Carney: It's a penalty, not a tax

June 30, 2012 at 11:52 AM

WASHINGTON, June 30 (UPI) -- The Obama administration believes those in the United States who choose not to buy health insurance will be paying a penalty, not a tax, a spokesman said.

Jay Carney, President Obama's spokesman, said the Congressional Budget Office estimates only 1 percent of the population would be affected by the payment. Carney spoke to reporters on board the presidential plane Friday en route to Colorado.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority of the Supreme Court, upheld the individual mandate to buy health insurance Thursday on the grounds that the payment for those who fail to do so is a tax.

"It's a penalty because you have a choice," Carney said. "You don't have a choice to pay your taxes, right? You have a choice to buy -- if you can afford health insurance. … So if you don't buy it, and you can afford it, it is an irresponsible thing to do to ask the rest of America's taxpayers to pay for your care when you go to the emergency room. So your choice is to purchase healthcare reform or a penalty will be administered."

Carney pointed out the healthcare law presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts contained the same mandate.

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