Obamacare: I was right about this one—“mandate” is a tax.

As I said back in March.

It’s good to hear that the U.S. Supreme Court is not so knee-jerk to the weird, Southern-based, contemporary Republican Party that it rules on every case as if the script were already written by Fox News.

[Update: To me, it’s the kind of crybaby, “let’s go live back in a fantasy 19th century” kind of country we’ve become. The dreaded “mandate” was actually a $95 surtax for people who did not have health insurance coverage. Not even on those below 133% of the poverty line—since they would be expected to have government-issued health care under the MedicAID program. Not Medicare–which is another kind of government-issued health insurance for people 65 and over.

How could a $95 tax be unconstitutional? Taxes are right in the Constitution. That’s why America’s second constitution—the 1787 one that we use today—created a strong central government with the power to tax.

Similarly to Japan’s health care regime, the surtax is a payment with weak enforcement against those who don’t pay without good reason. It is the user fee for the emergency room, where most of these “independent living” and pull-yourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps type of people end up, when it turns out they need health care.

Amazingly, Justice John Roberts ended up protecting us from the people who just like to mouth off about anything having to do with government and regulation.]

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6 comments

  1. Anti-tax · June 29, 2012

    The tax is unconstitutional because it is a direct non-apportioned tax for NOT doing something, i.e. not purchasing something from a private company. Article 1, Section 8 of the US constitution.

    • hoofin · June 29, 2012

      Wrongo. Read here.

      Of course this raises again the challenges brought to the Commerce Clause justification for the mandate — do they apply to the mandate as a tax? First, although Congress cannot compel activity, it can tax inactivity, and often has. Taxes can be so severe as to become punitive and thus be prohibited, but this is not true of the mandate tax, which is relatively weak. Finally, it is one thing to force someone to do an activity, under threat of criminal sanctions for example, it is quite another to impose a tax. In conclusion—Congress cannot force people to buy health insurance; Congress can tax people who fail to do so.

      • Anti-tax · June 29, 2012

        This argument doesn’t really pass the smell test, but let’s disregard the “taxing of inaction” for a moment.

        The article you cite doesn’t accurately address the direct tax or impost, but the fact that the tax here is not uniform throughout the United States puts it at odds with the constitution. If everyone had to pay regardless of situation, then it would be uniform and constitutional. The constitution had to be amended to get the income tax, because the income tax is a direct tax and it is not apportioned uniformly. I pasted the original constitutional text below.

        The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

        Now back to taxing inaction. My point wasn’t taxing inaction is unconstitutional, although it should be. The interstate commerce clause has been abused beyond belief. Was the original intention of the constitution to make the federal government all powerful? Taxing inaction basically makes the federal government all powerful by default. What say you?

        • hoofin · June 29, 2012

          It is not a tax that has to be apportioned by state, and it is not a tax on inaction. It is a “shared responsibility payment” because the person has not otherwise contributed to the medical system through buying insurance. The government (i.e. rest of us) is saying that you either contribute through a policy, or through this $95 surtax.

          Basically, since 1986, the emergency room has to take you. Now, there is a $95 contribution towards that.

          • joe · July 3, 2012

            Obama care is a tax just read Roberts decision Dahhh as he said it’s a tax and nothing more. It was struck down under commerce clause which the supreme court hacked up to mean something else than what it was suppose to

            • hoofin · July 3, 2012

              It was clearly taxing power. Social security has been funded the exact same way (not Commerce Clause; rather, Taxing Power) since 1935.

              By the way, this ruling makes Social Security privatization almost impossible, since it would be the government “forcing” people to go and buy private annuities from a business. Republicans really crapped up that plan with their goofy argument about broccoli.

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