First, President Obama defended the idea of a government-imposed health care mandate by “absolutely rejecting” the notion that mandated health insurance premiums were a tax.
Then Obama Administration lawyers attempted to defend the legality of the ObamaCare health insurance mandate by arguing that the penalties for not purchasing health insurance are really just a form of tax revenue and therefore it is legal for the government to collect them.
Now, Obama Administration lawyers are arguing that mandated health insurance premiums are a “financing mechanism” not a “product” (like shoes or cars or broccoli) so the government is not overstepping its authority when it requires everyone to purchase health insurance, because the government legally has the power to collect revenue to fund its programs.
Which, as Megan McArdle notes, raises an interesting question: does this mean that, since we have effectively nationalized the health care industry, all health insurance premiums are now taxes? Can third parties with minimal oversight (i.e. private insurance companies) collect and disperse “tax revenue”? A compelling legal argument for this position would be interesting, to say the least.
I don’t think I could ever make up stuff this good, even if I spent my entire life working on it. Maybe that’s why I’m not a high-priced government lawyer.