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05 August 2010

Justice Department Claims Taxing Power is Constitutionally Unlimited in Defense of ObamaCare

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ruled in Richmond, VA on 2 August that the Virginia attorney general lawsuit claiming that ObamaCare was unconstitutional had enough merit that he would not stop it from moving to a trial in October in Richmond.  The Virginia legislature has also passed a law protecting its citizens from being forced to buy health insurance by the federal government.  Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said, "The government cannot draft an unwilling citizen into commerce just so it can regulate him under the commerce clause."  Foolishly, the state of Virginia's lawyers have conceded that the federal government has broad powers to impose a tax, but they claim it has less power to impose a penalty. 

The Justice Department claims that Congress has broad authority to regulate private decisions on health care since those decisions affect the health care system and therefore interstate commerce.  They also claim the power to tax people who refuse to join mandated programs.  In fact, they go so far as to claim that the "courts are without authority to limit the exercise of the taxing power."

Now, the Justice Department is insanely wrong on both claims it is making.  This is not to say that they will not carry the day in court, but they are clearly making two unconstitutional arguments at the core of their case. 

First, they are claiming that anyone who does not purchase a health insurance plan acceptable to the federal government is affecting the health care system because at some time they will need to use the health care system.  This in turn means it affects interstate commerce.  So, a person is to be forced to buy a particular, mandated health insurance policy or one of a few such policies so that he will be forced to affect interstate commerce.  Well, actually, this may not be true at all.  First, some people will actually die without getting health care, though we do not know who they will be.  Second, some people are so wealthy that they have no need to purchase insurance to provide for their own health needs.  It is clear that the Obama faction want to force such people to buy policies which will subsidize others with less income, but such wealthy people are not evading a personal responsibility as the Justice Department argues they are.  Third, the policy best suited to some individuals will surely be different than the government mandated policies.  Fourth, it is a novel legal claim to force people to buy a product so that they have been forced to participate in commerce they did not want to participate in.  Fifth, that commerce still may not truly be interstate commerce since health plans are to be formulated and administered state by state.

Recall that Congress voted for ObamaCare while claiming that it did not represent a tax, which was a point Obama was very insistent upon.  But now, in the face of the challenge by the state of Virginia, and a separate lawsuit by the attorney generals of 20 other states, which is coming up for a similar ruling on whether it will be allowed to proceed, the Justice Department is claiming that Congress has the authority to pass ObamaCare based on its taxing power.  In fact, it has no such power since the taxing power only exists for the purpose of exercising the strictly enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, where there is no mention of caring for the medical needs of the People.  This inconvenient fact has long been ignored, however.

The current Justice Department claim goes even further than this usual usurpation of power by Congress.  It claims that the courts have no power to limit the taxation power!  Why is this going much further?  Because the Constitution places a further restriction on what Congress can do beyond enumerating its powers.  It says that Congress must legislate in such a way that it does not harm the General Welfare.  So, if ObamaCare is not consistent with the General Welfare, then it is unconstitutional.  Some will debate whether it is or not, though most of the American People have concluded that it is harmful to them.  What cannot be debated is this:  The taxing power of Congress is limited by the General Welfare and therefore it is a serious usurpation of power by Congress and the Justice Department to claim that power is unlimited.  This is clearly the claim of megalomaniacs.  There can be no question that if Congress levels a tax of 100% of income upon any American citizen, it has fundamentally violated his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The power to tax must have limits.  It cannot be unlimited.  If Congress were not to have enough sense to recognize this, then the courts would have to step in and declare the excessive taxes unconstitutional.

Judge Hudson recognized some of these problems.  He said, "Never before has the [Constitution's] commerce clause and associated necessary and proper clause been extended this far."  Indeed, if they are extended so far, then there are no limits to the power of the federal government except the few among the many rights still protected in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment.  We can then be forced to participate in any market for any good or service and then be controlled by regulation.  We can be taxed in any way to any degree by government so that it can acquire all of our income and wealth, leaving us even homeless, without clothing, and without food.  Clearly, it is the job of the federal courts to squash these hugely inflated claims of power made by the Obama Justice Department in the name of the Democrat Congress.  Your life is at stake in this.  This is a claim of a right to tyrannical rule which King George III would not have attempted.

Now that the Justice Department has claimed that ObamaCare actually invokes taxation, let us examine the evolving size of this tax.  The Kaiser Family Foundation survey of employers in 2009 found that the average premium for employer-provided family policies was $13,375.  This is the kind of policy that ObamaCare is expected to mandate, when the bureaucrats come forth with their mandates.  This is 26% of the median household income of $52,000.  ObamaCare will provide some subsidies for incomes up to $88,000, but this is still a massive tax on many earning less than $88,000 and the subsidy cost will be shifted to everyone making more than $88,000 and fall back in increased prices for all goods and services upon those who are subsidized as well.  The new tax on a family with a household income of $88,000 will be 15.2%!

It gets worse.  The Arizona Republic said in July that "State and university employees with families can expect to see their monthly health insurance costs rise as much as 37% next year."  The reason for the increase is ObamaCare!  If this kind of severe health insurance premium increase continues into 2014 when ObamaCare requires everyone to purchase the federally mandated health insurance policies, then this tax upon the People will be the most gigantic tax ever in the history of the United States!  Obama and the Democrat Congress have foisted the highest tax increase in our history upon us in a law most Americans clearly opposed then and continue to oppose today.

Throw these tyrannical bums out of office as a matter of self-preservation!  Meanwhile, we must hope the federal courts have enough sense to declare ObamaCare unconstitutional.  It clearly is.


Anonymous said...

What the hell is our servants and trustees talking about here? There is a constitutional limit on taxation. Article I, Section 2, Clause 3; Section 8, Clause 1; and Section 9, Clause 4, these provisions have never been altered, amended, or repealed since 1787. All indirect taxes (“duties, imposts, excises”) are subject to the rule of uniformity, and all direct taxes are subject to the rule of apportionment. Direct taxes must be apportioned, and billed to the States. All taxes and duties have proper subjects and objects. That is, taxes are to be imposed only within the limits of properly delegated authority, only upon proper subjects and only to the extent of constitutionally limited objectives. These servants and trustees need English 101, Constitution 101, and Theory of our Founding Fathers 101.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

You are right to add the further limitations you have mentioned, but they have long been largely ignored. Not surprisingly, the government simply ignores those provisions of the Constitution which inconveniently limit its powers as much as they can get away with it. Over the years, they have pushed back the limits steadily and unrelentingly, but with a massive long-term effect. The Teddy Roosevelt statement that he will do what he wants to do unless it is prohibited by the Constitution became the Progressives' critical inversion of its limits on governmental power. It was no longer enough that Congress had no powers but those listed. Now it had to be told explicitly that it has no power to regulate and control health and medical services and anything else it got the bee in its bonnet to meddle with in our lives. Then many an explicit provision came to be ignored, such as the 2nd Amendment, the 9th Amendment, the 10th Amendment, and the privileges or immunities clause of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment.

Only when the vast majority of the American People become familiar with their Constitution once again, will we be likely to have Senators and Representatives who understand it and care to abide by it.