5:43pm

Mon July 9, 2012
Health and Welfare

Does Obamacare Tax the Middle Class?

With Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell calling the federal health-care reform law a tax on the middle class, Courier-Journal Washington correspondent James R. Carroll collects the findings of independent fact-checking services to assess whether McConnell is accurate.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 4 million people would pay the tax or penalty for not being covered by insurance in 2016, which translates to about 1.2 percent of the population. But Glenn Kessler of The Fact Checker at The Washington Post, relying on CBO estimates, reported "that 16 million people will receive subsidies or tax credits to help pay for health coverage — about 5 percent of the population."

 "It's worth noting that the health law involves more taxes than just a penalty on the uninsured," Kessler notes, including an excise tax on plans with very high premiums; fees for manufacturers and insurers; higher Medicare payroll taxes for people who make more than $200,000 a year; a tax on manufacturers of medical devices; and a tax on indoor tanning services. All told, "it's a stretch to say that any of these taxes will affect the middle class." McConnell's assertion that President Obama is raising taxes with the individual mandate is also a double-edged sword: a similar penalty was passed with the health-care overhaul in Massachusetts while Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was governor. On that point, McConnell said "Romney will have to speak for himself." Last week, Romney said requiring all Americans to buy health insurance is equivalent to a tax, but that ran counter to how he viewed it earlier in the week. 

McConnell told the Louisville Rotary Club last week that repealing the law would be his top priority if Republicans win the presidency in November, reports Chris Kenning for The Courier-Journal. (Read more)