The latest Supreme Court decisions on immigration and healthcare were hard to swallow. But looking at the bright side one key provision of the Arizona immigration law was upheld. Also, the fact that Obamacare is so unpopular and was upheld as a tax on the middle class, this could energize the right and Obama can no longer claim he only wants to tax the wealthy. ObamaCare is unpopular because it will increase our debt, increase taxes, and diminish healthcare quality.
Justice Scalia suggested that the States “got an offer they could not refuse” and they signed away their sovereignty when they signed onto to Medicaid in 1965 during oral arguments about ObamaCare. Scalia has a point, but the loss of state sovereignty under the bill of rights (10th amendment) came before 1965 and the latest Supreme Court decisions about immigration and healthcare reform officially reiterates state sovereign rights no longer exist. Two amendments drastically reduced the rights or sovereignty of states – the 14th (adopted in 1868) and 16th amendments (adopted in 1913). The 14th amendment gave the federal government power to rule on states’ due process laws. The 16th amendment gave Congress the right to impose an income tax. Once Congress had the right to levy an income tax, they had complete power over the states – this is when states officially signed their sovereign rights away. In 1965, the federal government did give the states an offer they could not refuse – take our help on Medicaid or get nothing. After all, it would have been economic and political suicide not to accept the money and instead double tax the citizens of states to help pay for health coverage for the disabled or needy within their states.
The 16th amendment has enabled the federal government to coerce states for nearly a century. The government created departments not enumerated in the federal powers of the Constitution including: Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Education (DOE), Department of Energy (Doe), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Transportation (DOT) – to name a few. The federal government collects tax money from the individuals of each state, and if the states want to recoup this money they have to adhere to federal government power grabs for universal control over healthcare, education, energy, agriculture, or transportation. For instance, the Department of Education created a new program called “The Race to the Top”. There was 4.3 billion dollars of state funding hidden in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the 862 billion dollar stimulus) for the Race to the Top. Even though The Race to the Top was not a law, the federal government coerced states to abide by their guidelines to get funding for this program. Some claim that this is not coercion because the states could just refuse the money – it is voluntary. But this is not going to happen, especially during a recession where states were already cash strapped and did not want to double tax its citizens. Besides, the government could have just as easily divided the money up evenly (population adjusted) amongst the states without any strings attached – they did not do this.
Let’s face facts; the introduction of the 16th amendment made the 10th amendment moot. Once the federal government got the states to agree to amend the constitution to allow the federal government to levy an income tax, they signed away their sovereignty. States are now at the mercy of the federal government. And what’s worse, the 16th amendment made this country more bureaucratic, less efficient, and more susceptible to fraud and waste. For example, the tax payers of Ohio send their tax dollars to the federal treasury which in turn, funnels the money to federal departments which in turn, funnels the money back to the states treasury which in turn, funnels the money into state departments. Things would operate much more smoothly if the states taxed their people and spent the money as they saw fit, and cut out the middle man – the federal government. This simply makes sense and is more logical because states and localities better understand their issues and problems than the federal government. To assume that education or Medicaid has the same variables in Los Angeles California as it does in Alamosa Colorado is just wrong. Some may argue that by having the federal government controlling laws and regulations for HHS, DOE, Doe, USDA, and DOT makes legislation more consistent and equally enforced amongst states. This is not even remotely true and is exactly why legislation is thousands of pages long, because bills are laced with pork, earmarks, and waivers influenced by lobbying which does the contrary, it makes laws inconsistently enforced not only amongst states, but among corporations and individuals. When Congressional Democrats cut tax incentives for only oil companies, but not tax incentives and funding for green companies – is this a fair law equally enforced amongst corporations?
The Supreme Court ruling that the ObamaCare mandate is constitutional because it is a tax only increases the power of the federal government through the 16th amendment. I feel upholding the mandate on taxing power grounds grants Congress even more expansive power than if it were upheld on Commerce Clause grounds. This decision allows the federal government to mandate American citizens buy a product or be taxed. This is a lot of power. What is stopping the government mandating that all citizens must have 100 yards of duct tape in their cars or in their homes or face a tax? It sounds ridiculous, but duct tape can be viewed as a necessary safety product that can used in first aid or to patch up any kind of dangerous leak temporarily. Can Congress mandate us to eat broccoli or face a fine? What is stopping Congress from bypassing the commerce clause by claiming the fine is a tax on any product or service? This decision makes little sense. On the other hand, some feel the rejection of the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause should be understood as a major blow to Congress's authority to pass social welfare laws. We’ll see, but the Obamacare decision is definitely another expansion of federal power.