President Obama's Health Care Soliloquy
April 02, 2012
A tax or not a tax, that is the question.
Would it have been nobler for middle-class citizens to openly suffer the slings and arrows of new taxation, necessitated by my federal overhaul of America's health care system, or better that we disguise our new taxes as "penalties and mandates" instead?
Health Debate is Making Me Sick
Only a naif would think that a 2,700-page law would not require new taxes to pay for it!
But the middle class does not understand what is best for them. And so we were forced to conceal and contort many complexities that would only frighten them and weaken their favor!
To get my health care bill passed by Congress two years ago -- to win support from fence-sitting politicians -- we had to avoid all mention of taxes on the middle class. We had to use the term "penalty" to conceal these taxes.
One way to create revenue without calling it a tax was to create an individual mandate. It would force able-bodied citizens who do not have health insurance to either buy it or pay a "penalty."
Paying for the Uninsured
Twenty-six states and the National Federation of Independent Business have challenged our law's individual mandate. They say it is not a tax, but a federal mandate that far exceeds the limited and enumerated powers of Congress under the Constitution.
Regrettably, their challenge made it all the way to the Supreme Court. We had to reverse course. We had to proclaim to all that our individual mandate, and its associated penalties, is really just a tax!
Had we created a tax in the beginning, rather than an individual mandate, the seas would be smooth, the skies without clouds -- and we would not have found our solicitors standing before the highest court in the land.
Why? Because the Supreme Court agrees that the government is allowed, under the Constitution, to create a national health insurance program. We already have Medicare and Medicaid.
How we tried to convince the justices that our individual mandate is indeed a tax -- that our individual mandate is a necessary requirement unique to health care, since everyone will need health care sooner or later. How we tried to convince them it is therefore constitutional!
But the conservative justices did not bite. They said that if the federal government can make private individuals buy health insurance, what can't it make them buy? Broccoli? Cellphones?
The writing appears to be on the wall. The Supreme Court may cut, with a bare bodkin, my entire plan, the crown jewel of my presidency!
My woe is great, my heart heavy.
A health plan, a health plan, my kingdom for a health plan!
©2012 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, a freelance writer is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
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