Freedom to tax

This Fourth of July brings special cause for liberals to celebrate. The highest court in the land has bolstered their freedom to tax.
When Senator Barack Obama ran for president, he was lauded for being “nuanced.” Little did we know just how nuanced our Chief Justice could be.

By calling Obamacare’s penalty for forgoing health insurance a tax, he allowed the procession of a very liberal act. At the same time, he virtually eliminated all limits on Congress’ ability to coerce.

The new liberal playbook is set: Require stuff of people and if they don’t comply, charge a penalty. America may turn into a very expensive country for conservatives.

In some ways, Chief Justice John Roberts’ ruling seemed to split hairs. Penalty vs. tax; commerce clause vs. taxing power. It felt a bit like an exercise in semantics.

I understand why he parsed things the way he did. He doesn’t want his court to be perceived as overly political.

His own chief justiceship, after all, is arguably the result of one of the most politicized decisions in the court’s history, Bush v. Gore (2000). As he said himself, he just wants to call balls and strikes.

One might say he showed Solomonic wisdom with his opinion, saving the baby and exposing the liars, President Obama included, who argued that the penalty wasn’t a tax. In this respect, his decision demonstrated remarkable brilliance.

The result may very well strengthen Governor Romney’s chances in the fall. It may even spark a Republican overtake of the Senate. But given the permanence of Supreme Court precedents, limited government proponents may win these battles but ultimately lose the war.

Justice Roberts may come to regret his decision, as his limited government instincts rise to the surface, as the congratulations of the left fade into “What have you done for me latelies?”

And as the effects of Obamacare take hold.

It is no small irony that the U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld much of Obamacare actually pitted a small business group against a very large government.

The suit was formally called “National Federation of Independent Businesses et al. v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al.”

What started as a benefit to attract employees (i.e., employer-paid health insurance) will likely be the end of some small companies and small business jobs as we know them.

Here’s why:

The coverage that Obamacare mandates employers provide will increase overhead. When overhead eats too much into profits, businesses make cuts. If they can’t simply cut the health insurance, guess what they will cut? The health insured.

When this happens, the next logical step will be for Congress to institute European-like labor laws that prohibit such cost-cutting. At that point, businesses, particularly small ones, will have less incentive to exist. Many will close their doors. European-like unemployment will result.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling last week, President Obama repeated his claim that health insurance will cover more while costing less.

But how can Humana be forced to provide care for more ill people and also charge its current customers less? I don’t want to underestimate the efficiency capabilities of American companies, but this seems like a non sequitur.

Or maybe I’m simply too dull to get the nuance.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at Write him at

1 Response to “Freedom to tax”

  1. 1 John Halloran July 3, 2012 at 06:57

    Kevin, I have heard a lot over the past few days… and I think that the long-term affects of the SC decision will actually be for the better, much as State Attorney General Greg Abbott described. Here’s why:

    By limiting the use of the “commerce clause” (the government lost that argument 5-4), the Federal government will blink before coercing the States to do anything. Remember the 55 mph speed limit? If the State complied, it received it’s Federal Highway funds… this would no longer be allowed.

    More importantly, the “power to tax” is going nowhere – at least for the discernible future. Remember that President Obama – in order to sell this program – went out on a limb, insisting that this was NOT a tax… in fact, he went so far, that the SC ruled, ok, since you claim it’s not a tax, then we CAN decide this case… there is a Federal Law that doesn’t allow a tax to go to court over its constitutionality until after the tax takes effect.

    And he had to say it wasn’t a tax because right now, whether it’s logical or not, this country is not in any shape to add any more taxes…

    Sort of a mixed bag… but a very interesting mixed bag. SC Chief Justice Roberts is saying (and he pretty much stated it): “Go ahead and create bad law… all we will do is judge whether or not the Constitution gives you the right to do this… the PEOPLE will decide whether or not you remain in office…:” I think it’s best for us… we will see a tidal wave in this next election…

    Finally, this is definitely a victory for States Rights. There are those who said (erroneously) that, had the individual mandate been struck down, then Massachusetts own healthcare law would have been at risk. But that is nonsense. It has long been upheld that WITHIN a State, the State can regulate commerce – and insurance has been the domain of the State for over a century now. Massachusetts can establish its own rules, just as Texas or New Mexico or Wyoming… In reviewing the Medicaid mandate, and striking that down 7-2, the court wasn’t allowing the Federal Government total control over a State’s budget or oversight responsibilities to her residents.

    I have worked in Healthcare for over a decade now. I am a Financial Analyst at a Hospital. This is not good law… while I agree that we need some better type of “universal” healthcare, this is not the law that will do it. And even if President Obama is re-elected, he will face a hostile Congress that just might have the votes to overturn Obamacare – even with his veto…

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