The Spectacle Blog

Paging George Stephanopoulos and his dictionary

By on 10.21.09 | 5:46PM

During a Sept. 20 interview on ABC's This Week, President Obama denied that the individual mandate excise tax in the Baucus healthcare draft was a tax, even though the draft language used the term "excise tax" as a descriptive.  In a memorable exchange, host George Stephanopoulos read the dictionary definition of "tax" to the President, who replied by saying, "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."

Now that we finally have the actual legislative language of the 1,502-page Senate Finance healthcare bill (S. 1796), we can see on page 194 that the bill retained use of the term "excise tax":

Subtitle D-Shared Responsibility
PART I-INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY
SEC. 1301. EXCISE TAX ON INDIVIDUALS WITHOUT ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS COVERAGE

Pages 195-196 also contain the following terms:

"IMPOSITION OF TAX"
"INCLUSION WITH INCOME TAX RETURN"
"LIABILITY FOR TAX"
"AMOUNT OF TAX"

Additionally, the excise tax is one of several taxes in the bill that break Obama's "firm pledge" not to raise "any form" of taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year.

Will the White House continue to claim the tax is not a tax?  Stay tuned.

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