Was the Supreme Court correct to describe ObamaCare’s individual mandate a ‘tax,’ or is that a canard?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the individual mandate is permissible when viewed as a tax. Several smart commenters have noted the problems associated that definition:

Here’s one,

The court cannot read into an act what is not plainly stated in the bill. The act plainly states it is a penalty. Taxes are not penalties. Taxes can only begin in the House. Robert’s has legislated from the bench and should be impeached. The correct ruling should have been, if you think the penalty is a tax, to send it back to Congress and say you straighten it out. The entire act is invalidated on the 10th Amendment grounds.


Never before in the court’s history has it it interpreted as a tax: 1) What was explicitly stated to be a penalty in the statute; 2) Whose function, as demonstrated in the statute, is punitive; and 3) Whose position in the statute IS NOT IN THE FUNDING SECTION. Congress went to great lengths to assure the mandate was not, in any shape or form, interpretable as a tax. As the dissenters noted, the house rejected an earlier version of the statute that cast the mandate in the form of a tax.

It is absolutely true that — prior to yesterday’s decision — Democrats were insistent that the mandate isn’t a tax. President Obama himself adamantly rejected the idea: “For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.

(emphasis mine)

Even yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to call ObamaCare a tax.

So it wasn’t a tax — and then was a tax — and Democrats still won’t call it a tax.

In that case, I agree with Democrats that this isn’t a tax — and instead falls under the Commerce Clause — and will gladly accept their decision to repeal this clearly unconstitutional law.

Matt K. Lewis