21 July 2010

ObamaCare: Taxing The Limits Of The Constitution.

Despite a cacophony of denials at the time, plus Obama's repeated 'no new taxes' promises, it seems Team Hopenchenge is now arguing that the ObamaCare individual mandate - that we have to buy government-approved health insurance or pay a fine - is really a tax, and therefore constitutional under Article I, Section 8 "To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises". Okay...

While Section 8 gave Congress a power to tax, Section 9 is also quite clear about what Congress does not have the power to tax: "No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken." The Sixteenth Amendment, amended this, and gave Congress the power to lay direct taxes on income.

Since paying a fine for not purchasing health insurance is not a tax on one's income (but punishing one for not using the same in a way the government directs) it hardly falls under the powers granted Congress under Sixteenth Amendment. And they can't claim it's an excise tax, since that is a tax on an event - the purchase of a car or beer, for example. If one doesn't buy a Chevy or a Heineken, one doesn't pay the tax. The health care mandate is, in essence, an anti-excise tax - it makes you pay for not making a purchase. And since it is not a direct tax apportioned equally by population (some will pay, some will not, and the amount will vary from state to state and by income), then what kind of "tax" is the mandate to purchase health insurance?

I've felt all along that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. I think once this gets into the courts in earnest it will be tossed out. And when that happens, this new "right" to health care will bankrupt us even faster than Obama is bankrupting us now.

UPDATE: Should have known - David Kopel at Volokh Conspiracy points to an article arguing that the individual mandate is really an unapportioned capitation tax.

No comments: