A tax, except when it isn’t

Remember how President Obama swore up and down that a government mandate on individuals to buy health insurance they may or may not even want, under penalty of a hefty sum payable to the IRS, wasn’t a tax?  He was so stubborn on that talking point that even George Stephanopoulos, armed with Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, couldn’t budge him on what constituted a tax.

Amazing what a lawsuit brought by 20-plus states will do for one’s perspective.

These states, plus several private entities, are challenging the Democrats’ new health care law and its individual mandate in federal court.  The New York Times reports that, according to Administration officials, the government has decided that its best case in defense of the mandate is that, yes, it is authorized under Congress’s power “to lay and collect taxes.”

On this blog we’ve already touched on why there is no constitutional defense for the individual health insurance mandate.  Randy Barnett at the Wall Street Journal is kind enough to provide Supreme Court precedent to that effect (link via HotAir.com).  The Court ruled in Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co. (1922) that Congress cannot extend its taxing power to include taxes that are intended to punish behavior.

However, the dazzling arrogance of the Adminstration trotting out a legal defense it had explicitly rejected just months earlier on network TV is a sight to behold in itself, regardless of how the defense withstands the constitutional “laugh test”.

P.S.  Has anyone at the White House informed the President that he has now effectively put himself in the position of defending, by his own definition, a huge tax hike on every single American?

P.P.S.  After passing up two opportunities to defend the Constitution in towering Congressional amicus briefs in cases related to the Second Amendment, will John Hall choose this case, of all cases, as the one on which he finds his voice?


2 Responses to A tax, except when it isn’t

  1. […] Missouri’s Proposition C, on yesterday’s ballot along with primary candidates, passed by a margin of nearly three to one.  The proposition asked, in part, whether to “deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance or infringe upon the right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful healthcare services.”  In other words, the proposition’s passage (in theory) completely guts the new federal health care law’s individual mandate, which forces the purchase of private health insurance under penalty of a steep fine.  This vote comes immediately on the heels of a recent federal court’s decision not to block a lawsuit by the Commonwealth of Virginia challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate.  (We have commented on this constitutional question here and here.) […]

  2. […] their minds; President Obama has decided that the definition of the word “tax” can be changed according to political convenience; John Hall hides behind a colleague to answer questions on those rare occasions when he actually […]

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