SCOTUS Finds Mandate Constitutional As A Tax

It looks like the Mandate was shot down as the Commerce Clause applies, but was upheld as a tax. It seems that the court may have punted, 5-4 with John Roberts joining the liberals, the decision down the road to 2014 when the Mandate goes into effect

(CNN) Question: Can the court decide the constitutionality of health care now, or does it have to wait a few years?

To answer, the court had to decide whether a penalty the law imposes on people who do not have health insurance amounts to a tax.

A previously obscure law mandated that the legality of a tax cannot be challenged until it is imposed, and the health care law doesn’t call for penalties until 2014.

There are other parts of Obamacare that have been shot down and others upheld. That said, the ruling on the Mandate is not necessarily a win for Obama and the Democrats. Calling the Mandate a tax will not sit well with the American people, who already hate the legislation. People do not like to be taxed. Liberals say they love taxes, but only as long as that guy over there is getting taxed. They don’t like taxes for themselves. And, overall, people surely do not want to be taxed for economic inactivity, and certainly not for simply being born in America.

Look at the silver lining: (NMP) Obama and the Democrats will have a tough time campaigning on taxing people for being born American. Not a winning campaign talking point. Especially since Obama argued that it wasn’t a tax.

And this decision will, in fact, fire up Republicans and conservatives to win the Presidency and Senate in November.

Interestingly, according to SCOTUSblog live feed and other reports, Justice Kennedy voted to kill the whole bill. Ace is reporting that when it comes to the medicaid expansion, the Federal government cannot penalize States for not accepting the expansion.

We’re going to have to wait throughout the day for the full details of the decision to be digested.

You stay classy, Democrats

Patrick Gaspard is the executive director of the DNC.

Ed Morrissey: It’s an interesting argument, but one that should have Americans worried.  Basically, this is a tax that you have to pay to private companies.  For all of the screaming the Right did over single-payer — and for good, outcome-based reasons — at least the taxes raised to fund it 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.

Doug Powers: This doesn’t mean we’re stuck with Obamacare forever — it means that November 6th just got much more important, and I didn’t think that was possible.

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4 Comments

Comment by mojo
2012-06-28 14:37:30

If it’s a tax, there are also problems: the bill that passed originated in the Senate.

All tax bills must originate in the House.

 
Comment by John
2012-06-28 16:52:52

Over at Slate, Tom Scocca offers a silver lining in his analysis. He basically suggests Obama won the battle but Roberts won the war. Roberts wrote a decision that makes well defined boundaries for the commerce clause. Obama and team had made claim the ACA constitutional under the commerce clause. Roberts denies that effort but allows (correctly) that congress can levy both fair and unjust taxes – it is not the courts duty to pass judgement on the lack of wisdom on display in Congress or the White House.
Taxes are one aspect of power vested in congress that is most likely to be railed against in the voting booth. Had ACA been deemed constitutional under the power of the commerce clause there would be literally no limit to federal power.
The door (to the voting booth) is open soon. Federal power grabs have not been made easier by the court today. A return to balance is in the hands of the people, not the court.

 
Comment by William Teach
2012-06-28 22:03:26

True, Mojo, but technically the bill started in the House, and Reid gutted the legislation and replaced it with Obamacare. BS move, but legal. Unfortunately.

Excellent points, John. And this will fire up people to defeat Obama and win the White House and Senate so that Obamacare can be repealed and replaced.

Also, it will be a tough road for Obama and the Dems to campaign on the largest tax increase on the middle class ever. Also, the GOP and Team Romney will be able to highlight the Dems celebration on enacting this huge tax.

 
Comment by Gumball_Brains Subscribed to comments via email
2012-06-28 23:05:45

“George, I don’t know what you’re reading, but it is not a tax.” Paraphrase: “It is a penalty George. No way is it a fair and across the board tax. It is a punitive and direct penalty for those who don’t policies from my insurance lobbiers.”

Scotus: It is a tax in order to be constitutional, but it is not a tax with regard to being able to be considered now before the tax comes in to “standing” stage in 2014.

It is amazing that a liberal saw clearer and was less activist than one of the prized “conservative” jurists.

While this did shut down any hope of use of Commerce Clause to mandate anything, it did leave open a door for the use of taxes as a form of penalty. SCOTUS was always delimited between what was a tax and a penalty. Not now.

 

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