The Limits of the Taxing Power

An interesting question emerges from one of my comment threads on whether or not congress should be able to use the taxing power to get over limits on its enumerated powers.


1)  Can Congress enact a $50,000 tax on second term abortions?

2)  Can Congress enact a $50,000 tax increase, which is then rebated to anyone who does not have an abortion?

3)  If not, why not?  I don't want to hear any arguments about the social side: how necessary abortions are, how women would just have terrible back room abortions, how tragic this might be for women forced to carry a child to term.  Nor do I want to hear any arguments that this doesn't involve interstate commerce, as of course abortions are frequently purchased across state lines, while in many places, it is illegal to buy insurance from other states.  Presuming that Congress is agreed that abortions are bad, and they want to discourage them, why shouldn't they be able to use their taxing power to enact a ban that they could not enact more directly?

4)  If yes, they can, how long do you think it will take before Republicans enact one?
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Life as an Obama Impersonator

"When you think you're the president, you just act like you are above everybody else."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

VIdeo

Life as an Obama Impersonator

"When you think you're the president, you just act like you are above everybody else."

Video

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

More in Business

Just In