Sunday, July 22, 2012

Obama's Definition of a Freeloader

James Taranto makes the following observation:
This isn't even Obama's only such revelatory comment of the past week. Politico.com reports that the president, in an interview with WTOL-TV of Toledo, Ohio, let the mask slip again when asked about the ObamaCare mandate tax. "It's less a tax or a penalty than it is a principle--which is you can't be a freeloader on other folks when it comes to your health care, if you can afford it," he said.
Of course this is a dodge. The administration claimed that the mandate was not a tax for political purposes but was a tax for legal purposes. Chief Justice John Roberts tied himself in knots to accept the argument Obama is now running away from. Between them, the solicitor general and the chief justice look as if they were too clever by 1.
What's objectionable about Obama's comment, however, is not "tax" or "penalty" or even "principle." It's the way he uses the word "freeloader."
Normally we think of a freeloader as somebody who sponges off others, which in the context of public policy means the government. A freeloader is an able-bodied welfare recipient, or someone who fakes a disability to collect Supplemental Security income, or who waits until his unemployment runs out before looking for a job. 
Now, think about how the ObamaCare mandate tax is structured. As Roberts noted in his opinion for the court in NFIB v. Sebelius, "It does not apply to individuals who do not pay federal income taxes because their household income is less than the filing threshold in the Internal Revenue Code. For taxpayers who do owe the payment, its amount is determined by such familiar factors as taxable income, number of dependents, and joint filing status."
The only people who pay the ObamaCare mandate tax are people who make a living. Actual freeloaders are exempt. What Obama calls a freeloader is someone who makes his own money and pays his taxes but does not spend his money in the government-approved way.

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