Soledad O'Brien firmly questioned President Obama's campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt on Thursday, grilling him on whether or not the president agrees with the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the individual mandate clause within his signature Affordable Care Act as a tax.
Obama and his campaign have argued that the individual mandate is a penalty, not a tax. O'Brien played a clip from a 2009 interview in which Obama said the individual mandate is "absolutely not a tax increase." He likened the individual mandate on health insurance to car insurance. "Nobody considers that a tax increase," Obama said during the 2009 interview.
O'Brien asked LaBolt if Obama still considers the individual mandate a penalty, given the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it as a tax. "Well, we're the ones who have been consistent here. We believe that it's a penalty," LaBolt said. LaBolt immediately steered the conversation to Mitt Romney, and said that the Republican presidential nominee has not been as clear.
O'Brien quickly cut off LaBolt as he began to elaborate on Romney's stance towards the Affordable Care Act. "Yeah but I'm not talking about Mitt Romney. I'm not talking about Mitt Romney," O'Brien said. "Let me stop you there, because I'm talking about President Obama. Does he believe this is a tax or does he believe it's a penalty?"
LaBolt answered that Obama believes the individual mandate is a penalty. "So then he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision that says it's now a tax," O'Brien said firmly. "That's right. He said that it's a penalty," LaBolt said.