Carrie Budoff Brown has been tracking this story at Politico.com.
September 24, 2009
Flout the mandate penalty? Face the IRS
Americans who fail to pay the penalty for not buying insurance would face legal action from the Internal Revenue Service, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
The remarks Thursday from the committee's chief of staff, Thomas Barthold, seems to further weaken President Barack Obama's contention last week that the individual mandate penalty, which could go as high as $1,900, is not a tax increase.
Under questioning from Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Barthold said the IRS would "take you to court and undertake normal collection proceedings."
Ensign pursued the line of questioning because he said a lot of Americans don't believe the Constitution allows the government to mandate the purchase of insurance.
"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," Ensign said. "That seems to me to be a problem."
Ensign's argument, however, wasn't persuasive to the committee -- which rejected an amendment from Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) to eliminate the individual mandate.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote with Democrats to preserve the mandate.
Ensign pressed for an explanation of what would happen to someone who didn't knuckle under to the mandate. This is what he received in reply.
September 25, 2009
Ensign receives handwritten confirmation
This doesn't happen often enough.
Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) received a handwritten note Thursday from Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Tom Barthold confirming the penalty for failing to pay the up to $1,900 fee for not buying health insurance.
Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead. He signed it "Sincerely, Thomas A. Barthold."
The note was a follow-up to Ensign's questioning at the markup.
To which "jd" commented at Politico:
"They're gonna need a bigger jail."
Yeah, and a whole crap-ton of deputies.