The Obamacare “no tax” con

By Tom Quiner


Obamacare stands.

In a narrow 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the key “mandate” provision. The mandate is the funding engine of this sprawling piece of legislation.

Chief Justice John Roberts was the surprising swing vote. Interestingly, Judge Roberts rejected the foundational premise of the Obama Administration, that the mandate was supported by the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. But Judge Roberts found support for the mandate, despite rejecting President Obama’s con that Obamacare wasn’t imposing a tax increase on non-participants. Said Justice Roberts:

“It is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. ”

As a candidate, Barack Obama opposed the mandate.

Once he became president, he quickly changed his mind and fought for this key provision.

In a famous interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, which I’ve posted above, he sneered at the suggestion that Obamacare imposed a new tax. Judge Roberts didn’t buy the con. Unfortunately, in his view:

“Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”

Some voters will understandably applaud the decision.

Some voters will understandably denounce it.

What is particularly disturbing is the way this legislation was crammed down our throat in a partisan fashion using smoke and mirrors to sell it.

Supporters claimed it would reduce government spending. After it was passed and we learned what was in it, we learned it is going to increase deficits a lot. Taxpayer-funded abortions were sneaked into the bill. Contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization were imposed on faith-based organizations out of the blue in direct conflict of their religious liberty. New “taxes” were crammed into the bill.

Voters can’t help but become cynical when they’ve been conned.

Mr. Obama conned us. He did it without shame. He will do it again if we give him the chance.


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  1. Tom Maly on June 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Agree with you again, Thomas. With proper coverage, this should go down with George H.W. Bush’s “Read my lips, no new taxes” comment. This is BIG!! The amount of intrusion into citizen’s lives is incalculable — The H.H.S. mandate is only the beginning!

    • quinersdiner on June 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

      Here’s the question: is this a long term political plus for the president? Or will it galvanize the right to work even harder to undo the damage of Obamacare?

      • illero on June 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm

        I believe the ruling gives Republicans everything they need to “galvanize the right” to help defeat Obama in the 2012 election. In the first place, most Americans agree that Obamacare is bad for the country, and/or that it will significantly increase costs for Americans. In the second place, we have the Supreme Court saying that this law is constitutional if the premiums are viewed as a tax — or, as we conservatives would say (along with many liberals), a tax “increase”. If the Republicans can’t make hay with this, perhaps they should not win the election, after all.

        • quinersdiner on June 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm

          Outstanding characterization: Obamacare is a tax increase on small business as well as the uninsured. Good point. But for Romney to win, he has to present a positive vision for America. He just can’t slash and burn.

  2. J on June 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    As a young man in good health who leads a low-risk lifestyle, and who therefore chooses to forgo health insurance to save money, I’m enraged by this decision. I’ll now be forced to flush money down the toilet to fund a healthcare system which, the pattern in Britain and Canada has made clear, will become worthless under Obamacare.

    Personal grievance against the individual mandate aside, I’m also appalled by the precedent it sets. If the government can force us to buy health insurance, what can’t it force us to buy? Yet another heavy blow against our freedoms, though it’s practically redundant at this point. Whatever pretense of freedom we could still cling to was dashed about the time the executive branch gained the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process.

    • quinersdiner on June 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      You make a compelling case. Thanks for writing. Come again!

  3. Joel Schmidt on June 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Much as I would have liked to see the decision go the other way, I believe there’s much silver lining to this dark cloud. Justice Roberts has essentially forced the country to deal with issue as a political one, not a legal one, by pulling back the curtain on the Commerce Clause lie the administration has used to sell ObamaCare. Two big wins here.

    First, meager public support for ObamaCare won’t be going up now that it can only be sold as a massive tax increase. Good luck campaigning on that Mr. Obama (and other Dems). Justice Roberts may have just handed Romney the keys to White House.

    Second, Roberts has effectively curtailed the Commerce Clause as an avenue for Congressional overreach, virtually ensuring this will never happen again.

    • quinersdiner on June 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Good analysis. And you may be right. Think about Roe V Wade. The Court did not allow America to deal with the issue politically at incalculable cost to this nation on practically every front. Let’s hope there’s a sliver lining here.

      • Joel Schmidt on June 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm

        I neglected to mention a third big win in my earlier comment. Two quotes suggest the Supremes may be willing to overturn the HHS contraception mandate as a violation of the First Amendment.

        The first, from the majority opinion, states: “Even if the taxing power enables Congress to impose a tax on not obtaining health insurance, any tax must still comply with other requirements in the Constitution.”

        The second (from Justice Ginsburg’s opinion!) is even more pointed: “A mandate to purchase a particular product would be unconstitutional if, for example, the edict impermissibly abridged the freedom of speech, interfered with the free exercise of religion, or infringed on a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause.”

    • Lisa Bourne on June 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      He may have curtailed the commerce clause from future abuse, but what about opening the door for overreach via the tax avenue used here?

      • Joel Schmidt on June 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm

        I do appreciate that concern, but I don’t really see a massive expansion of taxation power here. In 4(b) of the syllabus of the opinion, Roberts states the conditions under which the “penalty” can be considered a “tax.”

        “The payment is not so high that there is really no choice but to buy health insurance; the payment is not limited to willful violations, as penalties for unlawful acts often are…”

        I’m no Constitutional Law professor, but I interpret that to mean a tax may be coercive but cannot effectively limit the freedom to choose. Also, taxes are so politically unpopular, I don’t expect that to be much of an issue going forward.

    • Lisa Bourne on June 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      I hope you’re right Joel

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