The Mandate Isn’t a Tax
As most of you know, I’m not an Obama supporter. In fact, I vehemently disagree with the vast majority of things he says and does. However, despite our differences of opinion, I’ve finally found some common ground between myself and the President. We both agree that the individual mandate in the “Affordable Care Act” is absolutely not a tax.
I have several strong arguments against Justice Roberts’ opinion. First, this penalty, unlike the taxes we pay every day, doesn’t apply to everyone. It only applies to people who can afford health insurance but choose to forgo its purchase. This type of application is rarely, if ever, seen in our tax code. The government doesn’t levy taxes only on those who can afford them. Instead, the government levies taxes on everyone, and those who can’t afford to pay them are required to legally prove their inability to pay. This is where the mandate gets is wrong. No tax is made specifically for one group of people. Taxes are produced to apply to everyone, be it everyone who buys an apple, everyone who buys a gallon of gas, or everyone who earns an income.
Second, as far as I’m aware, Congress has never taxed us for not doing something. Property taxes are collected when we buy a house, sales taxes are collected when we purchase a good, and income taxes are collected when we make money. These are all examples of doing something. We buy a house, buy a gallon of gas, or go out and earn a paycheck. This mandate is the first example of our government “taxing” us for refusing to do something. Frankly, I find this fact frightening. If such a controversial penalty is to be defined as a tax by the Supreme Court, I would certainly hope that they have some precedent to support such a claim. However, there is no precedent for such a move. Governments have always taxed their citizens for doing things, but never for not doing things.
Finally, we arrive at the crux of my argument. Taxes aren’t a choice. You don’t choose to pay income taxes, you don’t choose to pay property taxes, and you don’t choose to pay sales taxes. We pay them because we have to. This is where Justice Roberts’ tax argument falls apart. As I said, taxes a fact of life. We pay them because it’s the law, not because we choose to. The mandate, however, is a choice. We can choose to buy health insurance or we can choose to pay a fine. The ability to choose is completely contrary to the definition of a tax. Therefore, this penalty cannot possibly be defined as a tax. A tax is compulsory; the mandate’s penalty is not.
The individual mandate is not a tax. It’s not levied like a tax, it has no precedent like a tax, and it’s not compulsory like a tax. As I made quite apparent the other day, I was shocked and dismayed when the Court’s decision was made public. However, I remain adamant in my belief that this penalty is not a tax, and thus I refuse to recognize the individual mandate as a Constitutional piece of legislation.