On Thursday I attended the press gaggle after the Congressional Black Caucus, joined by other Democrats, walked out of the Holder contempt vote. While they were there primarily to talk about Holder, I did manage to ask members a few questions about the Supreme Court decision then hot off the presses.
Their answers revealed they are quite optimistic about their new taxing powers.
“It’s a vindication of what we all knew,” said Representative Maxine Waters (Calif.). “Congress had the authority to set the health-care policy of the United States of America.”
Waters pointed out that since Congress has the power to levy taxes, and the Supreme Court ruled the mandate essentially a tax, then, hey, they’ll take it.
“If that is what the Supreme Court has labeled it, then so be it,” Waters said.
“I never looked at it as a tax,” shrugged Representative Charlie Rangel (N.Y.). “It was paying for a service that you eventually wanted to enjoy. I guess there’s reasons they just don’t call that a tax.”
But at least one Democrat said his party has reason to tread carefully. “I think that the word ‘tax’ always sends everybody into heebie-jeebies,” said Representative David Scott (Ga.). “Now, what we have to do is explain to folks that we’re not talking about an added tax as much as we’re talking about a taxation penalty for not purchasing and going through. I think that we have to use this very gingerly. I don’t think there will be any rush to over-abuse that.”
But Scott did suggest that the ACA, as it stands, is just the beginning.
“This law has always been more, in my mind, a foundation and a framework,” Scott said. “Just like when we started with Social Security: It’s not what it is today, it was a foundation and a framework. Medicare was a foundation and a framework.”