Opponents of health care overhaul highlight taxes in law, supporters push benefits

Mandate is not the only tax found within the health care law

Published: Thursday, June 28 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Steve Ciccarelli of Annandale, Va., right, a proponent of President Barack Obama's health care law, argues with opponent on the issue, Susan Clark, of Washington, outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, while awaiting the court's ruling on the law.

Associated Press

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With the Supreme Court upholding the individual mandate at the center of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul by calling it a tax, attention has turned to the law's price tag as opponents seek to highlight the costs of the Affordable Care Act.

"This is the largest tax increase on the poor and middle class in the history of this country," Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., said Thursday from in front of the Supreme Court. He called for voters to repeal the tax at the ballot box in November.

The ruling puts the power back in the hands of the people, Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., echoed during a news conference Thursday, and will allow Americans to decide between repealing and replacing the law through a Republican Congress and a Republican president, or keeping the law.

Either way, he said, the law was sold to Americans as a lie, with the Obama administration arguing to the people that it wasn't a tax before the bill passed, and arguing before the Supreme Court that it was a tax afterward.

"If Obamacare had been presented in the first place as a tax, I don't think it would have ever passed," DeMint said. "If Americans can see a tax, they're more likely to resist it."

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion in the case, stating that the Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance could be characterized as a tax. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer voted to uphold the mandate under both the commerce clause and as a tax, while Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas rejected the mandate entirely.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that Obama argued the health care law was not going to require a tax increase, "Yet we find out today it is constitutional because it is a tax increase on everybody, including the middle class. The irony is kind of rich."

A Daily Caller article said that 75 percent of the mandate tax will fall on Americans earning less than $120,000 a year, with 21 percent falling on people who earn just above the poverty level, 25 percent on people who earn between two and three times the poverty level, 18 percent on people who earn between three and four times the poverty level, 11 percent on people who earn between four and five times the poverty level and 25 percent on people who earn more than five times the poverty level.

However, the mandate is not the only tax contained within the law.

Americans for Tax Reform listed some $500 billion-plus in tax hikes over the next ten years contained within the law, including the mandate. The hikes range from taxes that took effect in 2010, like the excise tax on charitable hospitals and the tax on indoor tanning services, to taxes that take effect in 2018, like the excise tax on comprehensive health insurance plans. The 2012-2013 list includes:

Employer reporting of insurance on W-2 (January 2012)

Surtax on investment income ($123 billion/Jan. 2013)

Hike in Medicare payroll tax ($86.8 billion/Jan. 2013)

Tax on medical device manufacturers ($20 billion/Jan. 2013)

Raise "haircut" for medical itemized deduction from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of AGI ($15.2 billion/Jan. 2013)

Flexible spending account cap ($13 billion/Jan. 2013)

Elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement prescription drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D ($4.5 billion/Jan. 2013)

$500,000 annual executive compensation limit for health insurance executives ($0.6 billion/Jan. 2013)

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