NEW YORK (Reuters) - Maine Governor Paul LePage apologized on Monday for calling the U.S. Internal Revenue Service the “Gestapo” during criticism of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.
The Republican governor compared the tax agency to Nazi secret police during a weekend radio address on healthcare. “You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo — the IRS,” he said, according to local media reports.
Democrats criticized the governor and called the remarks offensive.
“It was not my intent to insult anyone, especially the Jewish Community, or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered,” LePage said in a statement on his website.
“Obamacare is forcing the American people to buy health insurance or else pay a tax,” he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obama’s healthcare law last month in what has been seen as an election-year triumph for the Democratic president.
In attacking the law, Republicans have seized on the court’s ruling that the fee that will be charged to those who refuse to buy health insurance was allowed under Congress’s taxing powers. Republicans have said that the ruling meant the fee was therefore a tax.
Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Mohammad Zargham