Friday, December 17, 2010


I'm not a fan of Ken Cuccinelli primarily because I think he's a blind politician masquerading as an intelligently-designed being. I guess you could claim that as a state's attorney general he's isn't a politician but in Virginia it's an elected office. As someone who is allegedly a lawyer representing the best interests of his state it might behoove him to be something other then an AG that spews against "liberals".

The health care insurance mandate, in which you will pay a fine via federal taxes for not having health care insurance, seems to be the single toothpick that Cuccinelli (and to be fair, a bunch of other states' attorneys general) is using to support his hatred of the health care reform bill. Two judges have so far ruled that the bill is constitutional and one has ruled that only the mandate is unconstitutional. One of the greatest contributors to society that the internet provides is the ability of readers to contribute well-formed ideas that are often impossible for others to verbalize. In the great debate on the constitutionality of the individual mandate it hasn't been presented better than this reader's input (at

What keeps getting lost in the discussion about the so-called "mandate" is that it is simply a tax penalty for people who don't purchase insurance. If that form of incentive is unconstitutional, as some are arguing, then the intellectual impasse that you immediately run into is that incentives in the form of tax breaks are also unconstitutional. Tax breaks for specific economic activities are functionally and mathematically indistinguishable from tax penalties for failing to engage in specific activities.

For example, [Wisconsin Congressman Paul] Ryan's health-care proposal, much-loved by many self-professed conservatives, centers around tax vouchers that individuals can use to purchase health insurance -- i.e., tax breaks for buying insurance. But that is equivalent to imposing a tax penalty on everyone who doesn't purchase health insurance. Would the current "mandate", therefore, suddenly become constitutional if Congress simply raised taxes on everyone (something it surely has the power to do), and then gave a tax break to everyone who gets insurance, which would have exactly the same effect as the current bill? For that matter, what about tax breaks for all sorts of specific purchases, from houses to health care, that have been in the tax code for years?

Thanks, Mr. (or Ms.) Reader.

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