Saturday, June 30, 2012

Is Chief Justice Roberts Souter Redux?

“We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.” – President Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address, Tuesday, January 20, 1981

Is Chief Justice Roberts Souter Redux?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 30, 2012

In an 11th hour twist seen by most so-called experts and pundits as unexpected, the Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a. Obama Care, has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court. The individual mandate has been declared constitutional in a five to four decision authored by none other than Chief Justice John Roberts.

Roberts, a heretofore reliable conservative appointed by former President George W. Bush, wrote in his majority opinion, that while the individual mandate did not stand up to the constitutional smell test under either the Commerce Clause or the necessary and Proper Clause, it did however, pass muster as a tax.

Slice and dice it six ways from Sunday, this irresponsible decision by a feckless majority of the high court’s jurists, has given the federal government carte blanche to dictate medical decisions over the states and over the American people. Siding with Roberts are the usual liberal suspects: Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. The four dissenting justices were Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

With Roberts, there is the eerily similar turn a la former Justice David Souter, a 1990 appointment of President George H. W. Bush. Souter seen as a conservative became a reliable liberal jurist on the high court until his retirement in 2009. Will Roberts follow Souter as another Bush appointment to disappoint? Or will this landmark decision simply prove to be an aberration? Time will tell.

Regardless of how the individual mandate crossed the finish line, this is largely seen as a victory for the Obama administration. This has been his signature piece of legislation defining his term thus far. Largely seen, because the administration must now defend the largest tax increase in the history of the republic.

Yet, the so-called Affordable Health Care Act has been repeatedly defended by Obama saying, “This is absolutely not a tax increase.” His campaign mantra in 2008 had been that “taxes would not be raised by one thin dime.”

The federal government now has the constitutional authority to levy a tax on those people who chose not to purchase a health insurance policy. The American people can now be punished for opting not to buy something.

For adults with no coverage this translates into one percent of one’s income or $95 in 2014; two percent or $325 in 2015 and two and a half percent or $695 in 2016. Notice how the taxing penalties don’t take effect until after the 2012 presidential election? Wonder why? Wonder no more.

According to The Indianapolis Star “The IRS can’t prosecute violators or place liens against them; its only enforcement option may be withholding money from refunds.” (June 29, 2012; A-1)

Here’s a damn good suggestion folks: adjust your withholding by amending the W-4 form filed with employers. Have less money deducted from paychecks so there won’t be a refund coming to you the following April. This will do two positive things: put more money in your pockets every pay period and deny the federal government an interest free loan given them by overpaying your taxes. Sure, you may have to write a check to the IRS in April, but, better that than the possibility of the government stealing your refund because you choose not to purchase a product the government is forcing you to buy.

The Roberts’ Court decision on health care is precedent setting in that the federal government can now potentially mandate that we the people should be forced to buy a certain brand of vehicle that suits the administrations’ green agenda. Or perhaps a future Republican administration wishes to mandate that everyone must purchase a firearm to help keep police costs at bay.

Another disturbing aspect of the government seizure of health care is that it is about to hire an additional 16,000 IRS agents to enforce this legislation, proving that it is in fact, a tax. After all, the IRS is in the business of collecting taxes. This is more money spent, that we the people are funding, when the government is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Not only do a majority of the American people oppose Obama Care – the tax, but the medical profession is widely against it, many suggesting they will not be able to afford to keep their practices open. Costs will surely rise and fewer qualified doctors will remain in the profession.

Obama will need to defend this largest tax increase in American history in his campaign for reelection against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. How will he juxtapose his campaign rhetoric of 2008 imploring voters that anyone earning less than $250,000 would not see a tax increase with an acknowledgement from the Supreme Court that Obama’s victory is a tax? That figure then became $200,000.

In reality, Obama Care will institute more than a trillion dollars in new taxes – 75 percent of which to be paid by those earning less than $120,000 and 50 percent of that to be incurred by those brining home between $25,000 and $75,000.

This must not be allowed to stand. In order to generate a repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act, a simple majority in Congress is required in what is known as a reconciliation vote. That would necessitate a minimum of 218 votes to overturn a tax, a.k.a. a budget item. The Republicans must gain a majority in the Senate in order to support their Congressional brethren, should this come down to a partisan vote, which it almost guarantees to do.

This is an attack on the liberty of a free people whose freedoms are eroding partly due to the expediency of entitlements and partly due to a lack of knowledge of American History and the Constitution. If we do not save ourselves, who will?

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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