White House to Dems: Don't back down on tax debate
June 29th, 2012
05:39 PM ET
8 years ago

White House to Dems: Don't back down on tax debate

(CNN) – The White House is encouraging Democratic allies in Congress to engage in a debate on taxes after the Supreme Court's ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law brought the issue back into the national spotlight.

David Plouffe, a senior adviser to Obama, wrote in a memo delivered to House and Senate Democratic caucuses Friday that Democrats were eager to debate their GOP rivals on taxes. Plouffe pointed out the Obama administration's achievements on lowering rates for middle class Americans.

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The memo came a day after the Supreme Court upheld Obama's sweeping health care law. Chief Justice John Roberts said the penalty on Americans who opt against buying health insurance is actually a tax, therefore making the individual mandate constitutional. Congress, Roberts reasoned, has the authority to assess taxes.

That ruling, while in the president's favor, was quickly seized upon by Republicans, who used it as evidence that Obama had raised taxes on Americans.

"That's not what the president said when he introduced the bill, but what the court said was that it's OK because it's a tax," U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, told CNN Thursday. "The debate that we're happy to have is that our friends on the other side of the aisle [not only] want to tax what you do, they want to tax even what you don't do."

And Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said, "Millions of Americans may now have an IRS problem as a result of the ruling."

In his memo, Plouffe encouraged Democratic lawmakers to jump headlong into the tax debate.

"We welcome this debate on middle class taxes, and we urge you to seize this opportunity to go on offense to illustrate how the President and Democrats in Congress are standing up for the middle class," Plouffe wrote.

He went on to list Democrats' achievements on taxes and explain the provision in question in Obama's health law, managing to take a jab at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

"For those that can afford health insurance but stay uninsured-forcing the rest of us to subsidize their care for free-a penalty is administered," Plouffe wrote. "This is estimated by the CBO to affect 1% of the population. It is modeled on the health reform Governor Romney signed into law, where less than 1% have been affected by the Massachusetts penalty."

While Thursday's ruling stipulated the central facet of Obama's law could stand if viewed as a tax, Obama himself denied the mandate was a tax during a 2009 interview with ABC, comparing it to state requirements that motorists carry auto insurance.

"Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves, 'that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I'm not covering all the costs,'" Obama said.

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Also see:

Obama campaign to opponents: Move past health care fight

Fund-raising flurry after Supreme Court ruling

Romney reacts to health care ruling, renews repeal pledge

Obama: Supreme Court decision is a 'victory'

Filed under: Health care • Taxes • White House
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. I repeat

    We are in the same ol' trouble if we reelect anybody. But we know that, don't we?

    June 30, 2012 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  2. TampaMel

    We have a deficit (not brought on by President Obama) and we have non-discretionary budget items (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc) that need to get paid. In order to pay for this taxes need to be raised. It is fantasy to believe the budget problems in the US can be solved by cutting taxes. If all the people out there want their taxes lowered then I have an idea. Do not ask for any government services and those of you already receiving money from the government, send it back and refuse any further payouts. Look at government spending like your household budget, if you can pay all you bill but all your relatives ask you for money, and you have no choice but to pay them, then how would you balance your personal budget? The answer is, earn more. Well, no government in the world earns a living, they all collect taxes and fees. The money you receive from the government was, in the end, a result of a tax collection or a fee for services. So send that money back and then complain about your taxes or keep the money and stop complaining.

    June 30, 2012 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  3. Paul B. Bellamy

    A tax is a levy by the government on property and/or income. So it seems to me that in what fashion and how much you pay determines whether the money you pay for not having health insurance becomes a PENALTY or a TAX. The law states you pay $A, where A=a flat fee or $B, where B=a percentage of your income, whichever is greater. If you pay A, it's a fee or a penalty, but if you have to end up paying B, it's a tax. And both are penalties because you didn't do what the law now says you have to do...right?

    June 30, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  4. Rla

    If you enjoy taking money from your family and giving it to people who don,t care about themselves or you than bow to the liberals!

    June 30, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  5. wallybob

    the "tax" will only affect about 1 million people, probably mostly young males who feel immortal.

    June 30, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  6. Ancient Texan

    That's funny; why did the Administration attorney plead that it was a tax in an effort to sway the Court? Now, it's not a tax?

    June 30, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. Desmond, Objectively in Canada

    Call it what you like, your health insurance premiums are no different to your auto insurance premiums. Admittedly, not all can afford auto premiums but can you afford the bizarre costs of health care that you get ripped off for without insurance?

    June 30, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Bill from GA

    When the current Income Tax law expires, our nation will return to the Clinton era tax rates

    Since that was the last time we were able to pay our bills, maybe we should let the law expire.

    Then, Congress should address some of the loopholes, deductions, and credits, and outright fraud in items such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

    June 30, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. maf

    There have been taxes since there has been civilization. Some were fair, some were not. This is a time where healthy taxes are necessary to get the economy back on track. Everyone hopes that the tax package going forward is fair!
    If you drive a vehicle, you get "taxed". . . taxed on gas, taxed on insurance. If you don't want to pay those extra $$, DON'T DRIVE!!! As I understand it, the ACA is a penalty (tax) if you do not have appropriate coverage in the first place!!

    There has to be a revenue balance to the amount of cost cutting that is taking place. You can't simply cut everything as that has a waterfall effect on jobs and services. For the GOP to so vehemently oppose everything they spin into a "tax" is preposterous!

    June 30, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. Sanity

    Can Romney sue Obama for patent infringement? Interesting that Dems always claim Bush, Romney,..., are incompetent while they also attribute Dems best ideas to them.

    June 30, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. frag

    And Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said, "Millions of Americans may now have an IRS problem as a result of the ruling." That's it Mario, use the old Republican scare tactic. What we need in this country is more fear and hate.

    June 30, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  12. sonny c.

    THE tax in question only applies to those who refuse to purchase health insurance to pay for their own illness. Or "slackers" as Romney called them when to Mass. folks explaining how "Romney Care" would work.

    June 30, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Hawk in Texas

    Hey republicans where are the jobs you promised and you have not created one job. all of you need to be voted out of office you have wasted 3 years on the health care issue. now you are at it again by saying it is a tax. some advice republicans get real, do the things you promised about jobs. let the health care alone. stop lying to the people.

    June 30, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. anoel2005

    the only thing Dems know how to do is RAISE TAXES.

    Obamacare is a huge tax.

    So,what else is new.

    We need to vote the Dems out.

    June 30, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. badboy

    Obama is all for the poor and middle class, except for the higher gas prices, higher grocery prices, and higher energy bills. Now higher taxes too on the people who DO make less than $250,000 per year. Thanks Obama. Fossil fuels will
    be around for a long time, stop trying to make solar and wind more acceptable by increasing the cost of coal and oil!

    June 30, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. Marcus Wel

    I will not vote for any politicians who are for mandatory health care. I vote for freedom?

    June 30, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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