Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) assailed the Affordable Care Act in his weekly radio address today and declared the Internal Revenue Service, which will require Americans to purchase health insurance or pay an annual fee under the individual mandate, as the “new Gestapo.”
“This decision has made America less free,” Le Page said. “We the people have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo - the I.R.S..”
The Gestapo was Adolph Hitler’s official secret police that terrorized Nazi Germany, imprisoning and murdering thousands of people.
LePage took direct issue with the Supreme Court’s ruling which upheld the law not under the Commerce Clause, but under Congress’ taxing power.
“Perhaps what is most disturbing about this ruling, though, is that the federal mandate is considered a TAX,” he stressed. “Now that Congress can use the taxation power of the federal government to compel behavior or lack thereof, what’s next? More taxes if we don’t drive Toyota Priuses or if we eat too much junk food or maybe even pea soup?”
Both Congressional Republicans and Mitt Romney argue, like LePage, that the Supreme Court’s ruling makes clear the individual mandate is a tax. The Obama administration, however, maintains the mandate is a penalty collected through the tax code for noncompliance with the law. Indeed, that’s what the government’s lawyer argued before the Court.
LePage also joined many other high-profile conservative governors vowing to thwart the implementation of the law by indicating that Maine would not move forward with expanding Medicaid programs, an option made possible by the same Supreme Court ruling.
“We cannot afford our current programs, so to require Maine to expand coverage even more is fiscally irresponsible,” he explained.
The governor further said the state would not begin setting up insurance exchanges under the law, citing “too many uncertainties” with federal matching funds, money that has yet to be approved by Congress.
Read LePage’s full radio address here.
Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site's coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.