What’s the Limit on Congress’s Power to Tax?
The Supreme Court on Thursday introduced lawmakers to a new Obamacare.
The justices held that Congress does not have the power under the Commerce Clause to force you to buy health insurance, even though that’s what lawmakers and the President thought they were doing when they passed the law. Instead, the Court held that Congress may and did impose a mandate as part of its taxing power, even though that’s what policymakers insisted they weren’t doing.
That could put an entirely different spin on the mandate since, to put it mildly, taxes have been a big deal in American history.
The American Revolution began as a tax revolt. The issue wasn’t the amount of the taxes; it was the process by which they were levied. Specifically, the colonists objected to “taxation without representation”—Parliament levied taxes without the consent of representatives in the colonists’ local legislatures.
When drafting the Constitution, the Framers sought to rectify this issue. They gave Congress the power to levy indirect taxes and direct taxes.