Politics & Policy

Obamacare Is Not Constitutional

The American people can correct the Supreme Court’s mistake.

Political observers have described the 2010 Tea Party wave as an extraordinary assemblage of liberty-minded Americans who rallied around the Constitution in order to reclaim their country. One of the galvanizing forces was the passage of Obamacare — the national government’s takeover of our health care. Millions of Americans were enraged by this and other aspects of the Obama administration’s destructive political agenda, and they were sick and tired of their representatives’ failure to do anything to stop it. The 2010 wave election was a direct consequence of Obama’s unconstitutional ideals and czar-like power. And now, with the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare, it is my belief that the American people will be motivated to reorder our political priorities as they did in 2010.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate in a 5–4 decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts. The Supreme Court wrongly concluded that Obamacare can stand. But just because a majority of the Supreme Court declares something to be “constitutional” does not make it so. Millions of Americans simply won’t accept it and will act to help overhaul it.

Make no mistake: Obamacare is not constitutional. As a consequence of the Court’s ruling, Americans, whether they want it or not, will be compelled to purchase a product — health insurance — or pay a penalty.

The majority held that this penalty, for constitutional purposes, is also a tax. The dissenting justices concluded that the majority, by its actions today, rewrote what Congress actually intended when it enacted the law: “For all these reasons, to say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it. Judicial tax-writing is particularly troubling.” The dissent then immediately cites the Stamp Act of 1765.

The Stamp Act was a direct tax imposed on the colonies by King George III. This act inevitably led to the American Revolution. Just as the Stamp Act did in 1765, Obamacare should act as a wake-up call. Chief Justice Roberts provides us with a similar call to action in his opinion, which states:

Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.

Obamacare exists because Obama is in the White House. This decision is a direct consequence of the American people’s political decisions. And much like Obama himself, Obamacare was deceptively sold to the American people.

In 2009, President Obama firmly stated that the individual mandate was not a tax. Here are his exact words: “For us [the government] to say that you [the American people] must take personal responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.” After the ruling, Nancy Pelosi was asked if these reforms were a tax. Her response: “Call it what you will — it is a step forward for American families.”

Obamacare has caused up to 20 million Americans to lose their health-insurance policies. And, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health-care-reform law will destroy 800,000 jobs. An analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation from November 2009 shows that in 2016, three-quarters of the tax imposed by the individual mandate will fall on those making less than $120,000 of income for a family of four or $59,000 for an individual. Families of four making $72,000 or less and individuals making $35,400 or less will bear nearly half of the mandate tax.

This is a direct tax on the middle class. It is clear that through its proposed $500 billion in tax increases, the $500 billion in Medicare cuts, and the individual mandates and regulations, Obamacare will swiftly harm our country.

It is erroneous for Leader Pelosi to even attempt to claim that Obamacare is a step forward for Americans. The administration sold the bill to the American people under false pretenses, and now the middle class will suffer.

Although the Supreme Court declared that the individual mandate should be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s taxing power, there was a minor victory for the Commerce Clause in that the Court did hold that the individual mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. This minor victory is not much of a comfort, however, because this ruling essentially grants the federal government the right to legally tax our every breath. And tax they will.

Today the Supreme Court — the ruling body that our Founding Fathers created to protect citizens from tyranny — decided to uphold Obamacare and thus stripped Americans of their personal liberties and freedoms. We have heard the Court’s opinion loud and clear, but now it’s time for them to hear us. It is up to us to reclaim our constitutional rights. It is up to the American people to end President Obama’s political agenda. Obamacare is wrong for Americans and it will destroy our health-care system. This now means that we must fight every hour, every day until November to elect a new president and a new Senate to repeal Obamacare.

— Rand Paul represents Kentucky in the U.S. Senate.

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