Obama Campaign Spokeswoman Won’t Call Mandate a ‘Tax’


Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter refused Friday to label the health care mandate a “tax,” insisting it was a penalty, in an interview with CNN’s “Starting Point.”

SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: Stephanie, it’s a victory, how are you feeling this morning?

STEPHANIE CUTTER: Well, as the president said yesterday, this is really a victory for the American people, because there are tens of millions of Americans already benefitting of this law, through cost savings, rebate checks are going out to people across the country. Senior citizens are getting discounts on the prescription drugs. Parents are able to ensure kids with preexisting conditions can get care they need or put adult kids on the plans until they are 26. There are real benefits happening across this country already under this law.

O’BRIEN: Lots of buts that come with that, we know that Congress has already scheduled a repeal vote.

CUTTER: This is not first time they scheduled a repeal vote. Since it passed they’ve been scheduling repeal votes periodically and fairly often in Congress. They keep failing. And I think that now that the Supreme Court ruled, the American people are going to want us to move on. There’s a reason why Congress has such a low approval rating, there’s not a sense they are getting anything done for the country. I think now that this ruling is done, it’s time to move on and focus on things like the economy in Washington. There are jobs proposals sitting in the House of Representatives that could mean a million jobs right now and they should focus on that.

WILL CAIN: I think it’s very incontrovertible that this is a win for the president in the short term. Do you see it as not problematic that the president and Congress said this is not a tax. We can play clip after clip saying this is not a tax. He made a promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. And yesterday we learned it was a tax. Is that not problematic?

CUTTER: Well let’s break that down for a second. What John Roberts said, we have the power to impose this penalty on people through the taxation clause, it’s a penalty. Let’s talk about who this impacts. Most people have private insurance, I’m assuming everybody at this table has private insurance.

CAIN: You said it’s a penalty.

CUTTER: It’s a penalty

CAIN: Yesterday we learned it was a tax.

CUTTER: Let me finish. I’m assuming everybody at this table has private insurance. So this penalty does not apply to us. There are some people who are choosing not go get insurance because they can’t afford it. The health care law makes it affordable through the largest middle tax cut in history. After receiving this tax cut and putting the law in place, a very small amount of people, according to independent analysis, less than 1 percent of American people will still choose not to get health insurance. For those people, what we call free riders, what Mitt Romney has called free riders, we pay their health care costs, up to a thousand dollars on our premiums, so they need to take individual responsibility for they are health care and pay a penalty if they choose not to get it.

CAIN: I do appreciate that explanation, I understand also you like the law very well but I’m thoroughly confused now is your position it’s a tax or is it a penalty?

CUTTER: It’s a penalty, that if you choose not to get health care and you’re imposing a hidden tax on all of us because we pay for your health care, then you’ll pay a penalty.