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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Alan D.
Viard

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