Rep. Scott Garrett (R., N.J.) had a nice gambit just now in a hearing with President Obama’s acting OMB director Jeffrey Zients.
First he asked Zients if the Obama budget imposes any new taxes on Americans making less than $200,000. When Zients answered that it did not, Garrett followed up by asking if an individual making less than $200,000 a year opted not to carry health insurance, in contravention of the Affordable Care Act, is the fine associated with that decision a tax?
After some hemming and hawing, Zients answered that the fine did not constitute an tax. Which is a problem, considering the Obama administration’s entire case before the Supreme Court is premised on those fines being construed as taxes, not penalties.