The Obama Administration now argues that the power of the Federal government is limited to… pretty much whatever it can get away with. An exaggeration? You make the call:
In a brief defending the [Obamacare] law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.
Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution, the department said. For more than a century, it added, the Supreme Court has held that Congress can tax activities that it could not reach by using its power to regulate commerce.
“The Commerce Clause supplies sufficient authority for the shared-responsibility requirements in the new health reform law,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “To the extent that there is any question of additional authority — and we don’t believe there is — it would be available through the General Welfare Clause.”
So there you have it. There is no essential limit to what Congress may take from you or mandate of you, and very few limits on how the Executive Branch can go about exercising those powers.
UPDATE: A little further down in the story, the CBO says, “Because the penalty is a tax, no one can challenge it in court before paying it and seeking a refund.”
I wondered about that. The IRS has its own courts and its own judges paid for out of its own budget. And they’re the only courts in the land (?) where you’re presumed guilty until proven innocent.
Welcome to Brazil.