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Hillary Taxes Breathing By: Jon N. Hall
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, March 04, 2008

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 health-care plan 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 of dollars? 

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 Protection Clause. 

Whether on business or the individual, a government mandate is a tax, pure and simple.

Jon Hall is a mainframe programmer/analyst from Kansas City.

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