Many conservatives considered the mandate unconstitutional under the commerce clause, arguing that if the federal government could compel people to buy health insurance, it could compel them to buy almost anything — even broccoli, the archetypal example debated during the oral arguments three months ago.
In a complex decision, the court found that Congress’ powers to regulate commerce did not justify the mandate. But it reasoned that the penalty, to be collected by the Internal Revenue Service starting in 2015, is a tax and is not unconstitutional.
Back in 2009, President Obama, when asked directly if the individual mandate was a tax, said: “For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.”
While sincere Christians may disagree on the role of government with respect to health care, I think we should all prefer clarity and straightforwardness in public discourse.