Why is it that the man who is supposed to have been the brightest, best spoken, deepest thinker and yes, clean, has so much trouble with something as simple as a dictionary?
In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, President Obama refused to admit that his tax was a tax:
STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, but it’s still a tax increase.
OBAMA: No. That — 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 any more 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 — if I — if I say that right now your premiums are going to be going up by 5 percent or 8 percent or 10 percent next year, and you say, “Well, that’s not a tax increase,” but, on the other hand, if I say that I don’t want to have to pay for you not carrying coverage, even after I give you tax credits that make it affordable, then…
STEPHANOPOULOS: I — I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam- Webster’s dictionary: Tax, “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”
OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean, what…
What? “You can’t just make up that language?” How can the use of Webster’s definition of the very word being debated be “making up language?”
OK, well, if the actual definition doesn’t count, can we look at how the item functions to determine its definition?
In an AP article, Clint Stretch, head of the tax policy group for Deloitte, a major accounting firm said:
If you put something in the Internal Revenue Code, and you tell the IRS to collect it, I think that’s a tax. If you don’t pay, the person who’s going to come and get it is going to be from the IRS.
Well, that seems pretty obvious and conclusive.
Politicians have always played loose with definitions. I have no doubt that if we looked hard enough we would find a Southern Democrat of the time claim that the Civil War was fought over the issue of state’s rights rather than the final resolution of an issue that wasn’t resolved at the founding of the country and had finally ripened within the enlightened nation to a point where its implications could no longer be ignored!
Yes, politicians have always been challenged to stay within the bounds of Webster’s definitions. However, I don’t think it was until Bill Clinton told us that “sex” wasn’t “sex” that Democrats viewed dictionaries as yet another tool perpetuated by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. So now we know, that because of Webster’s work, “sex” isn’t “sex” and a “tax” isn’t a “tax.”