An argument for the health insurance mandate being a tax
Letter to the editor

To the Editor:

The coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court's health care decision in the July 2 issue alluded to several previous Tax Notes articles that discussed the constitutionality of the health insurance mandate. I write to call readers' attention to an article that went unmentioned. In the July 26, 2010, On the Margin column (‘‘The Health Insurance Mandate: If It Must Be, Let It Be a Tax,'' p. 415, Doc 2010-14305, 2010 TNT 144-10), Ryan Lirette, a lawyer then working as a research associate at the American Enterprise Institute, presented a cogent and comprehensive case for upholding the mandate and the associated penalty as an exercise of the federal government's power to tax. Lirette wrote, ‘‘Despite its name, the mandate in its economic effects walks and talks like a tax rather than a penalty.'' Citing grounds similar to those ultimately invoked by the Supreme Court, Lirette also rebutted the contention that the penalty is a direct tax that must be apportioned among the states.

Sincerely,
Alan D. Viard
Resident Scholar,
American Enterprise Institute
July 5, 2012

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About the Author

 

Alan D.
Viard
  • Alan D. Viard is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies federal tax and budget policy.

    Prior to joining AEI, Viard was a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and an assistant professor of economics at Ohio State University. He has also been a visiting scholar at the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Tax Analysis, a senior economist at the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, and a staff economist at the Joint Committee on Taxation of the US Congress. While at AEI, Viard has also taught public finance at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. Earlier in his career, Viard spent time in Japan as a visiting scholar at Osaka University’s Institute of Social and Economic Research.

    A prolific writer, Viard is a frequent contributor to AEI’s “On the Margin” column in Tax Notes and was nominated for Tax Notes’s 2009 Tax Person of the Year. He has also testified before Congress, and his work has been featured in a wide range of publications, including Room for Debate in The New York Times, TheAtlantic.com, Bloomberg, NPR’s Planet Money, and The Hill. Viard is the coauthor of “Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X Tax Revisited” (2012) and “The Real Tax Burden: Beyond Dollars and Cents” (2011), and the editor of “Tax Policy Lessons from the 2000s” (2009).

    Viard received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and a B.A. in economics from Yale University. He also completed the first year of the J.D. program at the University of Chicago Law School, where he qualified for law review and was awarded the Joseph Henry Beale prize for legal research and writing.
  • Phone: 202-419-5202
    Email: aviard@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Regan Kuchan
    Phone: 202-862-5903
    Email: regan.kuchan@aei.org

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