Is a head tax a valid part of the government's power to tax?

Can Obama make any honest statements?

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

Under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.

In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.

Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution, the department said. For more than a century, it added, the Supreme Court has held that Congress can tax activities that it could not reach by using its power to regulate commerce.

While Congress was working on the health care legislation, Mr. Obama refused to accept the argument that a mandate to buy insurance, enforced by financial penalties, was equivalent to a tax.

“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” the president said last September, in a spirited exchange with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program “This Week.”

When Mr. Stephanopoulos said the penalty appeared to fit the dictionary definition of a tax, Mr. Obama replied, “I absolutely reject that notion.” . . .

The tax argument is clearly the strongest argument that the Obama administration has.

Jack M. Balkin, a professor at Yale Law School who supports the new law, said, “The tax argument is the strongest argument for upholding” the individual-coverage requirement. . . .

Yet, even assuming that this is now a tax, this is the first time that people have been taxed for not doing something.

Thanks to Tony Troglio for this link.

The transcript of the interview on ABC is here.

More on the question here.

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Blogger skeptic5 said...

Doesn't the Constitution prohibit direct taxes which are not proportional to population? I know the income tax amendment made an exception to that rule, but the failure-to-insure tax would not be on incomes (or would it?) and would not be uniform across the population.

7/18/2010 6:32 PM  
Blogger Martin G. Schalz said...

"In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes."

Interesting argument to say the least. So is this why we must buy auto insurance, or be fined for lack thereof? Am I paying taxes by giving money to insurance companies which are privately owned, and are not a Goverment entity? Oh, wait! I forgot the fact that the insurance lobby spends my money to pay for legislation that does the most good for private companies, and not the citizens.

Is not insurance a product? Does this not deny us the rights we as individuals personally posess?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."

Something about the above qoute sounds vaguely familiar... I just can't recall where I've heard those words before. Neither can the clowns that we have elected.

7/19/2010 10:59 AM  

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