Once ubiquitous, the tie is now frequently being shunned. Whether you’re a presidential candidate, a successful entrepreneur, a cable pundit or a young rebel bucking the Establishment, the open neck look is in style these days. For those who say it is a sign of society’s downward spiral that so many are shunning “appropriate business attire,” the Supreme Court may have the answer: a tax.
By now, we are all well aware that the federal government cannot use the Commerce Clause or Necessary and Proper Clause of our beloved constitution to compel us to wear ties, but they apparently have the power to tax us if we do not!
Sure, it may be a bit cumbersome. Presumably, a panel of unelected bureaucrats would decide which careers require ties and those that do not. Women would likely be exempt, though that would raise 14th Amendment concerns. Speaking of the Constitution, let’s look at one snippet from Chief Justice Robert’s opinion:
“Under that theory, the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance. Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earn¬ing income. And if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, it may be within Congress’s constitutional power to tax.”
Now, just replace “certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance” with “certain taxpayers who do not wear ties.” As National Public Radio would say, you now have the Supreme Court’s “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”
Of course, the possibility of such an absurd tax moving through the system is unlikely; in fact, it is far more likely Congress will find a way to exercise fiscal restraint by cutting spending. Of course, given last week’s jet fume-induced boondoggle, fiscal responsibility is not regularly on display in Washington.
Two bills were particularly horrifying.
First, a massive omnibus-style bill that reauthorized highway and transit programs, extended subsidized student loan interest rates and reauthorized federal flood insurance. Although each deserved separate consideration, the bills were merged together and rushed through on a Friday afternoon, just hours after lawmakers received a Congressional Budget Office report on the cost of the package.
The House waived the rules to make is all happen, but why the rush? According to a senior Republican lawmaker the rush was because “99.9 percent” of lawmakers “want to go home Friday.” Or maybe it was rushed because if the American people knew the bill contained an $18 billion bailout of the Highway Trust Fund, they would be up in arms.
Second, an appropriations bill for transportation, housing, and urban development inexplicably increased spending on some programs above last year’s level or above the President’s request. Numerous amendments to reduce funding – some by as little as $5 million – were rejected by bipartisan majorities. For a nation approaching $16 trillion in debt, there is no excuse for such actions.
What is so unfortunate about these debt-inducing bipartisan votes is that they only serve to blur the distinctions – where they exist – between the two parties. Regardless of how the Supreme Court rationalized upholding Obamacare, the fact that it did uphold the law provided a moment of clarity for the American people and the political parties that claim to represent them.
Heritage Action’s CEO Michael Needham put it perfectly, saying: “Although the Court failed to provide a much-needed check on federal power, we have every bit of confidence the American people and their elected representatives will. Indeed, since the debate began in August 2009, Americans have vocally opposed President Obama’s approach to health care, which remains unaffordable and irresponsible.”
The news that presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney raised over $4 million in the decision’s aftermath is a strong signal that Americans believe Obamacare can and must be corrected through the political and legislative process. Equally important, voters now have clarity as to who will fix the problem. And make no mistake, clarity is energizing.
America cannot afford a dispirited conservative movement that looks to Washington with a sense of hopelessness. The lack of clarity, not the lack of a tie, is the real sign of America’s downward spiral.