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Sheila Jackson Lee on Health Care Fine: It’s Not a Penalty, it’s an Incentive

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By Doug Powers  •  February 17, 2011 02:20 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Sheila Jackson Lee makes people laugh on a daily basis, at least until they remember that she’s a member of Congress with control over the lives of others — at which point it’s like discovering that “Dummo the Clown” who’s been entertaining you in the airport terminal is also your pilot.

Hot on the heels of calling her constituents ill-informed and rooting out racially demeaning soft drink ads, Jackson Lee explained why the $750 fine contained in the health-care law for people failing to carry a government-approved health insurance policy is not in fact a penalty:

“I would make the argument, one, that instead it is an incentive to do right — that it is not penalizing because penalty is punishment,” Jackson-Lee told the Judiciary Committee.

“You’re not punished if you have health insurance, in fact. And so you are, in fact, incentivized to have health insurance, rather than take the negative which is to suggest that because we have a penalty you are being punished,” Rep. Jackson-Lee said.

Under Jackson Lee rules, nothing the government does can qualify as a “penalty.”

The definition of “penalty” in the dictionary I use disagrees with Rep. Jackson Lee:

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Granted, the dictionary I use might be biased, because it also contains this entry:

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**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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