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Until this week, Republican Congressman Steven Palazzo of Mississippi's Katrina ravaged 4th district was best known for his opposition to federal aid for New York and New Jersey in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Now thanks to his partnership with Florida senator and 2016 GOP White House hopeful Marco Rubio, Palazzo will be known for something just as galling. On Tuesday, Rubio endorsed Palazzo's "Right to Refuse" amendment which makes the Obamacare individual health insurance mandate unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the simple language declaring "Congress shall make no law that imposes a tax on a failure to purchase goods or services" would likely make Social Security and Medicare illegal as well.

Never one to miss an opportunity for grandstanding, Sen. Rubio last week jumped on the IRS imbroglio to call for the repeal of Obamacare because of the agency's role in the Affordable Care Act. This week, Rubio joined Palazzo in trying to undo the Congress' taxation power that the Roberts' Supreme Court cited as the basis for upholding Obamacare. As Fox News reported:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced Tuesday that he is proposing an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would effectively invalidate the requirement under ObamaCare that nearly everybody buy health insurance.

The proposed amendment, named the "Right to Refuse" amendment, would make it unconstitutional for Congress to enact a law that imposes a tax on citizens who fail to purchase goods or services Congress has deemed mandatory. The idea is that it would apply to the so-called individual mandate, which was interpreted in 2012 as a tax.

Explaining his rationale, Rubio proclaimed, "We should put our faith in the American people to decide what goods and services they want to buy."

Of course, "we" long ago decided that we must buy some products and services or face tax penalties—or worse. Follow me below the fold to read about how among those mandated purchases are the pension and old-age health care systems known as Social Security and Medicare.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made precisely that point during the Supreme Court oral arguments in the Affordable Care Act case last year.  As the AP recounted:

Ginsburg brought up Social Security as an example, likening it to a government old-age annuity that everyone is forced to purchase.

"It just seems very strange to me that there's no question we can have a Social Security system (despite) all the people who say: 'I'm being forced to pay for something I don't want,'" she said.

"There's something very odd about that, that the government can take over the whole thing and we all say, 'Oh, yes that's fine,' but if the government wants to ... preserve private insurers, it can't do that."

For his part, Justice Anthony Kennedy "mused that Congress could have created a Medicare-style program for the uninsured, run exclusively by the government without the involvement of private insurers." Regardless, in his majority opinion Chief Justice John Roberts concluded:
Neither the Act nor any other law attaches negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance, beyond requiring a payment to the IRS.
To be sure, there are negative legal consequences to not paying the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. (160 million working Americans pay them every year, compared to just four million the CBO estimates will pay a penalty rather than purchase insurance as required by the Affordable Care Act). If you have any lingering doubts that you must purchase these mandated public products for your old-age health care and retirement income, these prosecutions should disabuse you of that notion.

As ThinkProgress explained, Congress also provides myriad tax breaks to Americans for other products and services they purchase:

There is simply nothing novel about the Affordable Care Act's requirement that most people either carry insurance or pay slightly more income taxes. The tax code gives tax breaks to people who take out mortgages or who buy products making their homes more energy efficient. A law giving tax breaks to people who buy health insurance -- which is what the Affordable Care Act does -- is no different.
Of course, for Marco Rubio and Steve Palazzo, there is one difference between the Affordable Care Act and all the other mandates, penalties and incentives contained in the U.S. tax code. The ACA has Barack Obama's name on it.

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Is Rubio going all out for anti-Obamacare (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    to garner a few votes for Immigration reform?

    "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

    by MartyM on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:29:43 AM PDT

  •  OFFS (6+ / 0-)

    who knew that (kindof) universal healthcare was the Great Satanic End of Freedom?

    These people need to be shunned. Just flat out told every day to shut the fuck up and go far away where hopefully they'll never be seen again.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:35:38 AM PDT

    •  If we Had a Civilized Mainstream Public Square (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nattiq, Sixty Something

      that could happen. But handing it over to corporations and then Constitutionally forbidding any regulations or checks and balances, means that the sociopaths get the megaphone.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:51:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  38 states have to ratify it... (7+ / 0-)

    good luck, Pugsley

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 10:53:03 AM PDT

  •  This is just Rubio (8+ / 0-)

    grandstanding in an attempt to patch up his shaky support among the GOP crazy-base since he's taken a big hit with them over his support of immigration reform.  

    •  Yeah, he's a one term wonder (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, kacemo

      Let's knock him off after Rick Scott is gone.  I'm tired of these jerks in government.  They deserve to go back to the private sector where they belong.

    •  This gives him something to hold up (0+ / 0-)

      in front of any immigration mention, etc., like a big sign hiding something you don't want people to see or, at least, notice.

      With the typical TeaBagger, it'll work (Look - a Squirrel!).

      To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men. -Abraham Lincoln

      by Eyesbright on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 07:42:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wouldn't this amendment... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, SueDe

    ...also effectively end virtually any tax credit or deduction given for purchasing something?

    It could be argued that a $750 tax credit for purchasing XYZ is effectively a $750 tax on those who don't purchase XYZ.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 11:20:13 AM PDT

    •  Now wouldn't that be filed under (0+ / 0-)

      "unintended consequences"?  The political interests that make their money clipping coupons (yes, I'm that old) wouldn't like that in the least.  And a lot of small businesses would howl too - not to mention SS and Medicare beneficiaries.  That move would likely put the final nail in the GOP coffin - they wouldn't have any constituency left at all..

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 07:44:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rubio just demonstrates again what a useless (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    little toad he is with this noisy nothing.  He's probably counting on the 'Blaze' constituency to rocket him to the top of the 2014 ticket.  As a result, we'll have to endure endless releases by his handlers to keep him visible.

    Too bad this guy didn't Peter-principle out before we had to depend on him as our Senator.  He's have made a fine barista or a great bartender at a Miami club.  He still could have skimmed the till, but we'd be out of it.

  •  What can you say? The man isn't too bright, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Radiowalla, True North

    bless his heart.

    In the time it took Adam Lanza to reload, eleven children escaped. What if...

    by Sixty Something on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 07:39:54 PM PDT

  •  What a joke. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 07:41:52 PM PDT

  •  Easy posturing, impossible to achieve (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    These guys love to thunder about constitutional amendments.

    What's the chance he'll rustle up the support required? If I remember rightly, it is 2/3 of each chamber of Congress plus 2/3--3/4ths?--of the states. I'd go look it up, except that whatever the percentages are, they're way too high for him to achieve his goal.

    The amendment most recently added to the Constitution was first proposed about 1789, I believe.

    Easy to yak it up.

    Impossible to do. At least not before about 2213 or so, if it fares as well as the latest amendment.

  •  I wonder how all those senior voters in (0+ / 0-)

    Florida will feel when they learn that their Senator supports an Amendment which would invalidate both Social Security and Medicare.   Hmmmm.

    With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 01:59:30 AM PDT

  •  Wasn't this always the point of the IRS "scandals" (0+ / 0-)

    The scandal-mongering and hyping around the IRS has some other side-effects, such as discouraging audits of political campaign organizations masquerading as "social welfare" ones and intimidating the IRS efforts to crack down on people hiding money overseas. But I've always felt the #1 goal was to taint the IRS in order to plow the ground for a more sophisticated repeal-the-ACA move, probably initially by prohibiting the IRS from expending any funds enforcing the mandates. You can see the ads being written already: "The IRS -- corrupt, politically biased, extravagant. Now they're in charge of your health care. Elect the GOP and we'll protect you."

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