RE: Is The Mandate Really a Tax?

Just a quick response to Steve’s post.

One of the reasons the President and Democratic leaders in Congress went to such lengths to describe the Mandate as “not a tax” is because they thought the bill would never pass if they called it a tax. As I recall, many conservatives harped on this over and over again at the time, using the the-Mandate-is-really-a-tax-and-calling-it-a-mandate-don’t-change-that argument to try and defeat the bill. (Obama and Co. had so many chances to publicly deny that the Mandate is a tax precisely because conservatives were taking so many chances to hammer the bill on precisely this point.)

If Chief Justice Roberts is wrong, then weren’t all those conservative criticisms of Obamacare also wrong? And if Roberts is wrong, and the Mandate isn’t a tax just because Congress really doesn’t want it to be, then can’t Congress do all kinds of things simply by including statutory language that is little more than euphemism?

Whatever else Roberts said today he made it clear that euphemism is not Constitutionally decisive.

Obviously, there’s lot’s more to say, but, next to continued disappointment with the law itself, that’s my first thought.

Stephen P. White is a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC and coordinator of the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society. The views expressed here are his own.

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