Chief Justice John Roberts’s original 2012 defense of Obamacare was based on his understanding of the individual mandate as a “tax.”
Roberts’s defense of Obamacare derails arguments from numerous Democratic lawmakers, progressive activists and journalists that the inclusion of an individual mandate repeal in a tax reform bill disingenuously conflates two distinct policy areas.
Roberts defended the Obamacare individual mandate on the basis that it falls under the broad congressional power to raise taxes “for the general welfare.”
“The Federal Government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance. Section 5000A is therefore constitutional, because it can reasonably be read as a tax,” Roberts wrote for the court in defense of its 5-4 decision in favor of Obamacare.
Democratic opponents of the most recent Senate tax reform proposal, unveiled Tuesday, have attacked GOP lawmakers for attempting to disguise their repeal of the individual mandate, which will save $300 billion in federal revenue and result in roughly 13 million more uninsured over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“This is turning a tax bill into a health care bill, with our colleagues getting an hour’s worth of notice,” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, told The New York Times.
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York called the move “a back-door approach to get ‘Trumpcare.'”
Vice President of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress, Topher Spiro, accused Republicans of shifting the bill’s focus from taxes to health care.
The tax bill is now a health care bill. Same rotting carcass. pic.twitter.com/wqbzBojQfC
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) November 15, 2017
GOP Sen. John Thune pushed back against criticism that the individual mandate repeal is not germane to tax reform when addressing reporters Tuesday.
“My understanding is the individual mandate is a tax collected by the IRS,” Thune said.
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