In an astonishing example of irrelevance, New York Magazine says that the Trump tax cuts are the least popular tax cut plan in history. After you stop laughing at that insight, we have some great news for you: The Trump tax cuts might have actually planted the seed that will ultimately unravel Obamacare once and for all. That wasn’t even the intent of the tax cut bill, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has come up with a strategy that is truly brilliant.
Despite everything that President Trump and other Republicans have said, they did not repeal the individual mandate of Obamacare. Not exactly. What they did was zero it out, so that no penalty will be collected from the millions of Americans who choose not to purchase one of the Obamacare junk plans. If nothing else changes, a future Democrat-led Congress (*shudder*) could come along and raise the mandate once again.
But here is where things get really interesting. If you remember the 2012 Supreme Court decision, Obamacare was declared “constitutional” because it was redefined in a 5-4 decision as a tax, entirely because of the individual mandate. Everyone was left scratching their heads and wondering if Obama had blackmail dirt on Chief Justice John Roberts. (Come to think of it, maybe he did, based on all of the illegal spying that Obama has had intelligence agencies carry out against his political enemies.)
The late Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the dissent, commented that the federal government now has the authority to force all Americans to buy broccoli based on the ruling. With Obamacare declared a tax, it was allowed to stand and become “the law of the land” as former failed House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) used to say.
So, how can Obamacare function as a tax if the amount of taxation is zero? That’s a great question and thankfully, Texas AG Ken Paxton and 19 other states have opened a new lawsuit in federal court over just that question. Their argument is that Obamacare does not fulfill its constitutional mandate to be a tax and therefore, the entire law should be scrapped.
The individual mandate was the key aspect in Chief Justice Roberts’ argument in NFIB v. Sebelius that Obamacare is constitutional (even though it violates the Commerce Clause). The mandate was the only justification for declaring Obamacare “legal” — otherwise the entire scheme falls apart.
The whole point of Obamacare was that Americans had to buy Obama’s cruddy health insurance plans or pay the penalty. If the penalty does not exist, the states are arguing that there is no other justification for the existence of Obamacare. And let’s face it, the Obamacare plans are almost the definition of worthless to begin with.
Premiums under the law have now outpaced housing costs in some states for the first time in history, which President Trump pointed out on the campaign trail. Deductibles are sky-high for plans that most Americans will never, ever use unless they have a catastrophic injury or illness. The 50 separate state-level “marketplace” monopolies ensure that prices for plans will continue to increase, while services are drastically cut. Americans who bother to purchase plans still have to put up with the frustration of paying for things they will never use, like abortion services for men and prostate cancer coverage for women.
A resolution for the case could come about much faster than normal in the court system. The states are asking the courts to end Obamacare on the grounds that it doesn’t fulfill its purpose as a tax. If a court awards a temporary injunction against Obamacare, until the case is resolved, the case will likely be rushed through the system to try to save it. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts may be forced to rule differently on Obamacare this time, when he is faced with his own legal reasoning.
One big question that remains is, how will the Trump administration and the Justice Department react to the suit? No one from the administration has commented yet, but given President Trump’s history of trashing Obamacare, it is likely that they will support the states in their pursuit of a repeal.
However, the administration and the Justice Department are required by law to “uphold the law,” even when it comes to bad laws like Obamacare. The so-called Affordable Care Act was always intended to be too complex to unravel. Here’s to hoping that a combination of the Trump tax cuts, along with the lawsuit from the 20 states, will do what Congress has failed to do: Repeal Obamacare.
~ American Liberty Report