Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chief Justice John Roberts and the Freeloader Tax

It is often said, "be careful what you wish for because it might come true."

Republicans seem to be elated that even though Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare,) he declared it a "tax."  Republicans are happy to run against this new "tax'" but "be careful what you wish for."

Roberts wrote the Obamacare opinion for a divided court, and ended up siding with the four liberal justices in holding that although the individual mandate did not pass muster under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, it fell within Congress' power to "tax and spend."

This is not a win for the Republicans for a number of reasons.

The mental gymnastics in differentiating Obamacare from Romneycare will make your head spin

Whether GOP Presidential candidate admits it or not,  Obamacare is Romneycare on a national level. And, the original mandate idea came from the Republican think tank The Heritage Foundation as a Republican alternative to the universal health care proposal of President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, affectionately known as Hillarycare.

Even the Romney camp is having trouble determining whether the mandate is a tax or a penalty. Romney spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom appeared on cable news to declare that the mandate of Obamacare is a penalty and not a tax, only to be contradicted by Romney himself.

Freeloader Tax

Roberts may have given the Democrats an early Christmas present by ruling that the mandate falls under Congress' ""Tax and Spend" powers -- hence, making it a tax.

Who exactly will pay this new tax?  Freeloaders.

Right now if you do not have insurance and end up in one of the many overcrowded hospital emergency rooms, you will be billed for medical services.  If you can't pay it, the hospital eats the cost and passes it on to those who have health insurance.  In other words, those with insurance pay higher premiums to pay for all of those "freeloaders" who don't.

The only penalty for the freeloaders now is a damaged credit rating and possible bankruptcy.  In either case, the bill doesn't get paid, and insurance rates continue to rise.

If the Democrats can stay on message and continue to call the "tax" or "penalty" a Freeloader Tax, that message should resonate with voters who abhor the "freeriders" on welfare.  Remember, the penalty will only effect those who can afford health insurance but fail to purchase it under the mandate.

For the Republicans, a party that prides itself on personal responsibility, why aren't they jumping on this?

Bill Clinton made a political career out of co-opting Republican ideas (ending welfare as we know it, balancing the federal budget.) Perhaps Obama and the Democrats can do the same with pushing a tax on the Freeloaders.

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