The 16th amendment was designed to clarify the taxing authority of the federal government by essentially removing the issue of apportionment among the states. It cannot be used by the Obamacare apologists to justify the penalty since its authority to tax is based solely on income, i.e., "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportioned among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." So a broad interpretation of the regulating authority of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 is the linchpin of the court’s ruling to save PPACA (“Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”).
PPACA was ruled to meet the tenets of the U.S. Constitution by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. Chief Justice Roberts in his opinion said, "Congress may also “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States." (see page 5, SCOTUS Ruling ACA.PDF at http://www.asahq.org/For-Members/Advocacy/Washington-Alerts/... ). Justice Roberts goes on to say that PPACA is authorized under the Tax and Spend authority (IRS).
However Roberts conveniently left out the last section of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1, "but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States." It is wrong to split a statement of law apart from its original context to justify a legal interpretation. Just look what some scholars and journalists have unsuccessfully tried to do with the second amendment.
The key word is the last section of Clause 1 is "uniform". The tax imposed on anyone who does not buy health insurance is anything but consistent ("uniform") in its application. There are numerous exemptions (people on Medicare part A, military veterans who receive VA healthcare, members of congress, etc). The tax is based upon a percentage of household income which can very, person by person. The law specifically creates a disjointed, complex and direct relationship between "household income" and the procurement of health insurance which is an expense, not active or passive income.
It is an attempt by the court to legally justify some sort of perverted marriage between a specific industry (healthcare insurance) regulated by the commerce clause and the tax and spend clause for which the U.S. Constitution does not grant such authority to the federal government.
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