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Obama and Romney are Right: It’s Not a Tax

Many years ago, one of Virginia’s tax collectors pulled my car over. This agent, smartly dressed in a blue suit, had – I know, it’s frightening – a gun at his side, which he’d surely have used if I threw a violent fit about having to pay my taxes.

He had decided on the spot that, though I thought I had already paid all my taxes, I now owed the Commonwealth of Virgina an additional $125, and he gave me a little slip of paper to remind me. The slip said I would pay or he would see me in court.

Now, you wouldn’t really think of a Virginia State Trooper as a tax agent, would you? But many conservatives are applying the same logic to Obamacare, proposing that what is clearly a penalty – just like my speeding ticket was a penalty – is in fact a tax. The same conservatives, mind you, who would have celebrated a ruling against Obamacare under the Commerce Clause and never once suggested the law should be upheld because it was in fact a tax.

I understand the temptation to use this ruling to savage President Obama as the Great Tax Hiker on the Middle Class, the Supreme Hypocrite who promised not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year and then went ahead and did so in grand style. And I get the anger conservatives are directing at Mitt Romney for agreeing with Obama in order to protect his own legacy as a governor who authored Romneycare but didn’t raise taxes.

Obama of course is a hypocrite. The middle class will feel the lightening of its pockets from a penalty just as surely as it would from a tax.

But there is a distinction, and it’s a distinction with a difference. And it should matter greatly to conservatives, who are suddenly concurring with the Roberts decision in order to snag a campaign talking point – albeit admittedly good one – in exchange for grievous long term damage to their cause.

The law says you must do something – purchase health insurance – or incur a penalty. Roberts said this is impermissible under the Commerce Clause because it falls outside Congress’s right to regulate commerce – since not buying something isn’t commerce – but allowable under Congress’s Constitutional prerogative to assess taxes.

But this is equally pernicious, since it stipulates that Congress’s indisputable right to tax can NOW APPLY TO NOTHING.

Do nothing, get taxed.

What, you didn’t install solar panels in your home? Pay a tax. You didn’t buy at least one item of Native American handicraft last year? Pay a tax. You failed to purchase a slice of fish for your family once a week to help cut down on society’s health care costs? Pay a tax. Just a small one, it won’t hurt.

The opportunities for such mischief are endless.

Some argue that since Roberts has now “settled” the matter by declaring the penalty a tax, conservatives are within their rights to call it a tax too.

Which is about as logical as conservatives declaring there is a right to privacy somewhere between the lines of the Constitution that permits unlimited abortion.

Conservatives should not succumb to the very hypocrisy they claim to scorn. The individual mandate is a penalty, even if it hurts now to say so.

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51 Responses to Obama and Romney are Right: It’s Not a Tax

  1. So basically, we’re allowed to call it a a tax or a penalty, whichever works best. To reverse a tax we need a 51% majority, so for that reason it’s a tax. For the purposes of explaining the ramifications of the law itself we can call it a penalty. Personally, my taxes seem like a penalty anyway, so there you go.

    • They passed the abomination through reconciliation so if it is going to be repealed Congress should be able to use reconciliation.

  2. It is the same kind of penalty that comes through our taxes for not paying taxes. The IRS will be involved. YAY!!! It is just going to be a mess.

  3. And besides, Romney needs to run on the economy and jobs, not the ObamanationTax. If he gets elected that’s when this behemoth can be repealed. No use arguing this b.s. now.
    The unemployment figures are due out Friday, if they are dismal it will be another nail in the coffin of The O Team’s administration.

  4. This should have stopped the moment that Roberts said that a tax was required to make the legislation constitutional. The language in the ACA says “penalty,” and there is a non-severability clause, so the ACA is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court did a “strike down,” but called it an “up-hold” and no one is pointing this out.

    But, Keith, what you say is outside the picture above is also true and scary. What a gift to the do-gooders who now lead our society — fail to get to normal weight — pay a tax, etc. Fail to do — pay the tax on inaction. OMGosh, what will happen when the “progressives” cotton onto that one — or have they already talked to Roberts about this way to extend their power to shape our lives?

    I’d think I’m paranoid, but this admininstration has taught me that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

  5. For thousands of years, varied civililzations have been governed by adapting the TenCommandments to form laws that insure a peaceful society.
    Our Contitution is simple, it’s goals and restrictions are plain to understand.
    Our Congress, the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch have given us gobbledegook, contradictory, illogical laws and iterpretations that even a Philadelphia lawyer would have trouble understanding.

    After all the parsing of the tax vs a penalty, the only thing that will put an end to this nightmare is to repeal the Act or wait until 2014 when the law takes effect and then challenge the unfairness or unconstitutionality of penalizing/taxing someone for not doing something.

  6. I have to hope and put my faith in the belief that Roberts did this for a reason we don’t yet understand. It has been a penalty all along, to now say it is a tax and therefore constitutional when the government did not even make that arguement makes me think there is more to this than we can see… now. If I am wrong, we are all screwed and welcome to our new Marxist/Socialist/Communist government.

    • I think conservatives are mad because they never considered that the penaltax could be sustained even if the Commerce Clause argument failed. Now they don’t know what they stand for in this debate.

      Maybe, when all is said and done, Roberts actually did stick to his conservative guns, and followed the intent of Congress, which is the obligation of the Court to do, so far as nothing blatantly unconstitutional slips through.

  7. Sure had given the GOP a great argument against re-electing Obama. They should yell it to the rooftops every day all the way to Nov. 6.

      • Hey, I wasn’t one of them, but I don’t blame them for questioning anything about BO since he closed all his records. No one knows for sure what part of his life is the truth and what part is a lie.

        I can’t wait until BO and his family move back to Chicago in January 2013. He has been an unmitigated disaster for our country.

        And I sure don’t care about his skin color. It does appear that you do, however.

        • What a…. curious response. Do you mind if I parse it?

          “Hey, I wasn’t one of them (there birthers).”
          Decryption: “I don’t subscribe to the nuckin’ futz notion that the President of the United States is an illegal alien.”

          “But I don’t blame them for questioning anything about BO since he closed all his records.”
          Decryption: ” Since, according to those nuckin’ futzes, President Obama has sealed the records regarding his birth certificate, it it is only fair that the entire nation be engaged in this conspiracy theory. I, too, want answers.”

          “No one knows for sure what part of his life is the truth and what part is a lie.”
          Decryption: “I cannot tell truth from fiction. And I vote.”

          “And I sure don’t care about his skin color. It does appear that you do, however.”
          Decryption: “Your raising of this issue has indirectly made me confront my own racism. Time to blame the messenger.”

          • LOL . . . you really are an idiot!

            First, if it was only his birth certificate that wasn’t disclosed, then it would be a laughable issue. However, I personally am more concerned with his lack of disclosure of his medical and educational records.

            And after a long time working in law, I would like to know why Barack and Michelle gave up their law licenses so easily. Both black and Harvard trained . . . and they both gave up their law licenses?? Very suspicious to me. They had it “made in the shade”.

            And since BO has been caught in several lies in his own books . . . we sure do not know what is truth and lies about him.

            Racism is your problem . . . not mine since it was you who first used the word “bigot” and nothing had been said about his ethnic background. Therefore, you must see and read everything is a rejection and criticism through your own racist glasses. FYI . . . he is also half white which you “racist” screaming libs forget.

            He is a horrible President. It has nothing to do with the color of his skin . . . it has to do with his ineptitude.

          • 1) I am unaware of what documents, apparently irrelevant to his qualifications to lead, Obama has not disclosed, nor why this should keep you up at night three years in to his term.

            2) Why shouldn’t Barry and Michelle have given up their law licenses? Why have I let MY Triple-A membership lapse? Are you afraid that they have forsaken potentially lucrative post-White House careers as personal injury attorneys? Why does it matter that they are “black and Harvard trained”?

            3) The birther conspiracy IS bigotry. I’m sorry you haven’t caught the subtext of “foreigner”, “alien” and “muslim terrorist” that the conspiracy encapsulates.

          • 1. Since you must be a political novice aside from being a BO sycophant, here is some information for you. Presidential candidates disclose their medical and educaitonal records. We know more about Gov. Romney than we do about BO. We know that the soon to be President Romney earned both this law degree and MBA from Harvard at the same time. Therefore, we know he is beyond brilliant. BO . . . we know he went to Harvard Law School and several other schools. That is it. Nothing that shows him any more qualified to be President than I am.

            2. LOL . . . I am not even going to attempt to educate you on that one. It isn’t worth my time. You should be smart enough to figure that one out.

            3. The “birther conspiracy” is no more of a conspiracy than those who demanded that John McCain’s qualification to serve as President be investigated. Again, it is no more “bigotted” than you are presenting yourself to be. Why you don’t understand when people like you who scream “bigot” or “racist” whenever BO is questioned is not basically pointing the finger right back at yourself is beyond me. It is so simple.

            Now this is the last time I will respond to you. You simply are here trolling. You are not here to learn and discuss so response to you is not going to happen from me.

          • Well, I am sorry our conversation is at an end, although I’m sure someone will pick up your torch. In the meantime:

            1. “BO . . . we know he went to Harvard Law School and several other schools. That is it.”

            And what more do you need, then? Copies of his report cards? He eventually served as a college professor, so it’s safe to assume he has a degree in sumthin’.

            I’m actually glad you feel Romney is “beyond brilliant”. That means that Romneycare is the most “brilliant” solution he could come up with for health insurance reform, and should put to rest any notion that he will replace Affordable Care with something better, which should also put to rest the notion that he will actually work to repeal it.

            2) What is this? Don’t ask don’t tell?

            3). “The ‘birther conspiracy’ is no more of a conspiracy than those who demanded that John McCain’s qualification to serve as President be investigated.”

            Um, yes. Yes it is. One is a conspiracy theory bandied about by mentally ill cranks, and the other is just due dilligence.

          • That must be some good kool-aid your sipping on DR. Just can’t admit Obama is a horrible president. How do you defend the indefensible? With inane comments and snide put downs. Your intellect and wit is a beacon to us all, thanks for sharing.

          • I choose my words as carefully a Chief Justice who has just been bribed by Nancy Pelosi, Keith. If you will check my original comment, I referred to “bigots” within the GOP, not “racists” (I did not impugn Original either, until he all but accused me first). But I will control my serpent’s tongue.

          • (whats its like being a team Obama 2012 troll…? re: jump on conservative/anti-Obama websites and post negative comments…)

          • I really don’t think these are negative. I really do enjoy a nice debate, though it seems a lot of people, when forced to think outside the bubble, prefer just to throw the word “troll” around.

            (And my Kool-Ade flavor is Watermelon Kiwi Colada)

  8. I don’t care what the ruling class calls their Frankenstein creation. Repeal it or We The People will replace every last one of them with people who will. The American people are not going to roll over and accept what these temporary politicians have done to our Constitution. We have had enough of the ruling class and their treachery in stealing our individual liberty and freedom. Roberts’ betrayal was the last straw. He isn’t a stupid man…he knew exactly what he was doing to us.

    Electing Romney and turning out as many Democratic socialists and neo-statist Republicans is job #1. If we don’t win the battle in November, it may be too late to save our Republic.

  9. Money is money whether it’s a tax or a penalty. I think there are some underlying reasons why Roberts did what he did and hopefully we will figure it out some day soon. And…I am praying there aren’t enough stupid people voting in November to re-elect Obama.

  10. I am one of those small business people who have been fighting for survival since mid-2009 when people started pulling back because the future looked so murky. It has gotten worse in the last few months. What my customers have been saying is that they aren’t going to make much of a move until they find out if Obama is going to be gone.

    I can’t afford health insurance. Had to cancel my insurance back in 2009 because I just can’t afford it. I will be one of those who will choose to pay the tax rather than buy the insurance. It is a lot cheaper.

    Honestly, we don’t have one customer who will be voting for BO this time around. Not sure if that is what others are hearing, but that is what we are hearing.

    Get rid of BO, and they will start spending again. Until then, they are just hunkering down.

  11. Hogwash. If Roberts had not declared it a tax it would have been unconstitutional under the commerce law. Calling it a tax moved it out from under the commerce clause. You simply cannot have it both ways. It is either a tax or it falls under the commerce law and is unconstitutional. The IRS collects it. And if it’s a tax it can be repealed with 51%. If it wasn’t important, Roberts would not have left it as a mandate and not a tax under the anti injunction clause. In short, John Roberts, the Chief Justice, did not do his job of upholding the constitution. Because it is messy we just can’t ignore it. We ignore enough bad acts and bad actors as it is in this country. We ignore lawlessness. Clever semantics and hyper politics can’t cover the fact that this country is drinking the kool aid.

  12. Apologies for the double dip, but here’s what Thomas Sowell , without rancor, says about Roberts’ decision “But what does the Bill of Rights seek to protect the ordinary citizen from? The government! To defer to those who expand government power beyond its constitutional limits is to betray those whose freedom depends on the Bill of Rights.” Sowell’s opinion speaks to the real importance of Roberts’ decision and the impact of Obamacare here — http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2012/07/04/judicial_betrayal

  13. That’s exactly that. Technically we have rights protected by the government, but they can violate them anyway, by taxation. You can bear arms, but you’ll pay a tax to do it. You can have free speech, but you will pay a tax to do it. There’s no limit to the government, and now no liberty.

  14. It’s not just “a campaign talking point,” it’s the NAIL in their political coffin! It didn’t start as a tax, but that is what it ended up as according to the new law! We also know is really is, but it is what it is now – we must use it to our full advantage. What sounds worse to the unknowing, a tax or penalty? What word do politicians run away from during an election year? What did 0bama promise not to raise? Get your head out of your pants and put it back on your shoulders, Keith! This is a tax now and it will forever be a tax if we don’t elect Romney. 0bama said it wasn’t, his lawyers argued it was, the SCOTUS agreed with his lawyers. It’s a tax! A TAX! Continue arguing it’s not a tax while this regime implements the tax. Good plan guy! Now what principles are left for you to stand on as the country burns around us?

    One last thing. 53% of the country pay an income tax. That means 47% drink the water we carry. Do you think that 47% will be contributing to this so-called penalty or do you think they will fall under the protection of not paying it as a tax because of income level, disability, or whatever exemption they have for not paying taxes? Would a so-called penalty encompass ALL to pay it, where a tax would not?

  15. Suppose the Republicans put a bill on the floor agreeing with Barry and his minions, and clearly stating that the Individual Mandate is NOT a tax, merely a penalty on free loaders. Do you think the Senate would vote against something that Barry agrees with and obviously wants?

    If they vote for it, they’re on the record saying it’s NOT a tax… which makes the mandate unconstitutional, right?

    Do you think the Democrats are stupid enough to fall for this?

    Nah. I don’t either.

    Dear Lord, election day can’t come soon enough.

    • Brilliant idea. Unfortunately, I believe the House GOP leadership are either too clueless or too corrupt to even consider it.

  16. “Read My Lips – No New Taxes” !!!!!!!!

    Democrats are running away from this countries biggest tax hike in American history:

    1. http://weaselzippers.us/2012/06/29/video-axeldouche-still-wont-call-individual-mandate-a-tax-after-scotus-ruling/

    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzs3aoRnl0E

    3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL7ak__MGyw

    4. Barack Obama evoking Jesus to sell us the more taxes while we are “broke”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCr7bP5pZ6I

    5. 20 New higher taxes that American citizens will “enjoy” now that Obamacare is constitutional:
    http://sweetness-light.com/archive/obama-care-contains-20-new-or-higher-taxes

  17. The Virginia State Trooper, or agent of the State, handed you a Bill of Exchange, as defined in Blacks Law Dictionary, which states “is a written order from A to B directing B to pay C.” These are the ABC’s they never taught us in school. But lets examine this scenario a little closer.

    Why should B pay anything to C, especially since C already owes money to B, is in fact, heavily in debt to B, since C has been borrowing money at interest from a central bank, instead of printing its own money, using B as the collateral, to run C’s business.

    In fact, C has been violating its own business charter and bylaws for some time under Article 1, Section 10, by failing to make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts. C is further violating its charter by impairing the Obligation of Contracts, under the same provision.

    In order for a contract to be valid, it must meet three criteria. 1, agreement between the affected parties, 2, full disclosure of the facts, and 3, valuable consideration. C has nullified its own charter by forcing B to contract. Its basic contract law, which is exactly why it was brought in as a tax, since the central banks tell the president what to do, not congress. Do you think its any coincidence that the only two presidents shot in the forehead were also the only two presidents that “tried” to issue US Notes into circulation, “trying” to get rid of the Federal Reserve Post It Notes.

    Lastly, how is it that A or C has jurisdiction over B in the first place, unless B is doing business with C, ie in a contract with C, or performing a function of C. Otherwise, B is doing business in private, under B’s own charter and bylaws, and not in public, like C, and therefore exempt from C’s jurisdiction, unless of course, B injures someone or causes damage to someone’s private property. But in your case, A is claiming B injured C, an artificial entity, and B must pay for the injury to the artificial entity, who has in fact suffered nothing.

    The key word here is jurisdiction. The SCOTUS must have debated this word more than any other if you were listening closely. Government (C) only has jurisdiction over its business, or agents (A), not our business (B). The State of Virginia, and every other State, is well aware of this little known detail, but is more than happy to collect from you if you do not Stand and dismantle the State’s presumption. The easiest way to do this is for B to request C provide evidence of a contract or a copy of a payroll stub to B, indicating B is in a contract with C, or performing a function of C, and must have been paid, because B doesn’t work for free. The single best thing C does for B, is keep a record of everything. Thanks C!

    Another thing worth noting here is the use of the word ACT. Do yourself a favor and read the definition of this word in Blacks Law Dictionary, then read Person, Citizen and Understand.

    I suppose I could have stated this more simply and just said, C is penalizing B for not doing anything. So how much should B penalize C for not doing anything either? Let the court case filing begin.