Archive | September 23, 2009

Dictionaries Are For Lesser Mortals

From George Stephanopoulos’s exchange with Obama. (CHT Tom Knapp.)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Probably the most definitive promise you made in the campaign is that no one in the middle class would get a tax increase on your watch. … Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax? …

OBAMA: No. That’s not true, George. … For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. … [R]ight now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy …

OBAMA: No, but – but, George, you – you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase. …

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: “Tax — a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition ….

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.

OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.

Because, y’know, when the President uses a word, it means whatever he wants it to mean. And if someone points out that his usage violates the accepted dictionary definition, they’re the one doing the “stretching.”

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