Not since Bill Clinton asked what the definition of "is" is have I seen this kind of hair-splitting shennanigans.
Barack Obama is so desperate to "prove" that his health care plan won't raise taxes that he argues with Merriam-Webster's Dictionary.
(I liked his Fruedian slip with "campai--uh, effort")
Here's the definition:
Tax - n Tax, a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes
So, if the government forces you to buy something, or pay a tax on not buying it, how is that not a tax?
Beyond that, Mr. Obama's analogy with car insurance is specious at best and intellectually dishonest at worst. Car insurance covers the driver when that driver hits or is hit by another automobile. Someone is at fault, and the insurance covers the party at fault for financial liability. It is a potential cause of action for a civil court. The insurance eases the financial liability of that event, both for the driver at fault and for the driver who was hit.
This is different from health insurance, in which the party "at fault" is a disease. The only person financially liable is the individual who is sick. In this case, the insurance is easing the financial liability of an individual who is buying that insurance, not the financial liability of another person.
A person being required to buy car insurance so that they can drive is far different from a person being forced to buy health insurance. The analogy simply does not line up. A mandate to purchase health insurance coupled with a penalty for not buying insurance forces people to pay money they may not wish to pay. That such a mandate is for their own benefit is irrelevant. The mandate adds an government-mandated expense.
And that is a tax, no matter how Mr. Obama wants to redefine it.