It’s a no-brainer:
The IRS’s Lois Lerner, who bungled taking the Fifth the last time she appeared before Congress, is now set to return to Congress. Her lawyer has announced, however, that she’ll testify only in return for immunity, otherwise her lips are sealed.
It seems to me that whether Congress takes her up on that offer depends on how much information she has. If she’s a criminal pipsqueak, giving her immunity means she gets away with a crime, while offering nothing in return. However, since she is a highly placed IRS functionary, if the agrees to sing like a birdie, it may well be worth it simply to get information on everyone else. Having said that, I suspect that there are people in government who will not be thrilled if she talks. Am I being overwrought if I think that she might actually find herself at risk if her testimony has the potential to send high government officials to jail?
I deeply disrespect the Obama administration, from the top down, but it’s a big step from disliking them to considering them capable of turning to violence or even murder. It seems to me that Lerner, who knows the administration better than I do, assumes that they will not hurt her, or else she wouldn’t have made the offer. Even if the whole administration doesn’t go rogue, though, there may still be some lone fruit-loop out there who will stop at nothing to avoid jail or just the end of a career. If I were Lerner, I’d look very carefully before crossing any streets.
What’s your take on this? Would you offer her immunity in exchange for information?
A few days ago, I commented about a profound problem with the Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA: before DOMA, we had a societal consensus that marriage was between one man and one woman. During DOMA, we had a law that said marriage was between one man and one woman, even as the societal consensus broke down. Post-DOMA, we have nothing. There are no boundaries, and there is nothing to stop a “loving” marriage based upon bestiality, incest, pedophilia, polyamory, etc. The boundaries are gone.
In addition, the demands on government will change substantially with this “new frontier” approach to marriage. A friend of mine who knows all things military sent me this email:
The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how recent Supreme Court decisions have rendered marriage and family meaningless. For instance, if I were a young private or PFC in the military I would find another guy to get married to (contract marriages between service members are nothing new. It’s a great way for two otherwise unattached people to get free money for being married). Getting married is often the best way for service members to get themselves out of crappy barracks life so I could marry a male service member from another unit and move into my new house. We would not even have to be gay to do it. Then we could run around with as many women as we wanted and essentially be room mates and get paid a basic housing allowance (x2) for being married. If I were caught in some kind of adultery situation (hard to prove usually) I would simply state that I and my life partner are straight and though we are married we do not sleep together. Further, who is to judge how we choose to run our family/household? Anything goes according to the Supreme Court and if two gay men can get married why can’t two straight ones?
So that’s two of us figuring out that Anthony Kennedy’s decision creates tremendous societal problems. Can we add three of us or four of us? Yes, we can!
I don’t want to tread upon copyrights, so let me just direct you to Michael Ramirez’s post-DOMA cartoon and Terminal Lance’s post-DOMA cartoon (warning: ever so slightly risque). They both make the point perfectly, one with regard to society at large and the other with special focus on the military.
Andrew Klavan is right that we need to view this as a Democrat “squirrel” moment, one in which the Democrat powers that be distract their sometimes mindless constituents from more important issues such as the economy, or the fact that Syria is imploding, Egypt is on the verge of imploding, and Turkey is working towards imploding. However, we cannot ignore the legal ramifications flowing from the Supreme Court’s rulings, because these ramifications can become very expensive very quickly.
If nothing else, the end of DOMA is one more reason that the tax code and IRS should be done away with and a flat tax instituted. After all, the current tax code gives married couples distinct benefits, with an eye to advancing a stable, two-parent family. Since that’s now out the window, we better revisit where all those tax benefits are flowing.
I’ve written before that the IRS’s aggression towards conservative groups and individuals is the worst presidential scandal in American history because it represents the first time a government agency, which falls under the executive’s control, has used its vast power to target people and groups that oppose the administration’s agenda. Before the IRS started doing this, taxes had to come through a legislative process which was, in theory, vox populi. Legislators were at least somewhat sensitive to voter concerns — they can, after all, get kicked out of office. Administrative agencies with a partisan agenda feel that they’re untouchable and nothing can stop them.
Earl has now alerted me to the fact that the California legislature, which is so overwhelmingly Democrat as to make California a one-party state, has decided to copy the IRS’s behavior and use taxes to destroy political opponents:
What the IRS was doing behind closed doors may soon be official policy in California. Last week, the State Senate voted to revoke the nonprofit status of any group within the state that does not allow full participation of homosexuals, a move aimed directly at the Boy Scouts of America. According to the Associated Press, the bill “would require those organizations to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues, camp fees and other sources of income, and to obtain sellers permits and pay sales taxes on food, beverages and homemade items sold at fundraisers.” Groups that sponsor troops would also have their tax returns and membership policies scrutinized by the Franchise Tax Board, California’s version of the IRS.
If further proof was needed that the BSA’s partial surrender on the homosexual issue only emboldened their opponents, here it is. Compromise is not in the left’s vocabulary. Not until Dan Savage is taking your son camping will they be happy, and probably not even then.
Read the rest here.
It used to be that, if the Boy Scouts (or any other private organization) wouldn’t have you, you’d start your own organization and it would be so successful people would be knocking down your door and the Boy Scouts (or whatever) would be copying your model. Or perhaps you’d start your own organization and it would fail, because the Boy Scouts (or whatever) actually had a good idea and were doing things right.
Nowadays, you don’t take your marbles and go play with other, more friendly people. Instead, you stand there and kick the other side’s marbles all over the place and, if a few remain, you stomp them into dust. My way or the highway — and I don’t care if my way destroys your essential essence, so long as you bow down before me.
A little more than a week ago, no one had heard of Lois Lerner. Now she is the poster child for government machinery run amok. She first thrust herself into our awareness with her clumsily staged revelation that, “Oh, by the way, the IRS persecuted conservatives, but really, there’s nothing to worry about….” Since then, it’s only gotten worse, with Lois being exposed as a serial liar. Finally, today, she announced in advance that, if called before Congress, she would plead the Fifth, so please don’t embarrass her by calling her. I say “Call away” and, so far, Committee Head Issa agrees.
Now that Lois has emblazoned herself as a household name, people are starting to look at her very closely. It turns out that her hostility towards conservatives predates her tenure at the IRS, and goes back to her FEC days. She may have failed math, but she gets an “A” in harassment.
Conservatives are doing the logical thing, which is to try to link her to Obama. As Walter Olson at Overlawyered points out, however, the only linkage currently available is truly a link bridge to far — it’s so tenuous as to be silly.
One of my friends, who does not want to be known as a conspiracy theorist (and I can vouch that this friend wouldn’t be seen near a tin-foil hat), wondered if Lois’ anti-conservative propensities put her in an orbit other than the Obama’s. My friend sent me this email, and assures me, as I assure you, that it’s idle speculation rather than a breaking story:
Listening to Michael Savage the other day, he brought up the intriguing questions about the IRS scandal: “Why now?” and “Who leaked it?”
One caller raised the possible theory that Hillary Clinton was behind it trying to deflect Benghazi criticism that was beginning to zoom in on her, to an Obama-centric scandal.
I was intrigued. Here is what a quick Google search has taught me so far:
- The official who brought up the scandal is Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS Exempt Organizations unit
- Lois Lerner husband, is Michael R. Miles, a partner at the law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan.
- I saw some articles linking Sutherland Asbill & Brennan to hosting an Obama campaign event, but…
- What has not been reported is that in 1993 Bill Clinton appointed Hillary’s good friend, Margaret “Peggy” Richardon, as IRS Commissioner (http://www.nytimes.com/1993/
- This is where it gets a bit interesting. Peggy Richardson was also a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. (Oddly enough, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan had one other partner as IRS Commissioner – Randolph Thrower, appointed by Nixon…).
- Peggy Richardson, is (allegedly) no stranger to quashing inconvenient investigations against the Clintons (http://www.judicialwatch.org/
blog/2006/01/hillary-silent- clinton-presidencys-latest- cover/)
- This is where it turns highly speculative. I could not find, in the limited time I searched, a link between Peggy Richardson and Lois Lerner or her husband. But one would think that partners in the same very illustrious law firm would know each other and would know a lot about each other.
- This is all capped by the just breaking news that Lois Lerner is going to take the Fifth in her (http://www.washingtonpost.
com/blogs/post-politics/wp/ 2013/05/21/irs-official-lois- lerner-to-plead-the-fifth/) and choose not to testify before the House Oversight Committee.
Conspiracy theories or not my favorites, but when it comes to the Clintons I am less reluctant to explore them.
No answers, but some awfully good questions.
I also have a little (a very little) of my own information to add. Since my brain instantly shuts down even at the word “taxes,” I have no idea if I’ve found smoking guns or death rays of irrelevant boredom. Nevertheless, here are my two contributions to the Lois Lerner saga:
Item The First is a transcript of the prepared remarks Lois Lerner gave in April 12 at Georgetown University Law School. It makes no sense to me (tax stuff, you know), but some of you may be able to glean some pearls of wisdom.
Item The Second is a lawyer’s analysis of a question-and-answer period with Lerner at the ABA’s Tax Section meeting in September 2012. The lawyer who asked the questions posted the transcript on his firm’s website, along with his interlineations. Again, I would be delighted if the tax savvy amongst you could translate it into normal people talk. (Incidentally, I came across that transcript at the website for The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch website. The Center for Media and Democracy is, as you may know, a very Left activist organization, fat with George Soros funds.)
JKB was worried that he’d hijacked an earlier thread by introducing us to Australian Topher Field’s “Forbidden” histories. JKB needn’t have worried. I’ve become an overnight Topher Field’s fan.
I’m including here Topher’s Forbidden History of Terrible Taxes. You should watch his other “Forbidden” video as well, which is about free speech. As far as I can tell, he’s also working on a video about the dangers of bureaucracy, which he funded using crowd sourcing.
My mother lives in a very nice retirement community. Typically for an affluent suburb, the residents are rich and white, while the employees are low-income and represent a variety of races (white, Asian, black, and Hispanic). They’re not downtrodden employees. Many have been there for decades and have strong bonds with the elderly in their care. But they’re definitely not middle or upper class. Economically, they’re working or lower class.
Here’s another broad statement I can make about the community in which my mother lives: Almost none of the affluent residents smoke cigarettes, while a high percentage of the poorer employees smoke. I know that my statement about the employees is true because I’m there often and I always see a rotating crop of employees hunkered down in the garage or standing out on the streets smoking.
I have to admit here to hating cigarettes. (And yes, I know that “hate” is a very strong word.) I have an unusually sensitive sense of smell, and cigarettes are very high on my list of unpleasant odors. Just to give you an idea how much I hate the smell, back in the early 1980s, when I’d return to my flat in England after a night of dancing (not drinking, just dancing), I was so repulsed by the cigarette smell that clung to me that I’d instantly take a shower. This doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize that I was doing this between November and March, when the flat had no hot water after 10 p.m., and the shower water was probably just above freezing. I hate cold water, but I hate the smell of cigarettes even more.
My loathing for cigarettes means that I’ve always had two thoughts when I’ve seen the employees puffing away. My first thought is, “God, I hate that smell.” My second thought, always, is “They must be spending a huge percentage of their income to support that habit.”
Today, my thoughts went one step further. Yes, they are spending a huge percent of their income, but they’re not actually spending it on the cigarette. Instead, they’re spending it on the taxes for that cigarette. Here in California, cigarettes are taxed at a very high rate:
Cigarettes are subject to both the cigarette tax and the cigarette and tobacco products surtax. The tax and surtax are paid by distributors through the use of tax stamps, which are purchased from the Board of Equalization (BOE) and affixed to each package of cigarettes before distribution. The cost of the stamp includes both the cigarette tax and the surtax. Currently, each stamp costs 87 cents per pack of 20 cigarettes, comprising 12 cents for the cigarette tax and 75 cents for the combined surtax.
Tobacco products, not including cigarettes, are subject only to the cigarette and tobacco products surtax. Tobacco products include all forms of cigars, smoking tobacco, chewing tobacco, and snuff, as well as other products containing at least 50 percent tobacco. Effective July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, the rate is 31.73 percent.
I don’t know whether the consumer has to pay the usual county sales tax on top of all those state taxes, but I assume he (or she) does. If that assumption is correct, you can add on an additional 8% or so to every cigarette pack sold in California, depending on the sales tax rate.
This is a staggeringly high tax rate. Worse than that, it’s a hugely regressive tax rate, meaning that it falls most heavily on those who can least afford it. The regression is hidden, because it looks as if everyone who purchases cigarettes, rich or poor, pays the same “sin” tax for the product. In fact, though, rich people in California have mostly given up on smoking. This particular sin tax is passing them right by. Poor people, whether they smoke because of peer pressure to smoke, or because they’re immune to government pressure to quit smoking, or because it’s a real pleasure in a life too financially constrained to have many pleasures, end up paying that tax. Worse, because the government relies on this sin tax to fund health programs and education, as people quit, they keep raising the tax to stabilize revenue.
I hate cigarettes. What I hate even more, though, is a government that funds itself by using regressive taxes. It’s a sleazy practice. How much better, of course, if we would fall back on a non-religious version of tithing, as Dr. Carson so gracefully suggested in the speech he gave before a manifestly bored and uncomfortable President Obama.
Today’s big story the new tax bill that Obama jetted off to Hawaii before signing, but that will soon (and inevitably) become the law of the land. I don’t see any surprises. I knew that we’d get hit hard and so we have.
I gather that sequestration has now been averted, so that Obama gets to continue spending. As the headlines say, $1 in spending cuts for every $41 in tax increases.
The media and the blogs are playing this as a major Republican loss. Although I’m not sure it is, I actually rejoice in these headlines. They sting, but they may have a benefit in the long term.
In my simplistic financial view of the world, there is one given that transcends any fancy economic talk from Ivory Towers and Leftist back rooms: you cannot indefinitely spend more than you take in. This is true whether you’re a person or a nation. You can certainly spend more than you have for a while. Indeed, if you’re rich (as America once was) you can keep spending money you don’t have for a long time. You can borrow from friends who haven’t quite figured out yet that you’re broke. And you can check kite — that is, you can use one empty account to pay off another empty account. Essentially, you keep the same money floating around between accounts for a while until one of the banks or creditors figures out that you’re simply juggling a few dollars around and hoping that no one catches on that your accounts are usually empty. And that’s all you can do.
Obama ran for, and won, re-election on a promise that he could fix our problems by taxing “rich” people more, while continuing to spend as before. The voters bought it.
Another way to think of Obama’s promise, and the voter’s credulity, is to imagine that America is a corporation, with shareholders and various officers. Obama is the CEO. Because the CEO and his fellow officers have been spending corporate money like crazy without realizing a profit, the corporation is broke. It’s worth noting that some of that spending involved distributions to select shareholders — those holding the fewest corporate stocks.
When the shareholders were considering making a push to fire the CEO, the CEO kept his job by telling the shareholders that he’d hire some armed robbers (i.e., the IRS) to force some of the richest shareholders to buy more shares in this essentially bankrupt company. He made no promises about reducing corporate spending or trying different approaches to dealing with corporate debt. The shareholders, none of whom could imagine himself (or herself) as being “the richest,” thought it was a great idea to have the “other shareholders” forced to subsidize the corporate spending binge. Those most enthusiastic were the ones who, despite holding the fewest shares, had been getting stock distributions on a regular basis.
Once his job was assured, the CEO used his renewed power to do exactly what he promised: he brought in armed robbers to forcibly remove money from the “rich” shareholders without changing his management style, including his spending habits. The only thing that surprised some of the shareholders was to discover that the CEO numbered them amongst the rich.
In other words, Americans — the shareholders in this nation — just got exactly what Obama promised and they voted for: more taxing, more spending.
The question, then, is whether yesterday’s vote to increase taxes is a major Republican loss. Certainly, the Republican party is in chaos — but it was anyway. After the election, the Republican party was a demoralized, writhing, screaming, finger-pointing mass of loser-dom.
Given the Republicans’ already pathetic posture, is what happened yesterday even worse for the Republicans? I don’t think so. I think that, with the mid-term elections coming, this clarifies things for voters. It doesn’t just clarify Republican and/or conservative principles, it also clarifies just who holds those principles.
More than that, the new taxes and spending clarify responsibility for America’s economy. Obama got exactly what he wanted and he thinks that he’s laughing all the way to the bank. Except when he gets to the bank, he’ll discover it’s still empty. Within a few months, he’ll be thinking of that adage “be careful what you wish for; you might get it.”
Things are certainly going to be bad, very bad, for America in the short term. But with a true compromise, of the type Boehner was trying to craft (proving either his good faith or his stupidity), things would have been very bad for America in the slightly longer term. Short of a revolutionary change to America’s spending habits, which wasn’t going to happen with a compromise, America was always screwed. Now, at least the Republicans can say “we tried to stop this, but Obama had a stronger political hand in the wake of the elections, so we were forced to give him what he wanted. This is now, for real and for true, the Obama economy.”
The one thing to remember is that Republicans had better start selling this Obama-economy message hard and fast now, while Obama and his media minions are still gloating about his victory over the GOP. Once things go sour, as they inevitably will, Obama and the media will start blaming the Republicans. We know that, where the media leads, the masses follow. The only way to stop the sheeple is to drill home now the message that this is Obama’s victory, that Obama got what he’d promised and what he wanted, and that Obama joyfully accepts the responsibility for whatever flows from his glorious battle defeating the Republicans.
Remember: Nothing, absolutely nothing, that came out of Congress today could have been good for America. However, if Republicans willingly hand Obama this victory, the greatest likelihood is that it proves to be a Pyrrhic victory for Obama, with long-term benefits for conservative thinking and, therefore, for America.
(Alternatively, Obama could have been right all along, which will be good for America, and I’ll have to revert to my original Democrat allegiance. Possible, but not probable. Facts are stubborn things and so are numbers, and I’m betting that Leftist political ideology will not trump either facts or numbers.)
What do you think?
I am coming to the conclusion that it’s really hard to sell such an important message in just 25 seconds.
The movie said “if you build it, they will come it.” More and more California businesses say, “if you tax it, we will go“:
Comcast announced Tuesday that it would shutter three Northern California call centers and consolidate them into other western U.S. centers in a few months, a move that will affect as many as 1,000 jobs.
Operations at the cable company’s call centers in Livermore, Morgan Hill and Sacramento will be shifted to centers in Oregon, Washington and Colorado at the end of November, Comcast said.
The company’s announcement of the consolidation cited the “the high cost of doing business in California” as the impetus for the decision.
If you haven’t already, please buy yourself a copy of my friend Laer’s book, Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America. It will explain everything you need to know about Comcast’s decision.
Well, Romney nicely pulled the rug out from under the Progressives/Democrats when he released all of his tax information. This is a relief to me, because I was getting sick and tired of seeing my liberal Facebook friends repeat ad nauseum nasty statements about those missing (per Harry Reid, “unpaid”) taxes. Turns out that, not only did Romney pay taxes, he paid lots and lots of taxes. His effective rate was more than 20%, and that doesn’t even take into account the fact that all of these dollars were capital gains, meaning that they’d already run through the government tax mill once. In addition, he gave almost 30% of his money to charity.
Harry Reid slipped further into dementia by denying that any of this was possible: “He’s hiding something. He’s hiding something! It is so evident he’s hiding something!”
I’d like to say to Reid, “Stay classy, Harry,” but it’s unkind to issue instructions like that to crazy people.
Now that Romney’s financial information is out there, I know that my Facebook friends are going to start criticizing what’s in the documents. Thankfully, Yid with Lid prepared a handy-dandy list about the information. Chock-full-o facts, including facts about Obama, Reid, Biden, Pelosi, and Debbie Whatser-her-name-shmatta, it will give me all the snappy come-backs I need to reorient those silly people away from the dark side and back to the real world.
I was driving along in the car and, suddenly, the phrase “Roe v. Wade” popped into my head. In 1973, the Supreme Court waded into what should have been a state-by-state legislative matter, and created the most vicious 39 year fight in America since the Civil War. One side found the decision completely invalid, while the other side became so invested in its validity that it almost became a one-issue party — and, moreover, a one-issue party that became ever more extreme in its defense of its victory. By parsing the decision as he did, Justice Roberts prevented another American civil war.
When I returned home and turned on my computer, I discovered that Charles Krauthammer was thinking along the same lines. If I’m in sync with Krauthammer, I’m clearly in good company.
Krauthammer’s view is that Roberts wears two hats. The first hat is the constitutional conservative, which kicked in to prevent him from allowing a vast expansion of the Commerce Clause. The second hat is as the Supreme Court’s custodian. That second hat requires Roberts to protect a Court that’s been under a shadow since the decisions in Roe v. Wade (favoring the Dems) and Bush v. Gore (favor the Republicans). So, after wearing his conservative hat to deal with the Commerce Clause, Roberts still had some work left to do:
That’s Roberts, philosophical conservative. But he lives in uneasy coexistence with Roberts, custodian of the Court, acutely aware that the judiciary’s arrogation of power has eroded the esteem in which it was once held. Most of this arrogation occurred under the liberal Warren and Burger Courts, most egregiously with Roe v. Wade, which willfully struck down the duly passed abortion laws of 46 states. The result has been four decades of popular protest and resistance to an act of judicial arrogance that, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “deferred stable settlement of the issue” by the normal electoral/legislative process.
More recently, however, few decisions have occasioned more bitterness and rancor than Bush v. Gore, a 5–4 decision split along ideological lines. It was seen by many (principally, of course, on the left) as a political act disguised as jurisprudence and designed to alter the course of the single most consequential political act of a democracy — the election of a president.
Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the Court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with Obamacare. Hence his straining in his Obamacare ruling to avoid a similar result — a 5–4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political.
National health care has been a liberal dream for a hundred years. It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. Roberts’s concern was that the Court do everything it could to avoid being seen, rightly or wrongly, as high-handedly overturning sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.
I think Krauthammer’s analysis is correct. Roberts didn’t rule as he did because of his seizure medicine or because he was blackmailed. He ruled this way because, perhaps rightly, he was keeping a legislative problem in the legislative sphere. The American voters, by putting Democrats into Congress and the White House, broke the American system. They now own that broken system and it’s up to them to fix it. In this case, if the voters are smart enough, they’ll elect Republicans by a large majority. If they’re not smart enough, we’re in for a lot more breakage.
Viewed this way, Roberts did the right thing. He protected the Supreme Court’s integrity and he made the American people responsible for their own stupidity.
The best bet for the coming months is that Obama’s base will go home happy, and that he will not be able to rally them for the election. They’ll be like the person who ate too much at dinner and sits there in a stupor, even as the roof falls on his head. Unfortunately for Obama, Romney will be able to rally his base. If you thought 2010 was the year of the Tea Party, wait until you see the summer of 2012. Like 2012, Tea Partiers are up in arms; and unlike (and better than) 2012, this time they’re already organized with mailing lists, data bases, and vast amounts of political and protest experience.
Even better, after Americans suffered through months of the drug-addled, filthy, violent Occupy movement, the media is going to find it impossible to paint clean, polite, educated, employed Tea Partiers as crazed radicals. This summer, the Tea Party will have traction, especially because the Supreme Court, in ruling in Obama’s favor, put a name on Obama’s conduct: taxes on the middle class.
That’s all good. What’s bad is that, as I noted in my original post on the subject, the Supreme Court has managed to allow taxes to have the scope of the Commerce Clause: From this day forward, Congress can not only tax activity, it can also tax inactivity. Long after Obama is gone from office, that legacy will remain. The only saving grace is that taxes require simple majorities. Easy come, easy go, one might say — except that taxes never go away easy, do they?
The Supreme Court opinion on ObamaCare runs to 193 pages. It is the size of a book, only more boring than any book anyone would ever want to read — and that is true despite the fact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the worst writer on the court, didn’t write it. I’ve been making a valiant effort to read it, but because I have other things to do with my life, I abandoned the darn thing about one-third of the way through. For now, bottom line is sufficient. Per the Supreme Court, ObamaCare imposes a tax on people who refuse to buy a product from a third-party. An example of that includes the Affordable Care Act which forces a penalty on those who do not take part in the newly-appointed health insurance marketplaces. That imposition is consistent with Congress’s power to impose taxes.
Ed Morrissey managed to encapsulate my immediate reaction to this, frankly, bizarre outcome:
It’s an interesting argument, but one that should have Americans worried. Basically, this is a tax that you have to pay to private companies. For all of the screaming the Right did over single-payer — and for good, outcome-based reasons — at least the money paid by taxpayers would go directly to government [see update II]. The Supreme Court has signed off on what is, in very practical terms, a tax levied by the insurance industry on Americans simply for existing. It’s an amazing, and fearsome, decision that really should have both Right and Left horrified.
Nevertheless, this is the law of the land. We can now look forward to taxes levied by the auto industry for not having bought a new car in the last seven years, the liquor industry for buying too few bottles of wine to maintain your health, and by the agricultural industry for not buying that damned broccoli after all. We might even have Obama attempt to impose a tax for not buying enough contraception; we can call that the Trojan tax.
Taxes have traditionally been levied to enable the government to buy and build things. This is the first time in history, so far as I know, that a tax is being levied as a penalty against citizens who refuse to buy products from private vendors. Taxes normally tax activity. Sure, you pay taxes on a product when you buy a product but those are (a) state taxes, which are a different animal from federal taxes; and (b) taxes on a voluntary transaction. That’s the important thing. The transaction is voluntary. You can opt to sit it out and the government cannot reach you. Here, though, we are being told that the government can exact an onerous tax for inactivity.
The decision constitutes a radical redefinition of what constitutes a tax. It is exactly what opponents said it was: the biggest tax in history and one, moreover, that Americans cannot alter their behavior to avoid. I am therefore at a loss to figure out why Roberts signed on to this decision, let alone authored it. It is a staggering constriction on individual freedom. The closest analogy to this tax is the poll tax of 1380, a tax that saw one of the biggest revolts in medieval British history and one that almost toppled the monarchy. Poll taxes are flat taxes but, more importantly, they tax someone just for being.
Okay, that’s the bad news and it’s very bad in the long-term. There are some potential short-term benefits, although they’re only possible, not probable:
Because ObamaCare is a tax, it’s easy to repeal the tax aspects, which leaves the whole thing unfunded. Still, unfunded doesn’t mean vanished. All the bits and pieces, the obligations, impositions, panels, etc., live on, unless Congress can gather itself together and formally repeal the whole darn thing.
The other short-term benefit is that it might galvanize those Americans who hate ObamaCare, leading them to vote for Romney. That’s so not a sure thing, though. It’s a great victory for Obama, and might finally put the wind at his back. His signature legislation is a good thing, said the United States Supreme Court. For many Americans, that might fall into the category of “that’s all she wrote.” The fat lady has sung. The opera is over. It’s time to go back home and get on with your life. If Roberts had some strange idea that he’d help a Romney election, he was taking a mighty big gamble with the American people, their freedom, and their money. (Speaking of money, it’s no coincidence that the market plummeted once it received word that Congress not only can tax anything that moves, it can tax anything that doesn’t move.)
I am disheartened, but disheartened is not the same as defeated. It is now imperative that Republicans take back Congress in its entirety and win the White House. Jim Carville and others may proclaim the Tea Party dead, but I suspect they’ll see a Zombie Tea Party taking to the streets this summer.
The Volokh Conspiracy (was Roberts somehow forced to uphold the law?)
Jay Cost (this may harm Obama more than he thinks in the long run)
Slate (Obama wins battle; Roberts wins war)
DQ raise very important points about the power of language. The examples of “austerity” and “stimulus” certainly need to be addressed. But, let me address another problematic term: “government spending”. Far too many people seem to equate government spending (syn. taxes, benefits, welfare, rebates, investments, stimuli, grants, outlays, funding, etc.) with “free” money.
All these terms that reference government spending also generate warm fuzzies with large portions of the population that cannot or will not equate such activities with government expropriation of the labor, sweat, money and intellectual capital of “other” people without their express permission.
Thus, I would like to propose a new word, “opuem”, an acronym for “Other People’s Unfairly Expropriated Money”.
It’s a far more efficient use of language to distill so many different terms into a single, comprehensive concept and thereby change the nature of public discourse in very positive, enlightening ways, as for example:
“The Democrat Congress, with the support of the President, voted to drastically increase opuem for dispersal to favored but potentially restless constituencies in order to keep them quiet, loyal and dependent. The Republican opposition voiced its concerns that there is far too much demand for opuem by society today, and that excessive opuem dependency will prove detrimental to economic productivity and societal well-being.”
This term, opuem, should not to be confused with a similar term, “hopium”, conceived by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass as a descriptor for current White House emanations.
Students, not normally a personally wealthy group, are all for redistributing other people’s money. Apparently, though, they draw the line at redistributing the fruits of their own labors:
The next step is to get the students to listen to Jon Lovitz’s F-Bomb laden rant and understand that, whether we’re talking grades or money, it is always wrong for a coercive government to force people to part with the rewards they earned:
We all recognize that people must contribute some sum towards a functional society, for roads, national security, etc. But that is quite different from having your elected government suddenly decide to play at Robin Hood.