-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School, has a different perspective on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Professor Balkin argues that the individual mandate is a tax and the Constitution gives Congress the power to tax and spend money to promote the general welfare.
This necessarily and properly avoids the Commerce Clause.
While Congress and President Obama may not want to use the word “tax” for political purposes, for constitutional purposes, the Supreme Court has held that if a law raises revenues, it’s a tax. Americans have a choice, buy health insurance or pay a tax. The IRS has been charged with collection of the tax.
Like any tax law, this one has
loopholes exemptions. People are exempt from paying the tax if they have health insurance through their employers, are on Medicare, are poor, are dependents, are in the military, live overseas, or it they have religious objections. The tax promotes the general welfare by making health services available and affordable.
Nor is the individual mandate a “direct tax“, such as property tax, or a capitation (“head tax”). The individual mandate is not a tax on the general population but only on those who don’t buy insurance and are otherwise not exempt. The individual mandate is a tax on behavior.
An interactive assessment of Judge Vinson’s decision can be found here.