The ObamaCare "Tax": When Is Something a Tax and Not a Tax? Answer: When the U.S. Supreme Court Is Determining If President Obama's Healthcare Legislation Is Constitutional or Not

By Wolverton, Joe Ii. | The New American, August 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

The ObamaCare "Tax": When Is Something a Tax and Not a Tax? Answer: When the U.S. Supreme Court Is Determining If President Obama's Healthcare Legislation Is Constitutional or Not


Wolverton, Joe Ii., The New American


"Simply put, Congress may tax and spend." With those historic words, the Supreme Court forced upon the United States a bleak dawn of a brave new world in which the federal government cannot be checked in its march toward totalitarianism.

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In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court upheld the joint venture of the president and Congress to force every American, regardless of ability or desire, to purchase a qualifying healthcare insurance plan by 2014 or face a tax penalty for failure to comply.

The court's June 28 ruling demonstrates a bizarre interpretation of the Constitution wherein the majority of the justices held that while the Constitution does not grant Congress the power to compel the purchase of a commodity, it does have the power to tax anyone who doesn't make such a purchase.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court, held while the "individual mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress's power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause," it is valid as an exercise of the taxing power granted the federal government by the Constitution.

In her partial dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagrees with the chief justice's interpretation of the constitutional limits of the Commerce Clause. Ginsburg writes:

  When contemplated in its extreme, almost any power looks dangerous.
  The commerce power, hypothetically, would enable Congress
  to prohibit the purchase and home production of all meat, fish, and
  dairy goods, effectively compelling Americans to eat only vegetables.
  Cf. Raich, 545 U.S., at 9; Wickard, 317 U. S., at 127 -129. Yet no
  one would offer the "hypothetical and unreal possibilit[y]," Pullman
  Co. v. Knott, 235 U. S 23, 26 (1914), of a vegetarian state as a
  credible reason to deny Congress the authority ever to ban the
  possession and sale of goods.

Ginsburg, therefore, believes that concerned citizens and constitutionalists should not worry about the future imposition of a "vegetarian state" because it's just "hypothetical." That isn't to say, however, that Congress couldn't make such a mandate under its broad Commerce Clause power, she insists.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Command and Control

Furthermore, don't be fooled by the chief justice's more narrow reading of the Commerce Clause. While he rightly reasons that Congress' power to regulate commerce is limited and not intended to place all behavior within the power of Congress to control, his analysis of the individual mandate as an expression of the taxing power makes it clear that (in his opinion) the taxation clause gives Congress that immense and unlimited power, even if the Commerce Clause does not.

Then, lest anyone misunderstand exactly what will now be required under ObamaCare, the court declared: "The most straightforward reading of the individual mandate is that it commands individuals to purchase insurance." Your federal overlords now command you to purchase a qualifying healthcare plan and will impose an additional tax should you refuse to obey.

In a fair reading of the decision, the Supreme Court says that the penalty for failure to purchase healthcare insurance is not a tax for the purpose of the application of the Anti-Injunction Act, but it is a tax for the purpose of interpreting the taxing power of the Constitution. The relevant portion of the majority opinion reads:

  The Affordable Care Act describes the payment as a "penalty: not a
  "tax." That label cannot control whether the payment is a tax for
  purposes of the Constitution, but it does determine the application
  of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Anti-Injunction Act therefore does
  not bar this suit.

Given the fact that the Affordable Care Act explicitly states that the individual mandate penalty is not a tax and that its proponents universally defended the provision on that same ground, what Chief Justice John Roberts did amounts to no more or less than scrapping ObamaCare and giving us "Robertscare. …

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