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Is the Obama health-care law a huge tax increase?

Responding to the Supreme Court's historic ruling on the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are refocusing criticism on the tax fallout from health-care reform. Is it a tax hike? Yes. But on whom?

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With the Capitol in the background, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticizes the Supreme Court's health care ruling on Thursday.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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To Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the Affordable Care Act is a mega tax increase that will be paid by everyone from low income Americans and small businesses to gigantic corporations.

“Obamacare raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion,” said Mr. Romney, responding to the Supreme Court's historic health-care ruling outside the Capitol on Thursday.

For good measure, American Crossroads, the most influential of the conservative "super political-action committees," is launching a national cable TV ad campaign Saturday that claims that health-care reform is a tax hike on the middle class.

“Now it’s official," the ad claims. "Obama increased taxes on struggling families. The middle class takes another hit.”

Are Romney and his conservative allies correct?

The short answer is a qualified yes. The health-care law does amount to a tax increase, but this increase will mainly hit high-income Americans, such as Romney, who has historically paid much lower tax rates than many middle-income Americans.

If anything, Romney's numbers, which are based on prior government estimates that go out only to 2019, might be low. “If you go out to 2022, it will raise [taxes] $800 billion to $1 trillion,” says Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in Washington.

Included in the legislation are several major revenue raisers on individuals or companies to pay for the expansion of health-care coverage.

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