Heritage Foundation Morning Bell
The New York Times confirmed Friday that in preparation for defending constitutionality of the Obamacare individual mandate in court, an Obama Justice Department legal brief argues that the penalty used to enforce the mandate is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes. Mr. Obama’s own Justice Department further repudiates the President’s earlier statement by noting that the penalty is imposed and collected under the Internal Revenue Code, people must report it on their tax returns, and that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will cost Americans $4 billion a year. Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin told a meeting of progressive activists last month that President Obama “has not been honest with the American people about the nature of this bill. This bill is a tax.”
The fact that the Obama administration and their allies are now admitting the individual mandate is a tax betrays their very real fear that the Supreme Court could find Obamacare’s individual mandate unconstitutional. In the bill itself, Congress identified the Commerce Clause as the source of their authority to force all Americans to buy health insurance. But as our legal team has made imminently clear, the mandate does not purport to regulate or prohibit commerce of any kind. To the contrary, it purports to “regulate”—and penalize—inactivity. If the Supreme Court allows the Obamacare individual mandate to stand, then Congress could do anything it wanted. They could: require us to buy a new Chevy Impala each year to support the government-supported auto industry; require us to buy war bonds to pay for the Iraq and Afghan wars; or force us to eat our vegetables.