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ObamaCare and taxation without representation

Not everyone can say they‚??ve been officially certified by the United States Supreme Court as a liar, but Barack Obama loves to point out how ‚??historic‚?Ě his presidency is.

The Court today declared that ObamaCare‚??s ‚??individual mandate‚?Ě is a tax, but Barack Obama consistently and repeatedly said it was not a tax.¬† Here‚??s a clip of his most famous denial, delivered to George Stephanopolous of ABC News in September 2009:

Note that Obama does not merely deny that ObamaCare is a tax.¬† He ridicules the idea, and suggests that anyone who says it‚??s a tax is engaged in sophistry.¬† He compares ObamaCare to the concept of purchasing auto insurance, and says ‚??nobody considers that a tax increase.‚?̬† Further, he accuses anyone who disagrees with him to be ‚??making up language.‚?Ě

Ed Henry of Fox News noticed today that White House website still, as of 3:00 PM Eastern time on Thursday afternoon, includes a blog post that reads as follows: ‚??First, the health insurance reform bill being considered in the Senate does not raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 – in fact it is a substantial net tax cut for American families.¬†The bill being considered represents a substantial¬†net tax cut¬†for middle income families. According to the independent Joint Committee on Taxation, the bill will provide nearly $450 billion in individual income tax cuts over the next 10 years.‚?Ě ¬†(Emphasis in the original.)

The title of this official White House blog post is ‚??The Truth on Health Care Reform and Taxes.‚?̬† Another little nugget of truth to be gleaned from this post is that one specific component of ObamaCare was explicitly acknowledged to be a tax: the special excise tax levied on high-cost health plans, also known as the ‚??Cadillac tax.‚?̬† Clearly, the architects of ObamaCare knew perfectly well that the concept might include some taxes ‚?? and they were emphatic that the individual mandate, in contrast, was not a tax.

The White House even portrayed ObamaCare as neutralizing a ‚??hidden tax,‚?Ě citing the long-discredited fable that cost-shifting to cover the uninsured was a secret tax of $1,000 apiece on ‚??the millions of Americans who get insurance through their job or buy it on their own.‚?Ě

If you haven‚??t been following the health care debate closely, you should know that is not true, and it never was.¬† The $1,000 figure was based on a non-peer-reviewed study from a single liberal advocacy group called FamiliesUSA.¬† It ignored the fact that a good 75 percent of those costs are actually covered by ‚??charitable organizations and federal, state and local governments to reimburse doctors and hospitals for the cost of caring for the uninsured,‚?Ě as the Wall Street Journal noted in March 2011.

So, Team Obama was willing to stretch the concept of a ‚??tax‚?Ě pretty darned far‚?¶ and then adamantly maintain the individual mandate was not a tax.

On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama could not have been more clear about his promise not to raise taxes, in ‚??any form,‚?Ě on families making less than $250,000 per year:

It matters that Barack Obama lied about all this.¬† Whatever the other strengths and flaws of today‚??s Supreme Court decision, it has the practical effect of transforming ObamaCare into the very opposite of what it was presented as.¬† This is the ratification of fraud.

The Court should have restrained itself to the arguments made around, and within, the legislation itself, instead of rooting around in the Constitution to discover a justification for the ObamaCare power grab, replacing the individual mandate (which the Court did say was unconstitutional) with a tax, as if they were changing the batteries in a dead flashlight.¬† The people of the United States, and their representatives, were deceived about the nature of this bill ‚?? not just the huge blank-check unwritten segments, but even the parts that were written down.¬† Of course it wouldn‚??t have passed if it had been presented as a gigantic tax increase; many of the Democrats who were cajoled into voting for it, through back-room deals, would have run for the hills.

Americans can vote to inflict a great many foolish ideas upon themselves.¬† They even have a lawful mechanism for altering the Constitution.¬† But we have laws against commercial fraud because they are a form of unlawful coercion.¬† The Supreme Court‚??s decision on ObamaCare reveals it to be an even worse act of coercion than we thought, because it was passed on false pretenses, and now it has been substantially altered without a vote by our elected representatives.

In other words, the phrase for freedom-loving Americans to meditate upon tonight is one that was very familiar to our Founding Fathers: taxation without representation.

Update:¬†Not only did Obama insist that the mandate was not a tax, his Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, made a point of insisting it was not a tax during arguments before the Supreme Court. ¬†At one point, Justice Samuel Alito mocked him for it: “‚??General Verrilli, today you are arguing that the penalty is not a tax. Tomorrow you are going to be back and you will be arguing that the penalty is a tax.”

Later, Verrilli slipped up and called the mandate a tax, which led Justice Stephen Breyer to get big laughs by asking, “Why do you keep saying ‘tax’?”

A contemporaneous Fox News report noted that “The justices, particularly the four Democratic-appointees, and Justice Antonin Scalia, appeared skeptical that the fine constitutes a tax.”

But whaddya know? ¬†It turned out to be a tax after all, even though Obama’s chief legal representative absolutely refused to make that argument! ¬†The last laugh was on America, I guess.

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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