According to press reports, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that the penalty was not a tax but a penalty.
“It’s a penalty, because you have a choice. You don’t have a choice to pay your taxes, right,” Carney is quoted as saying by Yahoo News.
In a 5-4 ruling issued just one day before, Chief Justice John Roberts stated that the mandate was not a penalty and was, in fact, a tax.
“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” Roberts wrote.
Roberts said that the mandate “makes going without insurance just another thing the government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning an income.”