June 28, 2012
NYC Letter: Obamacare, It's A Tax! -- Tax Upheld, 5-4
Day 1,251 of CHOPE
D-minus 205 Days
Surprise WRONG-O Edition
MANDATE STRUCK DOWN - CNN
The Roberts court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA", "Obamacare") -- in its entirety -- in a narrow 5-4 decision. Justice Roberts made the majority. Justice Kennedy joined the dissent:*
In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.
But Justice Kennedy's view did not prevail.
Justice Roberts, writing in the majority opinion:
We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions. ... [T]he mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition -- not owning health insurance -- that triggers a tax -- the required payment to IRS. ... Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.
Link to the opinion here.
So it's a tax not a mandate.
DON’T CALL IT A MANDATE -- IT’S A TAX
By Lyle Denniston
BLOG June 28, 2012 (SCOTUSblog) - Salvaging the idea that Congress did have the power to try to expand health care to virtually all Americans, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutionality of the crucial – and most controversial — feature of the Affordable Care Act. By a vote of 5-4, however, the Court did not sustain it as a command for Americans to buy insurance, but as a tax if they don’t. That is the way Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., was willing to vote for it, and his view prevailed. The other Justices split 4-4, with four wanting to uphold it as a mandate, and four opposed to it in any form.
... The mandate to buy health insurance by 2014 was the method Congress chose [to guarantee health insurance companies a large pool of customers]. It is not immediately clear whether the Court’s approach will produce as large a pool of new customers. The ACA’s key provision now amounts to an invitation to buy insurance, rather than an order to do so, with a not-very-big tax penalty for going without.
The decision to keep at least some foundation under the expanded coverage will lead almost certainly to renewed efforts by Republicans in Congress to repeal all or most of the new law.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air comments on the conceptual horror of the ruling:
Basically, this is a tax that you have to pay to private companies [scil., in the form of buying health insurance]. For all of the screaming the Right did over single-payer — and for good, outcome-based reasons — at least the money paid by taxpayers would go directly to government. The Supreme Court has signed off on what is, in very practical terms, a tax levied by the insurance industry on Americans simply for existing. It’s an amazing, and fearsome, decision that really should have both Right and Left horrified.
Nevertheless, this is the law of the land. We can now look forward to taxes levied by the auto industry for not having bought a new car in the last seven years, the liquor industry for buying too few bottles of wine to maintain your health, and by the agricultural industry for not buying that damned broccoli after all. We might even have Obama attempt to impose a tax for not buying enough contraception; we can call that the Trojan tax.
Republicans begin picking themselves up off the floor.
June 28, 2012 (The Hill) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Supreme Court's ruling on the 2010 healthcare law reveals that the individual mandate is constitutionally acceptable when defined as a tax, though Democrats tried to argue that it wasn't a tax to help get it passed. Mr. McConnell from the Senate floor:The president of the United States himself promised up and down that this bill was not a tax. This was one of the Democrats' top selling points, because they knew it would never have passed if they said it was a tax.
Well, the Supreme Court has spoken. This law is a tax. The bill was sold to the American people on a deception.
In selling Obamacare, Congressional Democrats and President Obama assured the American people that it was not a tax. Today, the Supreme Court ruled it was, in fact, a tax. This tax was imposed on the American people amidst an extended recession and is one of the many reasons our economy remains stagnant under President Obama’s leadership.
Mr. Romney presents the only path to repeal.
There's no wishing Obamacare away.
* Quotes from live blog at SCOTUSblog.