We heard it on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday from Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA). He made it very clear to his fellow members that the vote to repeal ObamaCare was a “vote to stop the IRS.”
That proclamation was true for two reasons. First, the IRS was given authority to enforce ObamaCare’s individual mandate and the collect the fines imposed on Americans who don’t purchase health insurance coverage. The IRS has also far exceed its statutory authority by imposing fines on businesses that don’t offer coverage to employees in states that rejected the insurance exchanges. Those points by themselves are concerning enough.
The second point is that the IRS official who oversaw the office that dealt with tax-exempt organizations during the time the agency was discriminating against Tea Party groups is now leading the office responsible for ObamaCare:
Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.
Last year, the Supreme Court issued a decision that was devastating to ObamaCare’s opponents. In a ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the High Court decided that the individual mandate, the very heart of the law, was constitutional under the taxing authority of Congress.
Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution — known as the Origination Clause — says, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” Therein lies the rub. The Affordable Care Act — also known as ObamaCare — originated in the Senate, which is unconstitutional.
With the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation, Matt Sissel, an Iraq War veteran, is challenging the constitutonality of ObamaCare on this basis. Over at the American Spectator, David Catron gives some details abut the case:
Let’s recap for a moment. In 2010, Congress passed ObamaCare, a law that imposes a litany of mandates, including a requirement on every American to purchase health insurance coverage, and some 20,000 pages of regulations. Despite promises to the contrary, Americans are now seeing their premiums go up and many are facing either changes to their coverage or losing it entirely; as was predicted by opponents of ObamaCare before it was ever passed.
But now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) working on a deal that would exempt themselves, other members of Congress and their staffers from the law:
Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.
The talks — which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers — are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. Discussions have stretched out for months, sources said.
A source close to the talks says: “Everyone has to hold hands on this and jump, or nothing is going to get done.”
Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Ezra Klein has a post arguing that ObamaCare is unpopular because the public doesn’t understand it. It would be more accurate to say that ObamaCare is popular with people like Klein because they don’t understand it.
Klein notes an apparent negative correlation between the popularity of certain provisions of the law and public awareness of those provisions. If only more people knew about the good stuff in ObamaCare – you know, the subsidies to seniors and the provisions forcing insurers to cover the sick – more people would like it. But the polls showing public support for those provisions don’t ask respondents whether they think the benefits of those provisions are worth the costs. They only ask about the benefits. Since none of those provisions is a benefits-only proposition, those polls tell us essentially nothing.
For example, last year a Reason-Rupe survey asked respondents about laws forcing insurers to cover the sick. What made this poll interesting is that it was the first poll in 18 years to ask respondents to weigh the costs of such laws against the benefits. The below graph (from my latest Cato paper, “50 Vetoes”) displays the results.
During the debate over his health care reform proposal, President Barack Obama and his apologists in Congress insisted that it would hold down insurance premiums for American families. But despite these promises, Jonathan Gruber, the architect of the plan, acknowledged that insurance premiums would still rise under ObamaCare.
So it comes as no surprise to see read an IRS report released last week showing that the cheapest health insurance plan under ObamaCare will cost a family $20,000 in 2016:
In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.
The IRS’s assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan.
The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan.
“The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000,” the regulation says.
While the individual mandate is supposed to ensure that Americans purchase health insurance coverage, a nearly $1,700 per month premium is going to be too much for many families to afford. CNS News notes that the failure to purchase health insurance coverage would result in a $2,085 penalty per family (or 2.5% of taxable income) in 2016.
In retrospect, we probably should have seen it coming. After Roberts’ first term, Jeffrey Rosen interviewed the new Chief Justice and wrote a long piece in The Atlantic analyzing his motivations.
Roberts’ stated focus was not his commitment to originalism or his oath to the Constitution, but pulling the Court to the middle to convey unanimity:
“A justice is not like a law professor, who might say, ‘This is my theory … and this is what I’m going to be faithful to and consistent with,’ and in twenty years will look back and say, ‘I had a consistent theory of the First Amendment as applied to a particular area,’” he explained. Instead of nine justices moving in nine separate directions, Roberts said, “it would be good to have a commitment on the part of the Court to acting as a Court, rather than being more concerned about the consistency and coherency of an individual judicial record.”
“You do have to [help people] appreciate, from their own point of view, having the Court acquire more legitimacy, credibility; [show them] that they will benefit, from the shared commitment to unanimity, in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise,” he said. Roberts added that in some ways he considered his situation—overseeing a Court that is evenly divided on important issues—to be ideal. “You do need some fluidity in the middle, [if you are going] to develop a commitment to a different way of deciding things.” In other words, on a divided Court where neither camp can be confident that it will win in the most controversial cases, both sides have an incentive to work toward unanimity, to achieve a kind of bilateral disarmament.
Many opponents of ObamaCare believed that the battle was lost after the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the heart of the law — the individual mandate — this summer and after President Obama won re-election last week.
While these events all but ensure that the law will go into effect as planned, the Supreme Court’s decision did give states the ability to fight back against ObamaCare by allowing them to opt-out of the health insurance exchanges, which would cost millions for each state to implement and give the federal government control over picking and choosing what plans could be sold.
Today is the deadline for states to tell the federal government where or not they’re going to participate in the exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid, which is even more costly to taxpayers. Of course, this deadline is meaningless. As Michael Cannon recently explained it “is no more real than the ‘deadlines’ for implementing REAL ID, which have been pushed back repeatedly since 2008.”
Before the Supreme Court ruling, Cannon explained why the exchanges are a terrible idea and how states can limit the impact of the law by refusing to participate and how it could be good for states because it will make the cost of doing business cheaper:
The 2012 presidential campaign isn’t even over yet, but that hasn’t stopped Vice President Joe Biden from putting together a campaign message for 2016. During a campaign stop yesterday in Florida, Biden talked Republican sibling of a supporter over the phone and made his pitch:
While he has previously hinted at a potential run, Biden smiled as he mentioned–perhaps jokingly–a White House run on the phone with a voter during a campaign stop at a Sarasota, Florida restaurant.
As he mingled with fans and supporters, one woman handed the vice president a cell phone at the event, urging Biden to speak with her brother, a Republican.
Biden took the phone, immediately saying: “I’ll tell ya what, you may be a Republican but I love ya.”
Wearing his trademark aviator sunglasses inside the restaurant, the former 36-year senator quickly got into a serious discussion with the relative about the health care law. A man standing nearby said, “I think he met his match,” referring to the detailed conversation.
After nearly two minutes on the call, Biden moved to end the conversation. “Look, I’m not trying to talk you into voting for me, I just wanted to say hi to you.”
“And after it’s all over, when your insurance rates go down,” he continued, “then you’ll vote for me in 2016. I’ll talk to you later.”
According to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office, there is yet another concerning development thanks to ObamaCare that will make 6 million uninsured Americans — double the previous estimate — subject to the tax penalities that come as part of the ObamaCare’s individual mandate:
About 6 million Americans would have to pay a penalty under President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul for failing to get insurance, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated.
The agency said it now expects about 50 percent more people to be subject to the tax than it had previously anticipated. That’s partly because the CBO said it foresees higher unemployment, which translates into more people without employer-sponsored coverage.
The overhaul requires most legal residents to have coverage beginning in 2014 or pay a penalty that would be $695 in 2016 or 2.5 percent of a household’s income, whichever is larger. Most people wouldn’t be subject to the tax because they already have coverage, such as through their job.
This number will almost certainly increase as more businesses are overcome by the costs of insurance mandates and requirements that come with the law. They’ll simply opt to pay a less-expensive fine instead of carrying coverage on their employees. Sure, some of them may find luck in the healthcare exchanges set up by states, but others may not be able to afford coverage; and they’ll be subject to IRS penalties for non-compliance.
As we’ve noted since the Supreme Court’s decision in the ObamaCare, the White House has refused to acknowledge that the individual mandate is a tax. They’ve called it a penalty, but admitting its a tax gets into another area of politics where Team Obama hadn’t wanted to go.
But while campaigning in Virginia this weekend, President Obama called the individual mandate a “tax,” indicating that they may finally be acknowleding the decision:
President Obama used the word “tax” to describe the health care mandate under his reforms, a departure from his prior etymological stance that it is a penalty.
“By the way, if you’ve got health insurance, you’re not getting hit by a tax,” the president said during his Friday rally in Roanoke, his third Virginia campaign event of the day. “The only thing that’s happening to you is that you now have more security because insurance companies can’t drop you when you get sick.”
And let’s keep in mind that the entire post-decision rhetoric was a ruse. The Obama Administration argued that the individual mandate was tax before the Supreme Court. For them, it’s only a tax when it’s convenient.