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$1 Trillion: The Tax Price Tag for Obamacare

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Now that Obamacare's mandate has been officially designated as indistinguishable from any other part of the tax code by the Supreme Court, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has apparently decided that now would be a good time to calculate how much this massive "tax increase" will end up costing the American people. The answer? $1 trillion.

From the CBO's letter to House Speaker John Boehner:

Specifically, we estimate that H.R. 6079 would reduce direct spending by $890 billion and reduce revenues by $1 trillion between 2013 and 2022, thus adding $109 billion to federal budget deficits over that period.

Let's parse this quickly. H.R. 6079 refers to the current bill in the House of Representatives that repeals Obamacare. Thus, CBO's estimate tells us not the cost impact of Obamacare itself, but rather of repealing it. Their numbers suggest that doing so would cut spending by $890 billion, while also "reducing revenues" (read: lowering taxes) by $1 trillion. By implication, therefore, Obamacare does not increase the deficit only because it raises the tax burden on Americans by a whopping $1 trillion.

The Washington Examiner's Joel Gehrke breaks down the CBO's figures on these sources of revenue further:

The individual mandate — which the CBO calls a “penalty tax,” in apparent deference to Chief Justice John Roberts — will produce $55 billion in “penalty payments by uninsured individuals,” the CBO told House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a Tuesday letter. Of course, the framers of the law didn’t design the mandate as a tax, and so it produces less revenue than any other provision in the bill.

The “additional hospital insurance tax” is the largest tax increase in Obamacare, projected to bring in $318 billion in new revenues. According to the 2010 report from the Journal of Accountancy, this tax hits “high-income tax payers” — individuals making over $125,000 a year or households making over $250,000 a year.[...]

Obamacare also demands “penalty payments by employers” to the tune of $106 billion. “Other revenue provisions” bring in $87 billion, per CBO.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has argued that the numbers are good news for the White House, given that they show that Obamacare actually decreases the deficit by $100 billion. This argument might be a stretch come election day.

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