Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley noted today that Chief Justice John Roberts’ tax idea in the Obamacare decision contains no “limiting principle.” He gave as an example that the Supreme Court now has said that while Congress may not be able to require people to buy a cell phone under the Commerce Clause, it may “tax” people who do not.
This is the first time I can think of when an inactivity is taxed — which is the exact same argument that was applied to the mandate itself.
In fact, Roberts’ argument that Congress may apply a tax even if it can’t issue a mandate under the Commerce Clause is really sophistry. A “mandate” is enforced in some fashion. The only realistic enforcement is a financial penalty (or a “tax”), since we aren’t going to shoot, imprison, or banish people for non-compliance.
This is a shocking precedent and expansion of Congressional power. Some people think it will help Romney in the election, but that is chicken feed compared to the long term impact of this ruling.
As for the policy angle: The legislation will cause chaos in health care. All the interest groups will be going down and will be looking for a lifeline.