Obama Budget Director Undermines Legal Case For ObamaCare


Part of the Obama administration's legal defense of ObamaCare's individual mandate to purchase health insurance rests on the argument that the penalty for not paying is justifiable under the conressional power to tax. ObamaCare doesn't actually require anyone to purchase anything, the argument goes; the law just makes people pay a tax if they don't. 

Courts have so far not been kind to this argument (in part because taxes must be intended to raise revenue rather than control behavior), and now a senior member of President Obama's staff seems to deny it as well. Here's an exchange between GOP Rep. Scott Garrett and newly appointed White House budget chief Jeffrey Zients from a congressional budget hearing earlier:

If Zients seems confused here, it's understandable: One the one hand, he's stuck with the administration's repeated promise that those with annual incomes of less than $250,000 won't face tax hikes. On the other hand, the administration's legal team is set to argue in front of the Supreme Court that a provision in President Obama's most prominent legislative achievement is justifable as a tax. Of course, Zients isn't exactly alone in his confusion: President Obama has in the past denied that the mandate is a tax too. At this point, I imagine the administration's official position on the question is—look! A blimp!

(Thanks to Jim Antle for the pointer.)

Update: More on this from Philip Klein at The Examiner, who caught it first. 

NEXT: A Reverse Climategate for "Deniers"?

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  1. Zients is sure making some classic C-span footage for us all to marvel at for years to come.

    I thought he was pretty terrible in the Solyndra hearings but the video above and this one with questioning from Sen. Sessions -to answer whether the president’s budget would increase spending over current-law levels- are just painful to watch.


    Painful to watch.

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  2. The arguments before the court are probably going to be interesting, watching track of which side of the mouth is making which argument.

  3. in part because taxes must be intended to raise revenue rather than control behavior

    Hmm… “you get less of what you tax and more of what you subsidise”?

  4. Like what is argued in court has to have anything to do with what is happening in the real world.

  5. I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion.

    1. That’s not what you said when I was pimping you out 30 years ago in Tijuana.

      Guess the democrats found out what a ‘ho you really were.

  6. Arguments before the SCOTUS should be televised. I would give my right arm to see them. When the administration gives its bit on the affordable care act defense, I will give a gold star to anyone in the room who can keep from laughing or even keep a straight face.

    1. As long as you’re not in the Supreme Court but watching on TV, laugh away. Mencken mentioned the reason people don’t laugh in court – fear of prison.

    2. I have a two word response for why this should never happen:

      Chuckles Schumer

  7. I live in Garrett’s district and love my Rep. The Democrats carved out an ultra-conservative district in the Northeast corner of NJ where they don’t bother to compete. We obliged by electing Garrett, who has zero charisma, but is a member of the Liberty Caucus.

    1. I grew up in Garrett’s district. Lived there until about 2004. I’ve always thought he was pretty good for a Republican.

  8. My sister has a longchamp and she likes the Longchamp Bag very much. When people ask her why she likes her sac longchamp Bag so much, she just answers like that thee is no reason and because she likes my Longchamp Bag, so she likes it.

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