Monday, March 26, 2012

Obamacare - Taxing Issue

Hot Air is reporting, actually re-reporting from Philip Klein, that even the liberal justices were skeptical of the idea a tax not called a penalty could be called a tax. Congress explicitly withdrew language from Obamacare that called the penalties enforcing the individual mandate a tax.

On the first day of oral arguments in the case challenging President Obama’s national health care law, justices seemed skeptical that the individual mandate should be considered a tax — one of the main consitutional defenses being offered for the law.

To be clear, today’s 90 minutes of oral arguments did not concern the underlying merits of the case, but whether an 1876 law called the Anti-Injunction Act bars the Court from ruling on the suit at this time. Under the Anti-Injunction Act, people cannot challenge a tax in court until after they have paid it, something that would effectively punt the issue until at least 2015. However, there is some overlap between this question and the idea of whether the mandate is a tax, and justices on both sides of the ideological fence expressed skepticism that the mandate should be treated as a tax.

Even though the smart money seems to be on the Justices upholding the law, I remain optimistic that the vast overreach of stretching the commerce clause will come to its limit. Frankly, if the individual mandate is not overturned, I don't see how the federal government can have any constitutional limits to its reach.

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