WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 6 million Americans — most of them in the middle class — will face a tax penalty for not carrying medical coverage once President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law is fully in place, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday.
The new estimate amounts to an inconvenient fact for the administration, a reminder of what critics see as broken promises.
The numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office are significantly higher than a previous projection by the same office in 2010, shortly after the law passed.
The earlier estimate found 4 million people would be affected in 2016, when the penalty is fully in effect. The difference — 2 million people— represents a 50 percent increase.
That’s still only a sliver of the population, given that more than 150 million people currently are covered by employer plans. Nonetheless, in his first campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000.
And the budget office analysis found that nearly 80 percent of those who’ll face the penalty would be making up to or less than five times the federal poverty level. Currently that would work out to $55,850 or less for an individual and $115,250 or less for a family of four.
Average penalty: about $1,200 in 2016.
Bbbbbbbut I thought President Obama didn’t want to “put a burden on the middle class with a tax hike””? /sarc And how do you like the sheer arrogance of an Obama spokeswoman on your “civic responsibility” to get health insurance or pay your penalty?
A spokeswoman for the Obama administration said 98 percent of Americans will not be affected by the tax penalty — and suggested that those who will be should face up to their civic responsibilities.
“This (analysis) doesn’t change the basic fact that the individual responsibility policy will only affect people who can afford health care but choose not to buy it,” said Erin Shields Britt of the Health and Human Services Department. “We’re no longer going to subsidize the care of those who can afford to buy insurance but make a choice not to buy it.”
I would love for Mitt Romney to be able to hammer the administration on this issue but I don’t know how he effectively could, considering his own push for RomneyCare in MA and how the administration will try to turn the issue back around on him. Still, it’s worth a shot because the Obama campaign has been hitting hard on the issue of “tax cuts for the rich” while “leaving the middle class to pick up the slack”, etc.
We shall see.