The Obama administration is trying to have it both ways in arguing to the US Supreme Court about the individual mandate -- claiming that it both isn't yet is a tax.
The administration does want the court to hear the case sooner, rather than later.
However, "a federal law known as the Anti-Injunction Act prevents courts from blocking taxes before they take effect". Hence, in order to get the SCOTUS to hear the case the Obama administration has to claim that the individual mandate is not a tax. Yet, in their supposed defense of the mandate's constitutionality, they argue that it is a tax.
ObamaCare supporter and law professor Tim Jost acknowledges that this strategy is "transparently contradictory". (Read the full text of "Tax law could hinder quick Supreme Court decision on healthcare mandate", The Hill, 10/23/2011.)
The Obama administration reminds me of the desperate defense attorney who tries to simultaneously claim, "My client wasn't even in town when the victim was shot -- and my client shot in self-defense!"