Obamacare's many new taxes on Americans
If one accepts the legal gymnastics, contortions and flimsy reasoning spanning the 59 pages of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ 5-4 majority opinion on the constitutionality of Obamacare, it brings to light one important consequence: President Obama has been less than honest with the American people.
In the majority opinion, the court justified the individual mandate of the Affordable Health Care Act on the grounds that a failure to comply with the mandate results in a “tax.” And, given Congress’ constitutional power to tax, the individual mandate was upheld as constitutional.
While I side with the four dissenting justices in the Obamacare opinion and believe that the failure to comply with the individual mandate undoubtedly fits the definition of a “penalty,” the highest court in the land has had its say. And the Supreme Court’s decision puts the president in an uncomfortable position.
During his presidential campaign, President Obama made the broad promise that “no family making less than $250,000 per year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”
The president later remarked, in a September 2009 interview with George Stephanopoulos, that the failure to obtain health insurance under the mandate is “absolutely not a tax increase.” And the president’s advisers duly followed their marching orders by characterizing the failure to obtain health insurance under Obamacare as something other than a tax.
During questioning at a February House Budget Committee hearing, Jeffrey Zients, director of the Office of Management and Budget and the president’s top budget official, told me the monetary penalty a family would have to pay for failing to obtain health insurance under the president’s plan is not a tax.
It is clear that the president promised no tax increases on families making less than $250,000 per year.
But according to Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court, failure to comply with the individual mandate results in a tax increase on just about everyone.
But here is the kicker: The taxes do not end with the individual mandate. In fact, according to a report by Americans for Tax Reform, the president’s health care law contains 20 new or higher taxes on American families and businesses. There is the tax on health savings accounts, the tax on indoor tanning and the tax on families using flexible spending accounts for special needs education for their children, to name just a few. Even though the president said he wasn’t taxing you, he signed into law 20 new provisions that looked, smelled and acted suspiciously like tax increases. And now, Roberts has found Obamacare’s 21st tax increase: the individual mandate.
So where do we go from here? I do not believe we should allow Obamacare to take effect now, or at any time. But especially, as our nation teeters dangerously between lackluster recovery and further recession, the drag of Obamacare’s expansive regulations and mounting financial penalties (or, according to the Supreme Court, taxes) will be the final nail in the coffin of our dynamic free-enterprise system.
As unemployed and underemployed Americans across the nation struggle to find work, we desperately need real economic growth driven by American businesses, not the expansion of the federal government. The American people simply do not want Obamacare.
The political process must now work the people’s will and Republicans stand ready to act. As Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently remarked, Obamacare must be ripped out by its roots. Let’s get started so we can plant the seeds for real health care reform.
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5th Dist.) is founder and chairman of the Congressional Constitution Caucus and vice chairman of the House Budget Committee. Keep the conversation going at njvoices.com.