Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: July 17, 2010

Health insurance mandate – Obama administration now arguing it is a tax

Having made it up as they go, the Obama administration is now arguing that the mandate to buy insurance coverage under Obamacare is a perfectly legal tax.

That, of course, after the President denied it was a tax in order to sell it:

“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” the president said last September, in a spirited exchange with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program “This Week.”

When Mr. Stephanopoulos said the penalty appeared to fit the dictionary definition of a tax, Mr. Obama replied, “I absolutely reject that notion.”

You can tell he was a constitutional expert when he taught, can’t you?

So much so that the Department of Justice, in a brief defending the law, claims it to be a "valid exercise of the Congressional power to impose taxes:

Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution, the department said. For more than a century, it added, the Supreme Court has held that Congress can tax activities that it could not reach by using its power to regulate commerce.

Except Congress doesn’t argue that at all.  Instead it relies on the Commerce Clause as its justification for the mandate:

Congress anticipated a constitutional challenge to the individual mandate. Accordingly, the law includes 10 detailed findings meant to show that the mandate regulates commercial activity important to the nation’s economy. Nowhere does Congress cite its taxing power as a source of authority.

And then, per the White House, if any additional authority is needed – other than the power to define and then levy taxes (Congress) or the commerce clause, why just consult the General Welfare Clause.  They have more Constitutional ways to make you buy something you may not want than you can imagine:

“The Commerce Clause supplies sufficient authority for the shared-responsibility requirements in the new health reform law,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “To the extent that there is any question of additional authority — and we don’t believe there is — it would be available through the General Welfare Clause.”

One has to assume they just plan on overwhelming the Court with as many “viable alternatives” as it takes to get their way.

One Yale professor says the tax argument – the one Mr. Obama denied – is the strongest argument:

Jack M. Balkin, a professor at Yale Law School who supports the new law, said, “The tax argument is the strongest argument for upholding” the individual-coverage requirement.

Mr. Obama “has not been honest with the American people about the nature of this bill,” Mr. Balkin said last month at a meeting of the American Constitution Society, a progressive legal organization. “This bill is a tax. Because it’s a tax, it’s completely constitutional.”

Nice.

Smoke, mirrors, deceit and debt.  That’s what you get for trusting a snake-oil salesman with your health care.  Oh and this:

“This is the first time that Congress has ever ordered Americans to use their own money to purchase a particular good or service,” said Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah.

If this survives the court challenge, it won’t be the last – trust me on that.

The irony, of course, is the Constitution was written to limit government and keep it off our back.  Instead it is now being used to expand government and intrude more and more deeply in our lives.

~McQ

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Obama: Ideologue selling what no one is buying

Two articles of interest this week which caught my eye.  On comes from the NY Times and is headlined, “Obama pushes agenda, despite political risks”.

One of the things I remember clearly from the campaign is how the lapdog media – and that would include the NY Times – kept telling us what a “pragmatist” Barack Obama was.  That we would most likely see the 2nd coming of Bill Clinton with this guy.

Meanwhile there were a small group of us out here pointing out that there was nothing in this guy’s scant background that pointed to pragmatism and a lot that pointed to an idealist, activist and ideologue.  We were scoffed at quite consistently.

I love “I told you so moments”.  While Sheryl Gay Stolberg can’t quite make herself use the “ideologue” word, pragmatism is a word unheard.  And she does say:

What Mr. Obama and his allies portray as progressive, activist government has been framed by his opponents as overreaching and profligate when it comes to the economy.

Remember, she’s supposedly portraying the Obama administration as they’ve portrayed themselves – as ideologues.

Her essential message is, while he and his cronies may have managed to pass some legislation they tout as historic or landmark, that’s not how it is perceived by the seething, voting masses.  But, ever tuned into the electorate (yeah, that’s sarcasm), he’s pushing ahead with those legislative agenda items his ideology favors despite the electorates rejection of them in poll after poll.  That includes stimulus, health care and now financial regulation.

That brings us to the financial regulation bill and an article by Kimberley Strassel.  You need to read it, but again, it is the way she phrases a certain part of it that I find interesting:

Which brings us to yesterday’s passage of Mr. Obama’s financial overhaul bill. The press is hailing it as another big Obama victory, one that allows the president to brag about fulfilling his agenda and allows Democrats a "reform" to wave going into midterms.

Certainly that can be read a couple of ways, no doubt.  But in the context of the next paragraph, not so much:

Maybe. Or maybe there’s every reason to believe the financial overhaul—like stimulus and health care—proves more political liability than political benefit.

Of course, stimulus and financial regulation were not “agenda items” of the campaign.  Health care certainly was, even if the final law was a progressive monstrosity of which the majority of Americans wanted no part.  Same with the “stimulus”.  But, the ideology Obama believes in dictated those moves regardless of the public’s wants and desires.

Financial regulation, however, was a target of opportunity.  It was the crisis opportunity Rahm Emanuel spoke about early in the administration which allowed them to push their ideological even a step further.  Another 2,500 page bill filled with who knows what aimed specifically at the private sector, while the role of the mismanaged Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have all but been ignored and they’ve been fed another half trillion dollars with little fan fare (they’ve also been delisted from the stock market making it even harder to monitor their activity).

The whole point here is only an ideologue would push an “agenda” so hard that it harmed him and his party politically to the point that they may be voted out of power and stay out for some time (assuming the GOP can field better candidates than it is right now or seems likely to field in 2012).  A pragmatist would favor an incremental bi-partisan approach that is politically healthy.  An ideologue, while mouthing platitudes about bi-partisanship, wouldn’t really care that much as long as he had the votes needed to pass his agenda item.

That’s the real Obama.  That was pretty clear to those of us who weren’t wearing blinders or rose colored glasses (or both) during the campaign.  It is clear we were right.  It is also clear that the media was complicit in selling us a bill of goods on this man that was never evident nor believable to those with a discerning eye.

Meanwhile, in Alaska, the media was going through Sarah Palin’s underwear drawer.

Yeah – they should indeed be ashamed (and the “journalists” wonder why they’re held in such low esteem and they have to hint at government subsidies as a good idea for their survival.  They earned that  low esteem and they can go under with it as well.).

~McQ

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Outsourcing "outrage"

A union, outraged over the fact that non-union workers were being used in the construction of a Washington office building decided to protest and picket. 

But, uh, it was just too hard or too much of a hassle to have real union people do it, so they hired some non-union unemployed at minimum wage instead:

"For a lot of our members, it’s really difficult to have them come out, either because of parking or something else," explains Vincente Garcia, a union representative who is supervising the picketing.

So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage—$8.25 an hour—to walk picket lines.

Which I’m sure has the developer and non-union workers in the building just quaking in their boots.

The article goes on to say that a lot of protest groups and advocacy groups have hit a bonanza with the unemployed.  They can hire them for peanuts (min. wage) and swell their groups and pad their numbers in public.

For the unemployed?  Well, I’m sure any little bit does help, of course.  And it sure beats standing on street corners waving “we buy gold” signs – I guess.

But keep that in mind the next time numbers are quoted at a protest or rally for something.

~McQ

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