Senator John Ensign (R-Nev.) questioned the Committee's Chief of Staff, Thomas Barthold, about the penalty, arguing that many Americans don't believe a mandate on the purchase of health insurance coverage is constitutional:
We could be subjecting those very people who conscientiously, because they believe in the U.S. Constitution, we could be subjecting them to fines or the interpretation of a judge, all the way up to imprisonment... That seems to me to be a problem.Despite Ensign's objections, the Committee later rejected an amendment submitted by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) that would've eliminated the individual mandate. Maine's Sen. Olympia Snowe was the only Republican to cross party lines, joining the Democrats in voting to keep the mandate.
Following the markup, Sen. Ensign received a handwritten note from Barthold (after the jump) that confirmed his concerns: people who fail to pay the $1,900 fee for not purchasing coverage under Obamacare would be charged with a misdemeanor, charged a penalty of up to $25,000 or face up to a year in jail.
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Let me get this straight... you don't buy your own health insurance and your punishment is to be sent to jail on the taxpayers' dime where we will not only provide you with health care, but also put a roof over your head, feed you three square meals/day and, in many cases, free cable TV? What is wrong with this picture?
Also, let's say I'm feeling rebellious and insist that I don't need health insurance and pay my $1,900 fee. I'd still be uninsured at the end of the day; the only difference is that the government has pocketed more of my money. Doesn't this defeat the purported purpose of the Obamacare proposal--to make sure everyone is covered?
And if I fail to pay the fee I'm charged like a criminal--how is this not a tax? Specifically, how is this not one of those taxes imposed on the middle class Obama promised wouldn't happen under his watch? "Not one dime" I believe were his exact words...