I have a problem with the recent decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the health care law passed in 2010. First, obviously health care needs to be reformed. And there were some good things to come out of the law that was passed. But as a whole, I don’t believe it is good policy, nor am I persuaded by the Supreme Court’s arguments.
The Supreme Court Ruling
First, the majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts stated that for the purposes of the Anti Injuction Act, the penalty for not obtaining health care (the individual mandate) was not considered a tax; rather, it’s a penalty imposed on those who do not comply. However, to uphold the constitutionality of the mandate, he stated that since it functioned as a tax, it fell under Congress’s power to tax. Excuse me? I mean, yes, he explained that since the AIA is a statute passed by Congress, by saying penalty in the health care law they clearly did not intend for it to be considered a tax as applied to the AIA. But those two statements together just sound ridiculous.
More importantly, however, the Supreme Court just told Congress they can tax us for anything. Literally. Generally taxes apply to activities that are actively participated in. Earning income, purchasing goods, etc. However, now you can be taxed simply by existing. And this could have problems down the road. What’s to stop Congress from taxing everyone that doesn’t belong to a gym? Exercise is clearly good for your health and could save the country millions if Americans were more active. Yes, other options exist to lead a healthy lifestyle (much as there are options to health insurance that don’t burden others–ever hear of health savings accounts or the Healthy Indiana Plan?), but joining a gym could be argued as the best way to provide this need for all Americans. After all, gyms offer a wide variety of equipment that allow members to cross train in a variety of cardio activities, offer special classes, and have weight-lifting equipment. Or, what about requiring us to shop at certain health food stores or purchase shares in Community Supported Agriculture co-ops? After all, Americans eat terribly and don’t get enough fruits/vegetables. This too would make us all healthier and create less burden on the health care system.
I’m not usually one to freak out about all the freedoms we’re losing and big government turning into big brother. I generally become suspicious anytime someone accuses a Democrat of being socialist, because they’re generally overreacting and trying to scare others with crazy rhetoric. But with this new decision by the Supreme Court, I’m left to wonder. The United States was built on the ideals of freedom: to make your own decisions about how you wanted to live your life.