Thursday, July 5, 2012

Semantics

I meant to write about this days ago when the ruling came out, but I kind of got sidetracked with everything else going on in my life. Anyways, I guess Republicans are making a big deal out of the fact that, in its ruling on the individual mandate, the Supreme Court said that the enforcement mechanism was a tax. So now Republicans are all up in arms about how this is a tax instead of a penalty, as if this is some great revelation they've just now had.


Okay. Let me take this real slow-like. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, this is what the mandate basically does: 
“Those without coverage pay a tax penalty of the greater of $695 per year up to a maximum of three times that amount ($2,085) per family or 2.5% of household income…Exemptions will be granted for financial hardship, religious objections, American Indians, those without coverage for less than three months, undocumented immigrants, incarcerated individuals, those for whom the lowest cost plan option exceeds 8% of an individual’s income, and those with incomes below the tax filing threshold.”
Now if we change the word "penalty" to "tax," what changes in the terms above? Precisely nothing. The fact that it is a tax is completely irrelevant. If someone doesn't like the mandate already, the fact that it is a tax instead of a penalty won't change anything. Someone who likes the mandate isn't going to be outraged that they would be paying a tax instead of a penalty if they don't purchase insurance.


This seems like a pretty poor line of attack for the GOP to take right now, if you ask me. Penalty and tax carry pretty similar implications and meanings to people, so far as I can tell. What's more, the actual terms of the mandate have not changed one iota! You could call it Peter's Pence if you wanted to, and the terms would still be the same. 


Completely, totally, irrelevant.