"Ever since Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the law, writing that the noncompliance penalty was akin to a tax and that such taxes are constitutional, the GOP and its allies have been scaling new heights of hyperbole. The conservative Koch brothers bankrolled an ad calling it "one of the largest tax increases in American history." A Florida congressman upped the ante, calling it "the largest tax on the American people in history." Rush Limbaugh went further, calling it "the largest tax increase in the history of the world."
But the GOP's new tax claim is in another league. So let's bridge the chasm between the lie and the truth:
Obama's supposedly sweeping tax — his penalty for noncompliance — will be levied on a grand total of 1.2 percent of the American people.
So says the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in its projections for 2016. This means that 98.8 percent will not pay a cent, because virtually all Americans (a) will already have health coverage, (b) will have obtained coverage for the first time, thanks to federal subsidies and tax credits, or (c) will be exempt from the penalty, because of economic hardship or religious beliefs. The penalized 1.2 percent will be those Americans who can well afford coverage but simply refuse to buy it.
In an ideal world, the GOP would pay a political price for peddling its phony charge, but that's not how the game works. A huge share of the American public is still in the dark about the details of health reform, and is hence open to all manner of disinformation. The old Mark Twain line, about how a lie can circle the Earth before truth can lace its shoes, is apt in this circumstance.