Robert Knight
When is a tax not a tax?

Answer: When you’re busy pushing a major expansion of government like Obamacare. The tax that is not a tax becomes a “penalty” or a “shared responsibility payment” in the text of the bill.

That’s what the Democrats told us when they rammed ObamaCare down America’s throat. In a famous clip you can find on YouTube, President Obama adamantly denies to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the individual mandate is in fact a “tax.”

As soon as it hit the courts, however, the tax that is not a tax morphed back into a tax as Mr. Obama’s attorneys justified it through Congress’s Article I power to tax and spend. The White House, which lambasted opponents for calling the mandate a “tax,” argued in court that the mandate’s enforcement under “Assessment” and “Collection” are right out of the code for the Internal Revenue Service, which will collect the tax, er, penalty, er, uh, tax. Yeah, that’s it.

Keep in mind that the individual mandate is only one of 20 new or higher taxes that Obamacare imposes on American families. Without the mandate, all parties agreed, Obamacare and those tax hikes would go down. People would avoid buying insurance until they get sick, and the system would collapse.

Thursday’s jaw-dropping, 193-page decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts sounds good at first but ends like a bad novel. By a 5-4 margin, the Court upheld the largest tax hike in American history and a massive power grab imposed through trickery, lies, smears, bribes and class warfare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid even managed to step on Christmas. Of course, none of this is germane to whether the bill is constitutional. I just like reminding people of how it went down.

The ruling did curb the reach of the Commerce Clause, the phrase that has empowered several generations of power-hungry liberals, and that part must taste like sour milk in their otherwise happy smoothie.

In his opinion , Roberts wrote that:

“Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do.”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.