Obama Administration flips, individual mandate is a tax after all

Despite saying last year that the individual mandate is not a tax, the Obama Administration is arguing the opposite as it defends ObamaCare in federal court:

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

Under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.

In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.

Here is what President Barack Obama said last year:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is arguing that the individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, and is seeking to overturn decades of Court precedent.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson will be ruling on the federal government motion to dismiss the case backed by several states’ attorneys general in just a couple of weeks. Whatever he decides, it will not be the end of this case.

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