You probably aren’t going to sit down and read the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act. Why would you, when we’re doing it for you? You won’t be surprised to learn that much of the ruling is tinder-dry.
But a portion on the "is the mandate a tax" argument caught our eye.
In its discussion of whether mandated insurance purchases are a tax (constitutional) or a penalty (not), the Court notes: “In the License Tax Cases … we held that federal licenses to sell liquor and lottery tickets … could be sustained as exercises of the taxing power.”
The Court also cites New York v. United States, in which the Court ruled a surcharge on out-of-state shipments of nuclear waste constituted a tax.
So: On the one hand, the individual mandate tax is like a tax that raises the price of booze. On the other hand, the individual mandate is like a tax on people who truck nuclear waste.
We feel conflicted about this.