#Obamacare chronicles: People refusing to pay the fine?

February 26, 2015
"Revenge of the angry mob"

“Revenge of the angry mob”

President Jefferson once famously said:

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

And maybe that “good thing” has started?

Taxpayers are already telling their accountants they plan to stiff the IRS on the Obamacare tax, saying they figure the chances the agency comes after them for a few hundred bucks are pretty slim, and it makes sense to take the risk.

Still other taxpayers are recoiling when they find out they owe far more than the $95 minimum penalty for not having insurance in 2014, said Christopher Wittich, an accountant in Minnesota.

“And that’s a big problem for them,” he said. “They don’t have 200 bucks.”

Taxpayers are facing the first round of penalties under Obamacare’s “individual mandate,” which requires most Americans to prove they have health insurance coverage or else pay the tax that the Supreme Court ruled made the law constitutional.

But Indiana accountant Scott Frick said one of his clients, told he would have to fork over $850 for going without insurance last year, thought about the IRS and decided not to pay, just to “see what happens.”

The episodes raise questions for the revenue agency, which is trying to figure out just how far it’s prepared to go to collect the Obamacare tax — and if future administrations will enforce it at all.

As I pointed out in another post, these people just finding out their 2014 penalty Shared Responsibility Payment may already owe for 2015. Surprise!

Also, I had forgotten that, as the article points out later on, the IRS is forbidden from laying criminal charges or liens against people who don’t pay the penalty. All they can do is lower their future refunds. You can bet there will be many people willing to pay that price, rather than shell out for the more expensive “affordable care” policies.

Regardless, this refusal to pay strikes me as a good thing, a sign that our spirit isn’t dead yet. I hope it catches on, and that everyone refuses to pay.

Somewhere, Mr. Jefferson smiles.

via Michael Walsh


Nullification: a bad idea

January 22, 2011

There’s an interesting post over at Hot Air by Howard Portnoy about the efforts of Idaho and a few other states to pass resolutions of nullification against ObamaCare. In other words, their state legislatures would pass resolutions declaring the “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” unconstitutional and thus null and void in their states:

The doctrine, known as nullification, has its roots in the brand of governance practiced by the nation’s founding fathers. It was used as early as 1799 by then-law professor Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in a response to federal laws passed amid an undeclared naval war against France that

  • “nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts … is the rightful remedy.”

As a legal theory, nullification is grounded in the assumption that states, and not the U.S. Supreme Court, are the ultimate arbiter in cases where Congress and the president have “run amok.”

In Idaho, use of the doctrine to invalidate the health care reform bill is being championed by both state Sen. Monty Pearce and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter speech, who recently told Idaho residents, “we are actively exploring all our options — including nullification.” Pearce plans to introduce a nullification bill in the state legislature early next week.

Constitutional theory fascinates me and, while I make no claim to be the intellectual equal of Thomas Jefferson (or James Madison, who also played a role in this), I couldn’t  resist leaving a comment explaining why I think they were wrong and why nullification is just flat-out a bad idea:

  • “The doctrine, known as nullification, has its roots in the brand of governance practiced by the nation’s founding fathers.”

Not all of them. While Jefferson and Madison were the authors of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolves in 1798 in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts. Not a single other state backed them. Beyond that, many states condemned them. For example, Rhode Island, which was suspicious of the new government under the Constitution and one of the last to ratify it, declared the resolves to be a danger and that only the federal courts could decide the constitutionality of a law. Almost literally, Virginia and Kentucky’s positions on interposition and nullification represented “extremist” constitutional theory.

To amplify this a bit, bear in mind that there were 16 states in the Union at that time. Fourteen of them refused to endorse the K-V Resolves. Every state from Maryland, north, condemned them. The people of that time were members of the founding generation. They may not have attended the Constitutional Convention itself, but many, many of them closely followed and participated in the post-convention debates over ratification through their local newspapers and in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. And 88% of them, through their state legislatures, refused to endorse interposition and nullification. Those people were all “present at the creation;” shouldn’t their refusal to go along tell us something?

To continue:

Beyond any argument about the history of nullification, the idea itself is hare-brained. To allow it would create a crazy-quilt of federal law that would turn the concept of national government and nationwide rule-of-law a joke.

And I’m not being facetious here. Creating an “opt-out provision” whereby some states can say the equivalent of “nuh-uh” is a recipe for chaos. One just has to look at the history of the enforcement of fugitive slave laws to see what mischief this would work. (And, no, I’m not endorsing those laws. But the refusal of some states to enforce them did contribute to the deteriorating political climate that preceded the Civil War.) Or, for a modern example, look at the controversies over the raft of exemptions to ObamaCare being granted to companies. Imagine if whole states could chuck whatever section of the United States Code annoyed them.

Finally:

We all agree that ObamaCare is bad medicine, but the proper way to deal with it it what’s being done right now: defeating its supporters in elections, dismantling it in Congress, and fighting it in federal court. And, if need be, calling an Article V amendments convention. But for Idaho and other states to revive the so-called “Principles of Ninety-eight” is a distraction and a dead-end, and downright harmful to the cause by making our side look unserious.

This, I feel, is key: we already have the remedies to the problem available to us and we are using them. In fact, we scored a great victory last November and we’ve had our first real victory in court. The House has passed a repeal bill, and a vote can be forced in the Senate. Obama can certainly veto a repeal measure, but 2012 isn’t that far away. And there’s a growing movement in favor of the passage of a Repeal Amendment, which would be the right way to handle anything resembling nullification, since the law would still apply to all states equally.

With all due respect to people intrigued by the idea of nullification, to engage in an act of political necromancy in order to revive a bad doctrine that should stay forever in a sealed tomb is the height of folly. It is political chest-thumping designed to make one feel good — all show and no substance.

ObamaCare, on the other hand, is wholly substantial and a very real threat to our economic health and individual liberties. The effort to undo it will require all our focus and effort, and we should resist any temptation to be sidetracked and dissipate our energies by tilting at constitutional windmills.

UPDATE: A related article at the Washington Post.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Founding Fathers and Mudslingers

October 31, 2010

You think modern American political campaigns are vicious, mudslinging affairs in which no smear is too vile to be hurled? Hah! The modern candidates are nothing –nothing!– compared to the men whose dignified portraits grace our history books. Reason.TV presents just one amusing example:

Remember that the next time you hear someone whine about “tone” and “civility” in our election. And it wasn’t just the Founders who got down and dirty; supporters of Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams  knew how to sling a slander or two:

John Adams lived long enough to see his son become president in 1825, but he died before John Quincy Adams lost the presidency to Andrew Jackson in 1828. Fortunately, that meant he didn’t have to witness what many historians consider the nastiest contest in American history.

The slurs flew back and forth, with John Quincy Adams being labeled a pimp, and Andrew Jackson’s wife getting called a slut.

As the election progressed, editorials in the American newspapers read more like bathroom graffiti than political commentary. One paper reported that “General Jackson’s mother was a common prostitute, brought to this country by the British soldiers! She afterward married a mulatto man, with whom she had several children, of which number General Jackson is one!”

Jackson supporters were riled because Adams won the Presidency in 1824, defeating Jackson by winning in the House of Representatives while losing the popular vote in what has been called “The Corrupt Bargain.” Jackson’s supporters considered the younger Adams to be an illegitimate president and a usurper who stole the office.

Hey, that sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Now where have I heard that before?

Face it, folks: civil, dignified elections are are much more the exception than the rule, here. Now, excuse me while I go get some more mud to sling.

RELATED: The 10 dirtiest campaigns in US history.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A liberty issue

August 1, 2009

Mark Steyn zeroes in on the real problem behind ObamaCare and all other state-run health plans: it’s not so much the cost as the freedom of the individual:

That’s the argument that needs to be won. And, if you think I’m being frivolous in positing bureaucratic regulation of doughnuts and vacations, consider that under the all-purpose umbrellas of “health” and “the environment,” governments of supposedly free nations are increasingly comfortable straying into areas of diet and leisure. Last year, a British bill attempted to ban Tony the Tiger, longtime pitchman for Frosties, from children’s TV because of his malign influence on young persons. Why not just ban Frosties? Or permit it by prescription only? Or make kids stand outside on the sidewalk to eat it? It was also proposed — by the Conservative party, alas — that, in the interests of saving the planet, each citizen should be permitted to fly a certain number of miles a year, after which he would be subject to punitive eco-surtaxes. Isn’t restricting freedom of movement kind of, you know . . . totalitarian?

Freedom is messy. In free societies, people will fall through the cracks — drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all those tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high.

Government health care would be wrong even if it “controlled costs.” It’s a liberty issue. I’d rather be free to choose, even if I make the wrong choices.

Read the whole thing. People are rightfully (and increasingly) appalled at the astronomical, economy-busting costs and taxes and tangled bureaucracy this plan would entail, but they need to understand the core issue: surrendering control over one’s basic decisions regarding health, whether it be over medical procedures or lifestyle, fundamentally changes the nature of the relations between the government and the citizen. The latter goes from being the source of sovereignty from which government derives its powers to being no more than “the governed.”

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would be at once disgusted with the Democratic Party he helped found and affrighted by the willingness of so many to embrace what he would call “tyranny.”

LINKS: Fausta’s blog. Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard thinks the best way to stop this train wreck is to insist Congress require itself and all federal employees to take part. I agree.