So, today, I sent emails to my guys in the Senate and the House. (Both good, noble men fully worthy of my support. So far.) And, because I'm lazy, they were identical except for the greeting. (I've mentioned that I'm lazy, right? Because it's true.) And it went like this.
Dear Sen. Bingaman, (or "Rep. Heinrich," depending)
The Republicans are now trying to spread the lie that the penalty that's imposed under the Affordable Care Act for not having health insurance is a tax. You should probably get out in front of this, and for one good reason.
If it's a tax, they can repeal it through the reconciliation process.
Fortunately, this is easy to rebut. Justice Roberts didn't say that the penalty is a tax: what he said was, it was legal for Congress to levy a penalty in exactly the same way that it is legal for them to apply a tax.
And if you go to his opinion (all 150 pages or so), Roberts comes right out and said that it isn't a tax.
Page 11:Before turning to the merits, we need to be sure we have the authority to do so. The Anti-Injunction Act provides that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessmentor collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the per-son against whom such tax was assessed. 26 U. S. C. §7421(a). This statute protects the Government’s abilityto collect a consistent stream of revenue, by barring litigation to enjoin or otherwise obstruct the collection of taxes.Translation: "We can't rule on it if it's a tax. We're ruling on it. Think about it." Page 12:According to amicus, by directing that the penalty be “assessed and collected in the same manner as taxes,” §5000A(g)(1) made the Anti-Injunction Act applicable to this penalty.Translation: "This guy says it's a tax; the government says it isn't. We agree with the government."
The Government disagrees. It argues that §5000A(g)(1) does not direct courts to apply the Anti-Injunction Act,because §5000A(g) is a directive only to the Secretary of the Treasury to use the same "methodology and procedures" to collect the penalty that he uses to collect taxes. Brief for United States 32–33 (quoting Seven-Sky, 661 F. 3d, at 11).
We think the Government has the better reading.
So, later on, (page 35) when he writes "The same analysis here suggests that the shared responsibility payment may for constitutional purposes be considered a tax, not a penalty," he isn't saying it's a tax, just explaining what part of the Constitution applies (which is why he phrased it "may for constitutional purposes be considered").
You need to keep them from taking over the argument by rewording reality. Go out on the floor and explain, on the record, in simple words, that life doesn't work like that.
If you want to get the attention of the media, apologize that reading is so difficult for our Republican friends. Or explain that things like this are why the Texas GOP is trying to ban critical thinking.
Or maybe explain that, if they're so upset that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional after all, they should consider getting on anti-depressants. After all, admitting that you suffer from depression isn't going to count as a preexisting condition any more.