The Supreme Court's decision yesterday rewriting the reason why Obamacare should remain a law is right on a constitutional basis but wrong on so many other levels.
From the Supreme Court Opinion:
The Government advances two theories for the proposition that Congress had constitutional authority to enact the individual mandate. First, the Government arguesthat Congress had the power to enact the mandate under the Commerce Clause. Under that theory, Congress mayorder individuals to buy health insurance because thefailure to do so affects interstate commerce, and could undercut the Affordable Care Act’s other reforms. Second, the Government argues that if the commerce power does not support the mandate, we should nonetheless uphold it as an exercise of Congress’s power to tax. According to the Government, even if Congress lacks the power to direct individuals to buy insurance, the only effect of the individual mandate is to raise taxes on those who do not do so, and thus the law may be upheld as a tax.
Chief Justice Roberts writing the opinion for the majority opined that the individual mandate was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, therefore it is "may be reasonably characterized as a tax".
The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product,on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce.
Given its expansive scope, it is no surprise that Congress has employed the commerce power in a wide variety of ways to address the pressing needs of the time. But Congress has never attempted to rely on that power tocompel individuals not engaged in commerce to purchase an unwanted product.
At the very least, we should "pause to consider the implications of the Government’s arguments" when confronted with such new conceptions of federal power.
The individual mandate, however, does not regulateexisting commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product,on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce. Congress addressed the insurance problem by ordering everyone to buy insurance. Under the Government’s theory, Congress could address the diet problem by ordering everyone to buy vegetables.
The Framers gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it, and for over 200 years both our decisions and Congress’s actions have reflected this understanding. There is no reason to depart from that understanding now.
Everyone will likely participate in the markets for food, clothing, transportation, shelter, or energy; that does not authorize Congress to direct them to purchase particular products in those or other markets today. The Commerce Clause is not a general license to regulate an individualfrom cradle to grave, simply because he will predictably engage in particular transactions. Any police power toregulate individuals as such, as opposed to their activities, remains vested in the States.
The individual mandate forces individuals into commerce precisely because they elected to refrain from commercial activity. Such a law cannot be sustained under a clause authorizing Congress to "regulate Commerce." Applying these principles, the individual mandate cannot be sustained under the Necessary and Proper Clause as an essential component of the insurance reforms.
That is not the end of the matter. Because the Commerce Clause does not support the individual mandate, it is necessary to turn to the Government’s second argument: that the mandate may be upheld as within Congress’senumerated power to "lay and collect Taxes."
Instead, the Government asks us to read the mandate not as ordering individuals to buy insurance, but rather as imposing a tax on those who do not buy that product.
But, for the reasons explained above, the Commerce Clause does not give Congress that power. Under our precedent, it is therefore necessary to ask whether the Government’s alternative reading of the statute—that itonly imposes a tax on those without insurance—is a reasonable one.
And if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, itmay be within Congress’s constitutional power to tax.
It is of course true that the Act describes the payment as a "penalty," not a "tax."
The same analysis here suggests that the shared responsibility payment may for constitutional purposes be considered a tax, not a penalty: First, for most Americans the amount due will be far less than the price of insurance, and, by statute, it can never be more.
The joint dissenters argue that we cannot uphold §5000A as a tax because Congress did not "frame" it as such.
The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.
The Obama team is too busy from the White House putting a spin on it that it is a penalty and not a tax. WOW!
"It's a penalty, because you have a choice. You don't have a choice to pay your taxes, right?" Carney said.
What a moron. Do people CHOOSE not to pay their taxes???
I guess that is why Obama mandated 16,000 more IRS agents in the bill. He too thought it wasn't a tax!