April 18, 2010

Who said you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance?

Surely, not anybody on Fox News!

VIDEO: Here's the right video.

Sorry, I had the wrong video before. I did not want to link to the video that way, at TNR, precisely because TNR displayed a Media Matters video without the embedding code. I hate when websites do that. They take video MM collected and use it in a way designed to force the link that I have now given them. I would have been happy to link to them, because that's where I found the video, if they had been properly generous to Media Matters and shown the embedding code. So I went to Media Matters to find the code myself... and found the wrong video, which made me write a post that didn't make a whole lot of sense. You have no idea how irritating that is to me.

ADDED: At that TNR link, Jonathan Chait not only has the video without embedding code, he also says "watch this fantastic video from HuffPo's Ben Craw (via Media Matters)" without any links to Ben Craw or Media Matters. It's easy enough to retaliate against TNR by dispensing with the usual "via" links when blogging about something you've found through them.


AllenS said...

NBC and Time Magazine will be issuing a correction shortly.

You just wait.

roesch-voltaire said...

I suppose that pressing talking points that make claims about the bill, which actually are not in the bill-- jail time vs. civil proceedings in these matters- can be considered fair journalist practice. But I quote Cavuto: "I've researched this, and a number of Fox personalities had made that comment." Cavuto went on to say, (It) "makes for good TV news on Fox but that isn't the intention." Is this an example of manufacturing the news?

Kirby Olson said...

Originally, jail time was in the works, so apparently Time and NBC go back to that, and use a statement taken out of context, in order to make their assertion. The credibility of the MSM will soon be on a par with that of Pravda. Fox benefits in the long run.

I like Fox.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry, I had the wrong video up before.

Alex said...

You see when 'baggers make ridiculous claims like this it discredits the entire movement. Look for a landslide Dem victory in November as swing voters punish the Republicans for their lying.

Quayle said...

What they'll do it automatically take it out of your withholding, so you won't have to go to jail for not paying taxes.

(If you pay your other taxes, that is.)

Meade said...

"You have no idea how irritating that is to me."

Oh but I think I do.

I'll just be out in the backyard... cutting brush.

AJ Lynch said...

Let's be intellectually honest. When a govt program mandates that you buy something, the govt must have some way of penalizing those who don't comply. So far, the Dems said this about the penalties:

First they said the govt had no recourse and would not levy assets, etc or add interest and enalties. Plus the IRS GUY said they were not hiring an add'l 16,500 agents to administer Obamacare.

Then , a week or so later, the IRS GUY said they would deduct the penalty from your tax refund if you were getting one.

I predict that they will soon admit it is unfair to take the money only from those who have refunds and so they will treat it like any other unpaid taxes and levy your assets and threaten criminal prosecution, etc.

Rose said...

This is what I have:
Failure to Comply, 5 Years in Prison...
“Criminal penalties
Prosecution is authorized under the Code for a variety of offenses. Depending on the level of the noncompliance, the following penalties could apply to an individual:

• Section 7203 – misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

• Section 7201 – felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.” [page 3]

◼ PELOSI: Buy a $15,000 Policy or Go to Jail; republicans.waysandmeans.house.gov
Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

In response to the JCT letter, Camp said: “This is the ultimate example of the Democrats’ command-and-control style of governing – buy what we tell you or go to jail. It is outrageous and it should be stopped immediately.”

stoptheaclu.com The Joint Committee on Taxation issued a letter (Download pdf file) in reply to Representative Dave Crump’s inquiry about the matter of the criminal penalties of refusing to buy healthcare insurance should Pelosi’s version of Obamacare pass.

In reply the JCT outlines the exact language in the bill that proves that Pelosi and her Democrat leaders want to turn YOU into a federal criminal if you don’t want to buy her health insurance.

But hey, no one read it, no one knows what is in it, it is still being written after being voted on and there is all kinds of stuff tucked in that will have unimagined consequences - what do we care, FOX is just biased, that's all. (In favor reading the bill, knowing what you are voting on, and in favor of retaining some form of freedom.)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I think that it's important to look at the context and timeline. O'Rielly is responding to Coburn's answer to a question about the bill that was passed. Were any of those clips from people on fox talking about jail time made after the house passed the Senate version? You can't tell that from the clips.

Before the house passed the senate version of the bill, it should be assumed that the Fox people were talking about what could happen based on the bills that were actively being considered. And according to Thomas Barthold from the Joint Committee on Taxation, the usual IRS enforcement options, including jail time, are available for people who don't get insurance and don't pay the fine.

So, before the house passed the Senate version of the bill, discussion of jail time did make for good TV, because such jail time was jail time was what you could actually face under the house bill if you didn't get government approved insurance and didn't pay the fine.

goodbodynut said...

You get free top government-quality health care in prison - although if you have money, they bill you for it along with room and board

garage mahal said...

Let's be intellectually honest. When a govt program mandates that you buy something, the govt must have some way of penalizing those who don't comply.

Non-compliance to pay is not subject to criminal or civil penalties. So it's time to start arguing the mandate is meaningless, the Dems are incompetent, Obama is an empty suit, we're in the best of hands, blah blah blah.

Ann Althouse said...

It's not a good enough answer to say that the bill really does have imprisonment as an enforcement mechanism. The assertion was that no one on Fox News had said that, but they had, including Beck right to O'Reilly's face.

Alex said...

Ann - you know that they hate you for your cruel neutrality. It's like Fox News is infallible in their eyes.

EDH said...

Notice, the HuffPo/MM video superimposes the broadcast date of April 13, 2010 over the O'Reilly video. That was after passage of the actual law on March 22, 2010. As a result, I interpreted O’Reilly as saying that no Fox commenter said the actual law had prison penalties.

One must ask why none of the other Fox videos have a date similarly superimposed. From the context of the discussion, it would appear that many if not all the other Fox clips were prospective comments about the bills before passage, at a time when few knew what was actually in them.

One has to inquire into timing and cause and effect here. Were harsher penalties in the bills that were circulating before passage? If so, why did they not make it into the law that finally passed?

If Fox commentary had a role before passage in preventing harsher penalties from entering the final version -- and proponents are now touting that aspect of the law -- what's the latter’s beef with Fox? Didn’t the discussion on Fox help push the bill in the right direction from their vantage?

Coburn on March 31, 2010, even after passage of the final law, merely said it was not the "intention" to put people in jail for not buying health insurance. No exactly a refutation.

Alex said...

The sad thing is that we have no truly "fair & balanced" news network. Fox is right-wing, CNN/MSNBC/NBC/ABC/CBS are all left-wing. The closest to "fair" coverage of politics is C-SPAN but that's limited.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

It's not a good enough answer to say that the bill really does have imprisonment as an enforcement mechanism. The assertion was that no one on Fox News had said that, but they had, including Beck right to O'Reilly's face.

That depends on what you mean by 'the bill'. There's a difference between saying that the bill that was passed includes jail time, and talking about a particular bill under consideration that did allow for jail time.

Maybe O'Rielly is just too nuanced for liberals to understand.

edutcher said...

They use clips discussing the Baucus plan and then take O'Really discussing the actual bill that was passed. Kirby is right, FN will come out on top after this.

This is the sort of thing Ubermoron or Dan Blather would pull.

Alex said...


Look for a landslide Dem victory in November as swing voters punish the Republicans for their lying.

You may be looking a long time.

Quayle said...

What they'll do it automatically take it out of your withholding, so you won't have to go to jail for not paying taxes.

No, you have to physically pay for it. If you don't, the IRS holds your refund (if you have one).

(Unless there's a new plan)

Paul Zrimsek said...

It's not a good enough answer to say that the bill really does have imprisonment as an enforcement mechanism.

Why not? It goes to the important question, which is whether Fox was reporting accurately on the bill. That O'Reilly is a jackass we all knew already.

Bill said...

Okay, so:

• Obamacare says (or infers) that there will be criminal penalties, including (presumably) jail time, for failing to purchase health insurance.

• They get a lot of flak for that, especially from the folks at Fox News.

• They specifically say "No, there won't be jail time" by removing/revising the language in the bill (At least we think they did. Who knows? For all we know there may be a passage about having to dress up in clown suits.)

• This guy makes a comment about Fox's rhetoric.

• Bill O'Reilly says "We never ever said any such thing, ever!"

• MM puts up a video showing all the various talking heads talking about jail time, thereby making O'Reilly look foolish.

Do I have that right or am I missing something? If I'm right then it seems like O'Reilly does indeed look unprofessional for making those sweeping statements about nobody ever saying anything about going to jail.

But that "gotcha" seems like thin gruel when O'Reilly could've just said "You're damn right we talked about it, because it was on the table at the time, and it was outrageous that it was, and we said so!"

I'm not sure either side comes out looking too good here.

Hagar said...

I saw part of a clip of a Congressional hearing where an IRS guy was being questioned about this, and I think his response was that all the IRS could do was to "reach out to the taxpayer" and send him/her a letter questioning his/her lack of health insurance documentation.
They can, I think when requested by another agency, withold the fine or whatever they choose to call it, from your tax refund, but then I would think that this will make for a massive revision of W-4's to make sure that refunds will not be due.

I would think that with 60% of the voters being against this plan, it would be easy to hopelessly bury the IRS in unproductive paperwork.

And I still have problems about the IRS concerning itself about the depth and sincerity of my religious convictions. I know we give religious organizations taxbreaks as "non-profit" charitable institutions, and we give conscientious objectors consideration for exemption from military service, but somehow I feel this is different.

Lincolntf said...

If the Left was nearly as concerned with what comes out of the mouth of the President of the United States as they are with what cable hosts say, we might actually have a real free press in this country.
Sounds to me like O'Reilly made a broad declaration that was subsequently shown to be untrue (pending date stamps and which "bill" was actually being discussed). He should be called on it, but all the fake outrage about his error is precious.

GMay said...

It sure is easy to go after FNC since they're the only major news outlet covering the right's perspective. The other outlets fuck it up far more often... *cough* Kagan *cough* CBS *cough* ...so it's just harder to pin 'em down.

AJ Lynch said...

After Obamacare had been passed by both shithouses, Congress critter Weiner said the IRS would not be collecting the money from people.

A week later,the IRS Commish said he was not going to hire added staff nor would they go after the Obamacare penalties.

The following week, the IRS Commish said they would dedict the Obamacare penalties from your tax refund!

I am not defending Fox or O'Reilly but who is being truly careless with the truth here?

Hagar said...

What about the miss-step in the bill whereby Congress cut themselves and committee staffs out of the Federal employee health insurance program and mandated that they could only be insured through the "exchange," or whatever, to be instituted in 2014?

The MSM silence on this is deafening, but it is my understanding that at present it is being ignored by the agencies involved on the premise that it was only "a minor mistake" that Congress will rectify when they return to Washington.

You think there might be fireworks before this "minor mistake" is "corrected?"

What about "major mistakes" - like adding enforcement provisions?

jimspice said...

One has to wonder how much of his own network Mr. O'Reilly watches. My guess is the intern that did the research and brief for him is out of a job.

Walla Walla said...

If you believe the IRS being in charge of overseeing healthcare means they will passively enforce the law like they do tax collections you maybe right. I want those swearing now nobody will go to jail to be the first to test the IRS.
Bill O'Reilly should remember to Never say Never.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

"One has to wonder how much of his own network Mr. O'Reilly watches. My guess is the intern that did the research and brief for him is out of a job."

Do you think she was forced to discuss loofahs and falafel with him first?

Jeremy said...

Glenn Beck said it on his own Fox News show -- and he said it on Bill O'Reilly's program too, directly to O'Reilly's face.

Nor was Beck alone among Fox anchors saying it.

O'Reilly to Coburn:

O'Reilly: OK, but can you tell me one person on Fox News, just one, who has told this audience that they'll go to jail if they don't buy health insurance...

...because it doesn't happen here. And we researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance. Nobody's ever said it.

Glenn Beck - Nov. 12, 2009:

Beck: "But if you don't play by their new rules on health care, oooh, here's a new little twist. Have you heard this? You're going to be looking at a fun little stint in jail.

... But if you don't play ball with them now, if you don't get into their government health care, there will be jail time. And that of course was fair."

The next day, Nov. 13th ;

On a weekly appearance on The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Couldn't they do [liposuction] at the same time [as your appendectomy]?

BECK: No, they wouldn't. No. I don't have universal health care.

O'REILLY: Well you will soon.

BECK: Or I'll go to jail.

BECK: You know, this is the first time in history in our country where, just to be a citizen, just to not go to jail, you have to buy something.


Kirby Olson said...

The trick is that they didn't put the dates on.

There was an original discussion of jail time which was later rescinded when the left realized it would look like they were setting up a socialist state with gulags.

They had to back down on that.

But after they backed down, did Fox continue to say that there were jail sentences when it was now known that there wouldn't be?

I think it's now just monetary penalties.

Are they really going to hire 16,000 new IRS agents to watchdog Americans on payment into their System?

will the 16,000 new agents be heavily recruited from ACORN branches that have gone defunct?

gk1 said...

I think its a more interesting question to think about what will happen when this portion of the bill is dropped or found unconstitutional. What will the democrats do to fill the insurance pool up with young people to support us old codgers? This rube goldberg healthcare system as so many flimsy weak points, its hard to anticipate where it will collapse. This seems the most likely point though.

EDH said...

Jeremy helpfully provides dates that show the quotes were indeed made before passage of the final bill, when the mandate penalty language was in flux.

Unless you are for penal enforement, if Beck's commentary in any way helped move the final legislation in what you believe to be the right direction, then what's the gripe?

If criticizing Beck and O'Reilly for their use of the future subjunctive and indcative moods, respectively, is all you have to show after passing national health care legislation, it sounds like a hollow victory.

Penny said...

"Do I have that right or am I missing something?"

Ben Craw, who put together this video, just left TPM where he worked for Josh Marshall, and was fondly noted as being good at video mash-ups.

Anyway, he mashes up some things he found on Media Matters and Swampland, while conveniently leaving off the dates these clips originated, which roughly, was around Nov.9 through Nov.12, 2009...before the passage of the Healthcare Act, and also around the time when we were being told that IRS statute covered penalties for non-compliance. The IRS penalties included the possibility of jail time.

HuffPo doesn't offer a link to Craw's bio, which was odd? I had to Google to find out where this lad originated. That might change though, since HuffPo reporter, Jason Linkins, just today, gave Craw props for his ... um.. "style". "Linkins", LOVE that name!

"Jake Tapper mentions the Luntz memo strategy, and then tosses to a montage of Mitch McConnell saying the word "bailout" over and over. ATTENTION, BEN CRAW: someone at ABC News is biting your style!"

So news isn’t about the facts, apparently it’s about “style” now. Do YOU like your news mashed?

Rialby said...

I'm sorry. You can sit there and tell me that nobody will go to jail for non-compliance. Unfortunately, if someone refuses to buy insurance over the course of several years and reduces his withholding to near zero, then there will be no refund for the federal government to digest for the purposes of funding the individual mandate. In that case, wouldn't the individual in question be in violation of federal tax code? How many years could such a person get away with not paying either the mandate or the fine before the federal government decided to press charges?

Ask anyone from Al Capone to Wesley Snipes how much the federal government likes being effed with on taxes.

Ignorance is Bliss said...


The legislation as passed specifically denies the IRS the use of fines or imprisonment as enforcement mechanisms. That may get changed in the future, but it would require a separate law to do so.

However, the IRS does have broad latitude in determining what sort of 'suspicious activity' justifies having a person audited. I don't see anything stopping them from deciding that people who don't pay the healthcare fine are likely to cheat on their taxes in other ways, and therefore deserve to be audited.

You don't think those 16,500 new IRS agents are needed to handle the paperwork for the people who are complying, do you?

Rialby said...

"The legislation as passed specifically denies the IRS the use of fines or imprisonment as enforcement mechanisms."

But that's at least 50% wrong. The bill does have a penalty (from NPR):

Under the legislation, most Americans would have to have insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. The penalty would start at $95, or up to 1 percent of income, whichever is greater, and rise to $695, or 2.5 percent of income, by 2016. This is an individual limit; families have a limit of $2,085.

So, there is a penalty which can be extracted, according to the administration officials, from a tax refund.

So, if a family goes without health insurance for 10 years, that's 21k. How many families will it take, avoiding payment, before they punish someone?

Synova said...

"...but then I would think that this will make for a massive revision of W-4's to make sure that refunds will not be due."

It's not rocket science.

We make sure that our refund is comfortably large by taking fewer exemptions on our W-4 than are allowed even though it would be more responsible, financially, to put that extra money in the bank and collect interest on it and then pay if we end up not withholding enough. There is a risk benefit decision being made... risk owing, knowing that we probably won't have the discipline to keep the funds on hand to pay the difference, or look for that comfortable refund knowing it's costing us in other ways.

If all we'd have to do to avoid having to pay into this health care program is put the extra effort into making sure we didn't get a tax refund, it wouldn't really be that hard to do.

cokaygne said...

I hate all that shouting on TV news, especially Fox, and don't watch.

It looks as if early proposals did indeed include jail for noncompliance. Apparently, due to the stink raised by the Fox shouters and others, enforcement is now to be lax or nonexistent.

If there is no enforcement of the mandate, does that mean there is no "cause of action" that someone could take to court in a challenge to the mandate? Even if there was enforcement, if millions of people ignored the mandate, wouldn't the IRS be in the same position as state police who must ignore traffic smoothly moving along at 70 MPH on a highway where the posted speed limit is 55 MPH?

There is a disaster waiting here. The key selling point of the bill is the mandate for insurance companies to ignore preexisting conditions and adopt community rating. Sick people will buy insurance. Premiums will skyrocket. Healthy people will decide to wait until they are sick to buy insurance.

Aha, said the wonks, including Mitt Romney, let's force the healthy people to buy insurance. By keeping healthy people in the pool, insurance companies will be able to afford covering the already sick. Where is the force?

Individualist said...

The biggest problem here is that people are not distinguishing between news and commentary. First of all, O'Reilly is a commentator, so him making an inaccurate statement, or any partisan statement, no matter how asinine, has no bearing on Fox as a vehicle for "balanced" news. O'Reilly, Beck, et al. are not, and do not claim to be news casters.

Second, as many have observed, the clips which make O'Reilly look so stupid, are taken out of context, but more importantly, they are all from other commentators, or from panelists being interviewed. O'Reilly could very well be correct in his assertion, because commentators and panelists do not represent the news.

Anyone could put together videos of MSNBC looking absurdly partisan if you make clip shows of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, but it would be irrelevant for the same reason.