UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. See main page for full contents

September 20, 2009

GREAT MOMENTS IN OBAMASPEAK

George Stephanopoulos: That may be, but [the health care mandate] still a tax increase.

Obama: No. That's not true, George. The -- for us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it's saying is, is that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I'm not covering all the costs.

Stephanopoulos: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy. . .

Obama: No, but -- but, George, you -- you can't just make up that language and decide that that's called a tax increase. Any. . .

Stephanopoulos: Here's the...

Obama: What -- what -- if I -- if I say that right now your premiums are going to be going up by 5 or 8 or 10 percent next year and you say well, that's not a tax increase; but, on the other hand, if I say that I don't want to have to pay for you not carrying coverage even after I give you tax credits that make it affordable, then...

Stephanopoulos: I -- I don't think I'm making it up. Merriam Webster's Dictionary: Tax -- "a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes."

Obama: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam's Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you're stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what. . .

Stephanopoulos: Well, no, but. . .

Obama: ...what you're saying is...

Stephanopoulos: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.

Obama: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I'm taking over every sector of the economy. You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we're going to have an individual mandate or not, but. . .

Stephanopoulos: But you reject that it's a tax increase?

Obama: I absolutely reject that notion.

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