Obamacare is a tax

The biggest tax on the middle class ever planned. Don’t have healthcare? You will now, or you’ll be taxed. Either way it’s money out of your pocket at the government’s demand.

Ryan put this on Facebook. It’s where Obama argued in 2009 this isn’t a tax. But the highest court in all the land says it’s a tax.

We still have a horrible healthcare problem in America. We have an insurance problem. We have a pharmaceutical problem.

Higher taxes and not much to show for it. Hot dog. Bring it on. All those safe seats in middle-class Democratic districts aren’t quite as safe as they used to be. After all, those representatives raised about $2 trillion in taxes without doing anything to bring healthcare costs down.

A victory for Obama is a middle class tax increase. Campaign on that.


  1. It doesn’t really matter. It won’t be a good campaign argument. Note that the mandate isn’t a tax for the purpose of the anti-injunction act, but is a tax for the purpose of its constitutionality. Apparently it’s a good chameleon, and it will change its colors again during the campaign.

    We had a chance for do-over. Kennedy was on board, along with the three reliable votes. All we needed was the Chief, who was widely expected to vote with Kennedy. This is a blow to the gut.

    I couldn’t care less about the election. Healthcare isn’t an issue that the legislature can fix. We needed the courts to reverse their latest attempt, but they refused to do it. Mitt Obama and the Republocrats aren’t going to be able to fix anything, nor do I really want them to try. They’ll just screw it up further.

  2. Well there’s one vote for anarchy. 🙂

  3. Not anarchy. Just an area where the legislature should just get out of the way. Instead of “Repeal and Replace,” it’s just “Repeal.” That won’t happen, though.

    Remember the last time they were in power, they gave us Medicare Part D, which the Democrats (who opposed it at the time) were more than happy to expand once they took over.

    At this point, I’m vindictive. I can’t wait for Kathleen Siebelius or some future HHS secretary to require the Catholic Church to provide abortions and birth control or lose their tax-exempt status and Medicare contracts. The Catholic Church fought for years to get universal healthcare as a right. They got their wish.

  4. In my career I have lived with Supreme Court decisions that were unpopular. But as a lawyer and a judge I have taken an oath to uphold the legal precedent of our highest court. Congress apparantly believes they have the power to decide otherwise and work to defeat the decision/s of the Supreme Court. and maybe they do. The Lathrop decision ruled that lawyer advertising was legal and therefore diminished respect for a noble profession. The Supreme Court elected a President and diminished the law of states rights. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people and gave the rich and famous the power to subsidize their own candidates for public office. All my learned law professors taught, and still do, that a corporation is a ficticious entity created to avoid personal liability.
    In my opinion these are bad laws but I am sworn to uphold them as legal precedent in the highest form. Chief Justice Roberts writing for the majority ruled that the affordable health care act is constitutional. that was the issue on appeal. Be like me and accept the ruling as the law from the best judicial system in the world, like it or not.

  5. @Dick, the SCOTUS ruling was a rather novel theory. We’ll have to live with it as precedent, and Roberts was careful to write 59 pages of guidance, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    Actually, if anything, it means that we should amend the 16th amendment, which is far too broad and has been used to justify social engineering exercises by both sides ever since the income tax was put into place. Things like the mortgage interest deduction, the earned income tax credit, and even our existing health system are direct or indirect effects of using the tax code as a mechanism for advancing social causes. Taxes are supposed to be about raising revenue, not changing behavior.

    There were 4 voices on the court who were willing to throw out the entire law and force a do-over based on the argument that the law was premised on a fundamental expansion of the commerce clause. Roberts actually agreed with them but then did philosophical acrobatics to preserve the law. He’s the only 1 out of 9 who justified the law on its taxing power. Him plus the 4 liberals (who were OK with using the commerce clause) meant that the law stood.

    It’s a confusing ruling that essentially renders limits on the commerce clause, or any other limit on federal power meaningless. Congress will now just start justifying everything on their power to tax. From the 1942 Wickard case until the 1995 Lopez case, Congress justified everything including the Civil Rights Act under the guise of “regulating interstate commerce.” Now they’ll just use the “it’s a tax” justification if they aren’t comfortable using the commerce clause.

    Want to require that GM give everyone a “free” car? Just impose a 100% tax on them if they don’t. Want to require that everyone buy a cell phone? Just impose a 20% income surtax on everyone who doesn’t. Want to make everyone go to church on Sunday? Raise taxes by 100% and give everyone who goes to church a tax credit. Where does it end?

  6. I see Dick’s point.

  7. Wilson828 says:

    true .. it’s a tax … all social reform comes as a tax… it’s what congress is allowed to do…

    but more true than anything said so far is that: “We still have a horrible healthcare problem in America. We have an insurance problem. We have a pharmaceutical problem.” Add to that we have a physician and hospital problem.

    Healthcare is the great American joke.

  8. Nice additions Wilson828. Glad to see you are still kicking. 🙂

  9. @Dick, not if he flipped to respond to political pressure to “preserve the court’s legitimacy.”


    If this is true, he just politicized it even more, because it means the court can be intimidated, just as it was by FDR’s court packing scheme to issue rulings like Wickard.

  10. And, I may add, we also have a horrible tax code problem.

  11. That too. When you think about it, we’re still rather screwed, even if the mandate had gone down.

  12. The “Obamacare tax” by the numbers:

    $700: Amount individuals will have to pay on their federal taxes if they don’t have health insurance.

    $972: Amount state employees have to pay each year for an individual policy.

    $1212: Amount you have to pay on your Massachusetts income tax as an individual if you don’t have health insurance.

    Now let’s try it for families.

    $1400: Amount a married couple pays on federal taxes if neither has health insurance.

    $2412: Amount that state employees pay for couple/family coverage.

    $2424: Amount that a married couple pays under Romneycare.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure the freeloaders who don’t want health insurance will be just fine.

  13. I’m not sure what your point is, Alex.

    CJ Roberts did his best mental acrobatics to justify the tax argument on the grounds that it was “reasonable” in relation to the cost of insurance. However, expect Congress to make more and more use of its “taxation” power now that SCOTUS has indicated they are willing to allow something to pass under the taxing powers even if it is expressly called a penalty. Also, the definition of “reasonable” will undoubtedly be stretched beyond the limit, just as the Commerce Clause was ultimately used to justify Wickard and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (even though the 14th Amendment would have been a better basis for the latter, and there was no justification for the former).

  14. when the Brewers lose by one run it is a loss. when they win by one run it is a win. when the majority rules in the land of the free it is the law.

  15. @Dick, this isn’t a game, and apparently you miss the whole point of the constitution. The majority cannot simply impose its will on the minority. That’s just mob rule. Checks and balances are in place precisely to limit the power of the majority. In this case, a 4-1-4 ruling resulted in SCOTUS failing to act as that check on the power of the other two branches. Roberts agreed that the mandate violated the commerce clause, and that the necessary and proper clause offered no cover. 7 justices agreed that the Medicaid expansion was coercive and unconstitutional. 4 were going to uphold the mandate and the rest of the law on the commerce clause. 4 were going to chuck the whole thing out, having found that 2 pillars were unconstitutional. Roberts originally was with the latter 4, but then played intellectual acrobatics in a cynical political move to avoid the court being branded as partisan. We’re no longer the land of the free because justices have fallen down on the job. I’m extremely disappointed that Roberts was one of them, particularly after he quite forcefully reaffirmed the correct decision in Citizens United just 3 days ago.

  16. Benjamin Franklin, 1787: [You have] a Republic, if you can keep it.

    Sorry Ben. We let you down. 🙁

  17. If Obamacare is a tax, then of course it is constitutional and I don’t see what all the hullabaloo is about. Apparently the great John Roberts discovered this giant tax increase (on people who don’t have insurance and won’t buy it). Thank God for him.

    Of course those idiot conservative judges Scalia and Kennedy and Alito dissented, so its not a tax. I guess we disagree with them now.

    Or do you just type without thinking?

    Also, this biggest tax on the “middle class”? How big is it? If you can’t say, you can’t say its the biggest. What was biggest before that? You don’t know. But this tax on the uninsured (lets say 40 million) is about 100 bucks a head, if they don’t get insurance. So the biggest tax on the middle class ever is 4 billion dollars total? Prove it.

  18. Randy in Richmond says:

    I’ll be glad to provide some specifics once you provide proof of your “$1oo bucks a head” for the uninsured. And “$100 bucks a head” per what ?

  19. How big is it? I heard a discussion on CNBC yesterday that analysts expect $2 TRILLION dollars to be injected into the healthcare business because of this decision.

    It’s about $500 a month for a healthy young adult to buy insurance. That’s $6,000 in expense. I also read where the first penalty – excuse me “tax” – would be $95 a year. If I were cheap and healthy I’d pay the tax.

    And, no one seems to want to admit, this decision as championed by the Obama administration does nothing to lower the cost of healthcare or make it more accessible to individual purchasers.

    Though under your estimation the total tax revenue would be 40 million, please consider some of those individuals pay net zero in taxes. So if someone paying no taxes is now paying 100 a year in taxes, that’s a pretty big increase. More math: The average American makes $50,000. One chart I saw says 17% of that is Federal taxes. That’s $8,500. A $100 increase is about 12% of that $8,500.

    If you were told you were getting a 12% tax increase how would you feel?

    This Forbes article argues the tax is equal to the cost of the forced insurance purchase. http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2012/06/29/is-obamacare-the-largest-tax-increase-in-u-s-history/

    So you see, it’s not the revenues. One’s increase in one’s tax would be determined by what one is currently paying in taxes.

    Something tells me you may not know a whole lot about paying taxes.

    Do you even think before you type?

    **You have no idea the words I edited from this response.

  20. KPOM. what law school did you go to ? we have a rule of law in this great country of ours that the majority rules. it is fair and it works. “mob rule”. another trite word which is baseless. if it is your way the minority rules. try it out for size. it has never worked. the US Supreme Court is the law of the land and we must respect that even though it did now go the way you want. as a lawyer I have lived with some decisions I did not agree with but have taken a sworn oath to uphold the law as written. non-lawyers and non-judges are not bound by an oath like that. so your first amendment rights are protected by the Supreme Court, as in the hero that lies case. Congress will do what they want by MAJORITY RULE, if you please. in the meantime the lawyers in Congress will have to justify why they do not now follow the rule of law and legal precedent. this is also a lesson in free speech which we cherish.

  21. @Dick, I didn’t go to law school, which is probably why I understand the intent of our laws better than you. We have checks and balances precisely to ensure that we don’t have absolute rule of the majority.

    Yes, within each branch or house, a majority vote wins, and we have single-choice plurality voting (for the most part), but we have staggered terms, judicial oversight, Senate approval of appointments and treaties, etc. and a division of powers between state and federal precisely to protect the rights of the minority.

    @Cindy, a WSJ op-ed piece earlier this week suggested eliminating the word “trillion” and writing it out in full. Instead of a debt of $15.77 trillion, it is instead $15,772,172,351,447. A letter to the editor had, IMO, a better idea. He suggested replacing the dollar with the “solyndra” equal to $535,000,000. Our debt becomes a far more manageable 29,480 solyndras. The “affordable care act” introduces 3738 solyndras into the health care system.

  22. Ooh. Spiffy new unit of measurement!

  23. The Lorax says:

    KPOM, you’re right about what you said to Dick (minus the condescending aside about his law degree) but I might add that the concept of protecting the minority (not to be confused with racial minorities) is really most apparent institutionally in congress. In the other two branches, there really aren’t many protections.

    Sure, the minority on the court can write a dissenting opinion, which helps build the case for overturning decisions later on, but once a law reaches the SCOTUS, there isn’t much in the way of minority protections. There is no filibuster in the courts, and there is not 2/3 majority required. There is no anonymous hold, either.

    Then the executive branch is really the domain of one person–the president. So there is no minority or majority stake. There is soft power for minority opinions – discussion, persuasion.

    So when you really boil it down, the Senate is really the only place in government where we have a true check on the majority institutionally.

    THAT being said, “The Rule of Law” that Dick invokes DOES NOT equal majority rule. The rule of law refers to the idea that we are a nation of laws, and we regulate conduct, behavior, and rules by codifying them into a system of laws. This idea derives from the Code of Hammurabi, as we all know.

    Majority rule does not have anything to do with the rule of law, and in fact, many decisions made by our government do not hold popular majority. We see this throughout history with many programs and advances. The majority, as it turns out, is often wrong.

  24. Yes! That was a good piece. I’ve read half a dozen that indeed lead me to believe all is not lost.

  25. J. Strupp says:

    No problem KPOM. As long we’re also forced to write out the size of GDP long hand.

    Because I’m sure your intention is to accurately portray our debt/deficit situation and not mislead Americans who don’t know the other side of the equation right?

    Could you also express the cost of this new program in terms of “Iraq Wars”? We didn’t get jack squat out of that either. Thanks bud.

  26. Randy in Richmond says:

    I’m glad you stated either in your comment Strupp. I can agree with that.

  27. @J Strupp, either way, our debt is now greater than our GDP.

    As for the Iraq war, tell that to John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, who voted to authorize it. In fact, it had broad bipartisan support. I suppose that the “unintelligent” Bush was able to fool our wise elected representatives.

    BTW Cindy, something is odd with the way your site is displaying on the Mac (either Safari or Firefox). The text is very big. It is fine on Windows.

  28. Randy in Richmond says:

    It’s doing it on my Windows also.

  29. Thanks for letting me know. I messed with something. Does it help?

  30. Yes, it’s fine now.

  31. It is a fact that the Bush administration was able to fool both our congress, the united nations, Great Britain, and everyone else who paid attention to the debacle. The Iraq military complex was phoney as proven in the first gulf war. Sadaam did not scare Iran, Egypt, Israel or any other nearby country. he wanted respect as a real general instead of the fake bufoon he was. there were no weapons of mass destruction nor were there any used in the Iraq war when we invaded. Cheney and Rumsfield knew our country wanted revenge and they pinned the whole thing on Sadaam. Their promise of oil paying us for the war was a promise from Alice in Wonderland. The same Iraq people who were to cheer us now hate us as well are the Arab work who see us as the Darth Vaders of the world. How much did that war costs us in money, lives and reputation ? it was over the top for a political military complex, warned by Eisenhower, and pursued by Nixon and LBJ, one from each political party. 911 was so emotionally filled that we hated the agressors and anyone else like them.

  32. Dick, considering that the Middle East sends most of its oil to Europe, not North America, I have a hard time believing the Dick Cheney conspiracy theories. If we were after cheap oil, it would have been easier to keep Saddam propped up and get in on the “oil for food” fraud that France and Germany supported.

    I think that we had flawed, but well-intentioned intelligence information. Bill Clinton went on David Letterman a few weeks after 9/11 and said that as soon as the attacks happened, he knew it was bin Laden, claiming that that only al Qaeda OR Iraq could have pulled it off. Thus, even he conceded that Iraq was a threat.

    I thought that the war was poorly planned (I did at the time, as well), and poorly executed. However, I don’t subscribe to the vast left wing conspiracy theories.

    @Cindy, I read the Krauthammer piece, as well. I’d recommend this piece:

  33. Indeed, KPOM. I had a discussion with someone else yesterday who used the term “apologists.”

    With all that was written about the decision last week, to me, if you compare the Krauthammer article against Yoo’s piece you just linked, those are the two ends of the spectrum conservatives are considering. (Yoo’s might fall into the “phyrric victory” discussion I’ve also heard.)

    It is not my nature to be optimistic. I’m usually quite the crank. But I do think Roberts did this country a favor to remind us Obama and decisions like his convoluted Health Insurance Reform are our fault.

    We need to save ourselves.

  34. Randy in Richmond says:

    Let’s suppose I come to Wisconsin. Cindy, Wilson, and I go out to eat at say–Hooters. We have a great meal and the waitress comes to take our dessert orders. Cindy goes for the Carmel Fudge Cheesecake and Wilson orders the Key Lime Pie. I pass on eating dessert. Later the waitress brings us all our tabs and I notice a charge for dessert–that I didn’t want. Our waitress informs me the governing agency passed a law that if one doesn’t eat dessert, a tax (some call it a penalty) must be paid to the agency anyway. I informed her I had dessert at home and liked to take care of it myself. She said that would be fine as long as I paid the penalty. But heck, paying the penalty (much less than the pie) doesn’t get me any dessert but I learn I can opt in any time to get my pie. Seems strange.

    This is just a pretend trip though I may really visit one day.

  35. I’m not buying that you all went to Hooters for a ‘great meal’ in that parable, RinR. Otherwise, the story makes sense. 🙂

  36. Randy in Richmond says:

    I know you are aware there’s a difference between a great meal and a dinning experience. They do have the best wings around though–but there’s a FC site history involved also. 🙂

  37. Oh, yes. I’ve heard about their ‘wings’. 🙂

    (And on another seemingly unrelated subject, but not so in my leap-frog thinking mind, I’ve been told by my movie reviewer guy friend, that Magic Mike is definelty NOT a “guys” movie. So no taking in that movie after the your non-consumption of dessert tax experience. )

    I need enlightenment to make the FC Hooter’s affiliation. I missed that one.

  38. Randy in Richmond says:

    Here’s one of several historical readings, RL. And gee, it’s going on 3 years. Maybe someone can fill me in on all the crime your Hooters’ has caused. 🙂


  39. Cute Randy. Very cute. 😉

    My aunt is here for a couple of days, so I’m in and out. I wasn’t ignoring you.