My last post is a lot to read, so here’s a simple way to look at it: say Congress cuts Social Security $300 billion but simultaneously directs $299 billion to buy F-35 stealth fighters. Is that a “tax increase?” You have to have your head up your ass to think of it as such.
And that perspective is not improved if the F-35 program actually gets $301 billion. Is that extra $1 billion in spending a “tax increase”? In a technical sense, yes – you must admit – because the US taxpayer will pay for it sooner or later via taxes. But, at the same time, treating it the same as a naked tax increase makes no sense (especially when you consider that it’s a stimulative spending program).
So the core debate here – what you need to answer to decide whether the ACA is a tax or not – is whether or not the ACA really will reduce healthcare costs, in aggregate, from their previous trend/path. That’s going to be an interesting subject of macroeconomic and public-policy research, but I’ll tell you one group of people that are NOT qualified to come up with their own answer to that debate – supreme court justices!
The 5 justices that decided to defer a premature judgement to that question did the right thing.