The Individual Mandate—It’s a Tax
Maybe it’s all water under the bridge. Once a law is passed, there’s not much you can do about it. But the Obama administration’s reversal on the legal status of the “individual mandate” to buy health insurance is profound.
As the New York Times reports in this story:
“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.”
In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.
Is there one reality for campaigning about a bill, and another one about the U.S. Constitution?
Its jaw-dropping to think that a politician can say one thing so emphatically and walk away from it just a few short months later.
So. What can you do about it? One thing is to join in the debate about spending to enforce the individual mandate. We wrote a few months ago about all the IRS agents that will be hired to enforce the individual mandate. In fairness, there aren’t as many as was being reported, they aren’t all “agents,” and they won’t all be at the IRS.
But between now and the fall, this new spending will be in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. These annual spending bills must be passed by October 1, 2010, the start of the new fiscal year.
Chances are good that there will be a debate about spending to enforce the individual mandate, and chances are good that you’ll be able to read about it here.