Here's the text of a note from Tom Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to US Senator John Ensign (R-NV) [Click here for PDF]:
Dear Senator Ensign,
Sec 7203 of the Code provides that if there is a willful failure to file, pay. maintain appropriate records and the like that the taxpayer may be charged with a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to $25,000 and not more than one year in jail.
Thomas A. Barthold
The "Code" in question is the Internal Revenue Code, and Barthold's note was a followup to Ensign's public interrogation of him on the issue of whether or not the IRS would be responsible for enforcing the "individual mandate" in President Barack Obama's health care "reform" plan. Apparently the answer is "yes."
If the IRS enforces the thing, and if failure to comply is prosecuted under the tax code, it gets pretty hard for Obama to argue with a straight face -- as he did last Sunday to George Stephanopoulos -- that the mandate isn't a tax.
Last year, some companies were "too big to fail." This year, apparently, some companies are "big enough to get Washington to sic the IRS and the cops on people who don't want to buy their stuff."
How big does a company have to be to get that kind of sweetheart deal? Will the store ads that arrive in the mail each week eventually come with red letter warnings that a warrant may be issued for your arrest should you fail to take advantage of Wal-Mart's low low prices every day, or to transfer your medical prescriptions to Walgreens? Will we be assessed fines (with jail time for not paying) if we choose to nurse a few more miles out of our clunkers, or ride bikes, instead of ponying up for something new from Detroit every five years?
A liquidator with friends in DC could really clean up on this kind of thing -- buy a warehouse full of Slim Whitman albums, say, then get a two-years-in-stir penalty passed for willful non-possession of "Indian Love Call." It's a matter of personal responsibility! We must each carry our fair share of the yodeling fandom burden! Got yer public option here: