In Writing: Under ObamaCare, If You Don’t Buy Health Insurance, You Could Go To Jail

chicago-mls-jailThursday afternoon, at its Live Pulse Blog ("Breaking News on the Health Care Fight"), Politico’s Carrie Burdoff Brown reported the following:

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.

Friday, Brown reported that Ensign got a clarification on what the result of "normal collection proceedings" might be, and got it in writing (HT Hot Air):

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."

What follows is a picture of Barthold’s actual note. The original at Politico is here. The content is unchanged; I removed some empty space and adjusted the graphic’s properties to make the text more readable (and to have something in case Politico takes the original down):

NoHealthInsGoTojailCongAide0909

The postscript in Barthold’s note is not in the text of Politico’s report. Though it’s not particularly legible, it says that "Felony tax evasion provides for restitution and a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual and up to five years in jail."

Tax?

B-b-b-but Barack Obama told ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that that these fines aren’t taxes, and even ridiculed him for looking up the definition of the word in the dictionary (bolds are mine):

STEPHANOPOULOS: …during the campaign. Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?

…. OBAMA: No. That’s not true, George. The — for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it’s saying is, is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase.

People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy…

OBAMA: No, but — but, George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase. Any…

…. STEPHANOPOULOS: I

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