By Kimberly Schwandt: Sunday, September 20, 2009
President Obama and ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos got in a testy sparring match Sunday over whether the president’s health care plan includes a tax increase, leading the host to look up the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of taxes.
In the interview airing Sunday, Stephanopoulos pressed the president on his plan to require people to purchase health insurance.
“Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?” the host asked.
Obama responded: ” No, but — but, George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase.”
Stephanopoulos then offered the dictionary definition.
“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,'” he said.
Visibly taken aback, Obama rejected the notion it was a tax increase and said pulling the dictionary out was a sign the host was “stretching” a little.
“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,” Obama said.