When considering tax fairness,
we should ask: What exactly is a tax?
Government mandates businesses
to pay for their employee’s unemployment insurance, workman’s comp,
and other benefits. These payments burden business just as surely as
if the payments were made directly to the government—a tax by any
other name. And if businesses fail to comply with government mandates,
they can be dealt with in the same manner as any tax scofflaw.
Might onerous mandates on business,
especially manufacturing, be one of the reasons so many America enterprises
have relocated abroad?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
recently enacted a new “universal” health-care system, and it mandates
that all residents buy health insurance if not already covered. This
is known as the “individual mandate”. But not only does Taxachusetts
require its residents to buy health insurance for themselves, it taxes
those residents so that it can provide health insurance to those who
cannot afford it. A year ago California launched a plan to overhaul
its health-care system, and it too featured the “individual mandate”.
The states are supposed to
be laboratories where we see what public programs work. But rather than
wait to see if the new system in Massachusetts does indeed work and
can survive legal challenges, Senator Clinton
unveiled her new universal health-care plan,
and it too features the “individual mandate”.
Senator Clinton worries that
without the “individual mandate” some folks would be getting a “free
ride”. But Congress created the “free ride” when it mandated that
hospitals must treat the indigent uninsured, including illegal aliens.
So the “free ride” will go on.
Advocates of the “individual
mandate” say it is no different than states requiring car insurance.
But that’s a bad analogy: Driving is a privilege, not a right. Non-drivers,
such as the blind, aren’t required to buy car insurance. If drivers
can’t afford car insurance, the states certainly don’t buy it for
them. Also, some states allow drivers to opt out of car insurance if
they put up a surety bond or some form of self-insurance. Among its
highly touted plethora of choices, will the “new and improved” HillaryCare allow folks to self-insure? Will even
the richest folks be required to buy health insurance?
By contrast, Senator Obama's
does NOT feature an “individual mandate” on adults. Obama stresses
health-care affordability over universality. However, Obama’s plan does mandate
that all children be insured. Rather than the mystique of Camelot, one
would hope those who voted for Obama on Super Tuesday—which so happened
to be the majority of Democrats—were won over by his ideas.
In another ominous sign for
Mrs. Clinton, the aforementioned California health-care overhaul died in committee January 28—it was the model for
HillaryCare 2.0. A Wall Street Journal editorial 2 days later: “What the California
collapse should discredit in particular is the individual mandate as
a policy tool…in order to be enforceable, such a mandate inevitably
becomes a government mandate, and a very expensive one at that.”
Expensive? How can mandating
yet another assured stream of
revenue into the
health-care industry do anything BUT drive up health-care inflation?
What if the government mandated that everyday everyone buy a T-bone
steak? Do you suppose that would affect the price of beef-on-the-hoof?
I’m sure ranchers would love such a mandate.
Besides the questions of expense
and feasibility, the larger issue here is one of principle: The “individual
mandate” is nothing less than “socialism by proxy”.
In a recent Front Page interview, Regina Herzlinger, the “Godmother”
of consumer-driven health-care according to Money magazine, advocated
the “individual mandate”. In her consumer-driven system: “Everybody
would be required to buy health insurance.” Despite this, Professor
Herzlinger does have some very sound market-based
ideas, and she
favors Senator McCain’s health-care plan over Clinton’s and Obama’s.
With the ratification of the 24th Amendment in 1964, poll taxes became unconstitutional
in federal elections. And in Harper v. Virginia
Board of Elections,
the Supreme Court extended the ban on poll taxes to Virginia, citing
the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Poll taxes
became extinct in all state elections in 1966. But the “individual
mandate” is worse than a poll tax: It’s an “existence tax”.
It might as well be a tax on breathing.
Also, poll taxes were relatively
trivial: $2 for male voters in Massachusetts. Do you think you’ll
be able to find health insurance for 2 bucks? If a $2 tax on the exercise
of a basic right (voting) is unconstitutional, how much more unconstitutional
is a tax on an even more basic right (life) that runs to the thousands
The “individual mandate”
is profoundly un-American; it is a stench in the nostrils of any who
care about our First Principles. So one must wonder how the “individual
mandate” could ever stand up to a legal challenge based on the Equal
Whether on business or the
individual, a government mandate is a tax, pure and simple.