Thursday, April 8, 2010

Healthcare Reform and the Impending Lawsuit

If you’ve been following my blogs on the whole healthcare reform process, you’ve probably noticed that I am in favor of change. You may (or may not) have noticed that I am not really in favor of some of the changes made by the bill law that was enacted last month. However, there’s now something new to add to the story, which I’m still not really a fan of: The lawsuit being brought against the federal government on the behalf of (now) nearly 20 states.

While I don’t like the bill as a whole, it does do some good here and there. I think it has it’s shortcomings, but we don’t live in a perfect world, and I know not everyone thinks like me, so it is what it is. Unfortunately, this lawsuit (no links to this, there are so many articles out there – plus many frequent updates – that I’ll just let you Google the stuff yourself) is based on the fact that the passed legislation is unconstitutional, as it violates the states’ rights to their own sovereignty. Some of the suit’s proponents are also trying to make the point that the government is trying to change what it means to be a U.S. citizen by requiring the purchase of something as a condition of being a citizen, which they say is without precedent.

At no other time in our history has Congress passed legislation that required us to purchase a product or face punishment for not doing so.” –Peter D. Kinder, Lieutenant Governor, Missouri (Rep)

This bill is an unprecedented overreach by Congress and the President, forcing Americans for the first time ever to buy something as the price of citizenship…” –Mike Cox, Attorney General, Michigan (Rep)

Has nobody ever heard of paying taxes??? Since when has an everyday citizen (aside from some special circumstances), not had to pay some basic form of taxes, in the form of income, sales, or some other kind of tax? If you pay taxes as a citizen, you are paying for something, be it schools, public safety, or any number of other things. And guess what, Mr. Kinder? If you don’t pay taxes (i.e. if you don’t buy some things as part of being a citizen), you face punishment. This is not a new concept, nor is it unconstitutional, lest the taxes we pay also be deemed as much.

Sure I don’t agree with the bill, but this claim of unconstitutionalism is completely misguided. For example, how do you think the court battles are to be paid for? There are some private funds going to support this action (see the link for Lt. Gov. Kinder above), but much will come from taxes. Do these guys really think taxes come from some magical wonderland? More to the point, their very paychecks are funded from the coffers of the public.

I don’t know what the root cause for this sensationalism is - perhaps, the fame/spotlight that comes with heading the charge, perhaps overzealous opposition to the president/the democratic party/reform of any kind – but it’s time to come back down to Earth now. There are more logical and more feasible methods to have the law overturned, and there are better things to do with taxpayer money, especially given the financial hurt many states are already in.

2 comments:

  1. I understand your arguement and agree that to a point the lawsuits feel frivolous. They feel like a power play that say, "I am taking a stand against the President," more than actually taking a stand against the legislation.

    That said, and only addressing the aspect of taxes being a "cost" of being a US citizen, I see a difference. If I work and earn more than a certain amount (varies by situation), then I must pay taxes. If I choose to purchase an item that is sales-tax applicable, I need to pay taxes. If I choose to own land, I pay property taxes. All of these taxes are conditional, albeit with conditions that will be met by anyone wishing to live even a modest standard of living. There are plenty of people that live in Washington state (no state income tax) near the Oregon border and buy products in Oregon (no sales tax) to avoid two of these taxes.

    Requiring someone to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty that may be enforcable through income tax return deduction is equivalent to taxing life. Granted, more accurately it compares to taxing life in the U.S. allowing someone to leave to U.S. to alleviate themselves of this "tax". Essentially it is different in that it is a "tax" on "being" and not "being and doing", as other taxes are based.

    Now the arguement of that the bill is uconstitutional....with as large as it is, there is no way all the contents of it are unconstitutional. But if some section truly is unconstitutional, does or should that make the entire document unconstitutional?

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  2. That's a reasonable point, anon, and one I hadn't quite thought of. Specifically looking at income/Medicare tax however, this is what my point was directed at. Though income tax does not affect all Americans, isn't this also effectively 'taxing life' as you put it? You have the option to now own land and therefore not pay property taxes, but if you want to survive, you need to work and therefore (legally) pay income tax. The income tax is essentially unavoidable, as this new healthcare thing is.

    As far as the scope of the unconstitutional claim, I feel that if a small subsection is in violation, then it is only the small subsection that should be reviewed. Unfortunately, those pushing the lawsuit don't want any of it and are using this as an excuse to cover the whole bill.

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