February 29, 2016
Conservatives who support Marco Rubio and/or health-insurance tax credits reacted angrily when I wrote that Rubio’s proposal to replace Obamacare with a universal tax credit is an individual mandate. It’s not the first time. In the Manchester Union-Leader last year, I explained why Rubio’s tax credits are merely Obamacare-lite. In a forcefully worded blog post, the Conservative Reform Network’s Ryan Ellis, with whom I usually get along famously, wrote, “Marco Rubio’s Healthcare Plan Absolutely Does Not Contain An Individual Mandate.”
My reasoning is simple. Say that Ellis and I are identical in all ways, except that I buy health insurance and he chooses to go uninsured. Under Obamacare’s individual mandate, Ellis has to pay, say, $2,000 more to the IRS than I do–the penalty Obamacare imposes on him for not to purchasing insurance. Under Rubio’s tax credit, the same thing happens. If we are each eligible for a $2,000 tax credit, then Ellis has to pay $2,000 more to the IRS than I do, for the same reason: because he didn’t purchase insurance.
Ellis’ substantive response is that if Rubio’s proposed health-insurance tax credit is a mandate, then “there is a government mandate to have kids (child tax credit), buy a house (mortgage interest deduction) and save for retirement (401(k) plans).” Ellis makes additional non-substantive points, including: tax credits cannot be an individual mandate, because he supports the former but opposes the latter; indeed, almost no one agrees with me; tax credits are Republican orthodoxy and “a standard feature of Obamacare replace plans across the board”; it is “irresponsible” to mislead the Republican base. Logically, none of those arguments have any bearing on the truth or falsity of my claim.
Read the full article at Forbes.com: Yes, Marco Rubio's Obamacare Replacement Plan -- Tax Credits -- Is An Individual Mandate