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Associated Press/Photo by Nati Harnik

Down to business

Healthcare's first tax and first court challenge this month

Issue: "Your right to vote," July 31, 2010

The legal battle over Obamacare began July 1 in a Richmond, Va., courtroom, and it isn't likely to end until it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court. Virginia Solicitor General E. Duncan Getchell argued that the healthcare law's insurance mandate is an "unprecedented" and "radical" overreach. Lawyers for the Obama administration countered that requiring citizens to buy health insurance is within federal government authority. The hearing occurred the day a new Virginia statute went into effect making it illegal to force residents to purchase insurance. District Court Judge Henry Hudson said he would decide within 30 days whether the case can proceed. With Americans facing a fine unless they buy insurance by 2014, 20 other states have joined a similar suit in Florida. A hearing for that case is scheduled for Sept. 14.

July 1 also commenced the first tax of Obamacare: a 10 percent tax on tanning beds, expected to raise $2.7 billion toward the healthcare law's $1 trillion cost. Not surprisingly, the Indoor Tanning Association is afraid that the tax levy jeopardizes the nation's 19,000 tanning salons and the approximately 160,000 workers they employ. "This directly violates the promise President Obama made not to raise taxes on the middle class," said Dan Humiston, president of the association. "A tax like this could be devastating to thousands of 'mom and pop' tanning businesses across the country." But they won't be alone: When fully implemented, tax hikes tied to Obamacare will total $569 billion.

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Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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