Trevor Burrus of the libertarian think tank Cato Institute told The Daily Caller on Thursday that the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate as a tax because “it was the most politically acceptable conclusion that the court could reach.”
“I think they gave something to both sides because the Commerce Clause argument that we’ve been arguing at Cato … was upheld,” explained Burrus, a legal associated at Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies. “Now, we don’t get much out of that, because all that means is that the Commerce Clause is what it was in 2010, which is a badly misshapen form of what it should be because of the New Deal reform. So we don’t get a lot out of that.”
“We get a nice little shout-out to federalism, state power, and how there are limits to the commerce clause, but then coming in the back door, we get the taxing power,” he said.
Burrus spoke of Congress’ new “ability to tax things that it didn’t even think it had the ability to tax before.”
He added, “They don’t even have to say the word ‘tax,’ which is really good for them because then people won’t know that Congress is taxing them, which of course is the ultimate gift for Congress because years ago, most people didn’t know they raised taxes but found out today that they raised taxes.”
Burrus also spoke of the possibility of Congress abusing this power in the future.
“If the political will is there to slide in different ways to take money from people, I won’t put it past Congress to use it. They might let it die down for 20 years so people will maybe forget about it, but another penalty going forward because you didn’t do something — you’re not buying solar panels for your house or you haven’t purchased something so there will be a penalty in your tax code for this.”
Videography by Sarah Hofmann