George Stephanopoulos, in a rare display of chutzpah, challenged President Obama, suggesting that the fines to be imposed under the Baucus Plan on those who refuse to purchase health care insurance mandated by the government and enforced by the IRS—that these penalties would constitute a tax. The unspoken subtext was a tax on the middle class, something Obama has repeatedly and emphatically pledged not to institute. The president stubbornly refused to view such penalties as a tax.
ABC’s host even consulted Merriam’s Dictionary which declared “tax” to be “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.” Obama was unmoved, instead belittling George for resorting to such a desperate guerilla tactic.
Remarkably, the president defended the concept of penalizing “slackers” on the grounds that it wouldn’t be fair for responsible people, who were abiding by the system and purchasing their own insurance, to have to bear the burden of subsidizing the health care costs incurred by reckless citizens who elected not to buy insurance. His exact words were, “…we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you….”
But doesn’t this very logic fly in the face of Obama’s primary philosophy, the notion that others, under an imposed redistributive scheme, should be forced—in the name of fairness—to shoulder the burden of carrying the “less fortunate”? That’s what Barry’s all about (as Joe The Plumber discovered). Obama’s spread-the-wealth worldview has always embraced the notion of the “white man’s burden”. Yet the president here seems to be stopping just short of a full endorsement of that formula.
Of course, in Obama’s universe, the “less fortunate” are always those poor down-trodden souls who have been relentlessly oppressed and victimized by “the system” without the slightest chance for advancement. Ah, so that must be the convenient caveat that allows Obama The Great Thinker to escape the stigma that attaches to an “intellectual” lacking a rigidly-logical and consistent outlook.
However, in the real world, the terms “less fortunate” and “slackers” are all-too-often interchangeable. Under ObamaCare, responsible healthy people with modest predilections, opting to avoid risky behaviors, would be, ultimately, forced—burdened, if you will—to subsidize health plans covering the obese, schizophrenics, smokers, addicts, sexual adventurists and those confused folks looking forward to that gender reassignment surgery. What’s “fair” about that? This is a simple function of supply and demand and really has little to do with any “tax” being imposed under the Baucus mandate provision. But the question remains, is it fair for the circumspect to, by having to pay higher premiums, subsidize the insouciant and the heedless?
So which is it, Mr. President? Burdening hard-working Americans—one way or another—with the tab for the feckless or not? You can’t have it both ways. At least not if you want to appear intellectually honest.