I respect Jonathan a lot but I’m not optimistic at all. Still, worth reading his “lose battle, win war” piece here.
Sure, democracy is still a bulwark of sorts and politicians may find it harder to pass such things in the future when they will be seen clearly as taxes. But if the Founders thought that representation was enough to protect liberty, they wouldn’t have gone through so much trouble to carefully enumerate the government’s powers and the limits and checks upon them. When the taxing power becomes a highway for government unlimited by anything but elections, I think it is “lose a battle here and there, win a battle here and there, lose the war.”
UPDATE: This comment from Jason seems to fit here and follows my thought exactly – and why I’m pessimistic:
I wonder whether there are any limits, though. Could you impose an essentially infinite tax in order to force everyone to comply or go to prison? Are there any such limits to Roberts’ logic? After all, we could just punish crimes the same way: impose a super-high tax on it that no one could pay, then send violators to prison for tax evasion. Mandate, tax – a distinction without a difference, it seems to me.
UPDATE: More Adler here.
LATER UPDATE: As we begin to digest, we see that there are some limits. As Jason notes below in his update to his post, Roberts did supply a rather odd limit that would seem to make it harder to impose an effective tax. But will such a limitation stick? And does it matter that much since Congress can’t impose a million dollar tax to incentivize you to buy a Volt but it can tax you a fair bit to purchase something you don’t want?! Smell like liberty to you?