Conservative Media Falsely Claim Individual Mandate Is A "Massive New Tax" On All Americans

››› ››› MIKE BURNS

Right-wing media have responded to the Supreme Court's decision upholding the health care mandate -- the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance or pay a fee -- by claiming that President Obama has instituted the "biggest tax increase in the history of the world" and a "massive, regressive tax on all Americans." In fact, the fee will only be applied to a small percentage of people who choose not to purchase health insurance.

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Mandate

USA Today: Supreme Court Ruled "Individual Mandate -- The Requirement That Most Americans Buy Health Insurance Or Pay A Fine -- Is Constitutional As A Tax." From USA Today:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld President Obama's health care law in a complex opinion that gives the president a major election-year victory.

The historic 5-4 decision will affect the way Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the decision that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

A majority of the justices said that the individual mandate -- the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine -- is constitutional as a tax.

"Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," wrote Roberts. [USA Today, 6/28/12]

Right-Wing Media Respond By Claiming Obama Instituted "Massive" Tax "On All Americans"

Fox's Todd Starnes: Supreme Court Ruling "Will Force A Massive New Tax On The American People." During the June 28 edition of his "Fox News and Commentary" radio segment, Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes claimed that the Supreme Court ruling "jeopardizes religious liberty" and "will force a massive new tax on the American people." [, 6/28/12]

Rush Limbaugh: "What We Now Have Is The Biggest Tax Increase In The History Of The World." During the June 28 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said that, with the Supreme Court ruling, "what we now have is the biggest tax increase in the history of the world." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/28/12, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh: Individual Mandate Is A "Massive, Regressive Tax On All Americans." Limbaugh also said on his radio program that the individual mandate is a "massive, regressive tax on all Americans." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/28/12]

Jim Hoft: Obama "Now Owns Largest Tax Hike In US History." In a post on his Gateway Pundit blog headlined "FLASHBACK: Barack Obama Promises to Cut Taxes -- Now Owns Largest Tax Hike in US History," Jim Hoft wrote:

Today the Supreme Court ruled the Obamacare mandate was a tax.

Barack Obama now owns the largest tax in US history. Obamacare will cost over $1.76 trillion in ten years.

Take that, 99%ers! [Gateway Pundit, 6/28/12]

In Fact, The Fine Will Only Apply To Small Number Of People Who Don't Buy Insurance

Urban Institute: Individual Mandate Would Not Affect 94 Percent Of Americans. A March 2012 report by the nonpartisan Urban Institute found that 94 percent of Americans "would not face a requirement to newly purchase insurance or pay a fine." From Urban Institute's report:

The "individual mandate" -- the requirement that individuals either have health insurance coverage or pay a fine -- is both the best known and the least popular component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That people know about the mandate -- and may even worry about it -- is not surprising, given both the heated political controversy and the constitutional challenge surrounding this provision of the law. What may be surprising, however, is that if the ACA were in effect today, 94 percent of the total population (93 percent of the nonelderly population) or 250.3 million people out of 268.8 million nonelderly people -- would not face a requirement to newly purchase insurance or pay a fine. [Urban Institute, March 2012]

CBO: 4 Million People Will Face Fine For Not Having Insurance In 2016. From an April 2010 Congressional Budget Office report:

Of the remaining 7 million to 8 million uninsured, some individuals will be granted exemptions from the penalty because of hardship, and others will be exempted from the mandate on the basis of their religious beliefs. Among the uninsured who do not obtain an exemption, many will vol-untarily report on their tax returns that they are uninsured and pay the amount owed. However, other individuals will try to avoid making payments. Therefore, the estimates presented here account for likely compliance rates, as well as the ability of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to administer and collect the penalty. After accounting for all of those factors, CBO and JCT estimate that about 4 million people will pay a penalty because they will be uninsured in 2016 (a figure that includes uninsured dependents who have the penalty paid on their behalf). [CBO, 4/30/12]

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