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June 28th, 2012

Steve King: Ruling Gives Congress Taxation Powers They Didn’t Know Existed

The Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare was a major disappointment for Iowa Congressman Steve King. He has waged a two and a half year battle against the bill. King even drafted legislation to repeal ObamaCare before the President signed it  into law.

As a reward for his vigilance, Chief Justice John Roberts invited King to be his special guest inside the Supreme Court during the ObamaCare hearings in March. After watching the proceedings, King predicted that ObamaCare would be ruled unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. The court did rule that way, but in a 5-4 decision, found ObamaCare constitutional under taxation.

Usually Justice Kennedy is the swing vote for this court. Congressman King never would have guessed back in March that Stephens would rule the bill unconstitutional, while Roberts would rule in favor of it, particularly in the manner that he did.

“Chief Justice Roberts siding with the members of the court that generally are on the left side of these decisions have concluded that congress has passed a tax that we didn’t know existed, and an individual mandate,” King said. “It’s the first time in history I believe that a mandate and a tax have been tied together.”

Congressman King believes the decision to rule the bill constitutional via taxes sets a very dangerous precedent. “It’s a victory for President Obama and it confers a power on the United States Congress that we didn’t believe existed when we woke up this morning, and that’s a power to coerce activity by taxation and that is very troubling to me. I want a limited government.”

When Barack Obama was campaigning in favor of his healthcare bill, he was very careful not to call it a new tax. Now, the Supreme Court appears to have greatly expanded the taxation authority of Congress. Despite his disappointment and surprise over Roberts’ ruling, King was careful not to criticize the Chief Justice.

“I have great respect for Chief Justice Roberts. I personally like him, but also his intellect and his jurisprudence is something I’ve respected all along,” King said. “I’ve reserved a direct criticism. I want to be able to read the decision thoroughly and sit there and contemplate the language and not rush to judgment.”

King considers this Supreme Court decision to be the most important one in almost 40 years, since Roe v. Wade in 1973. He vows to continue his efforts to repeal ObamaCare. However, without significant electoral gains by Republicans this November, that will prove very difficult. The GOP would need to maintain their House majority, win a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and claim the White House. GOP nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney reiterated his opposition to ObamaCare on Thursday.

“It should be ripped out by the roots,” King said. “I will not agree to any vestige of ObamaCare being left behind because it will grow back on us. If there are provisions out there that people think are worthy of federal activity, I would suggest they bring them as stand alone pieces of legislation and see if they can pass them in the light of day. This deal was put together in Nancy Pelosi’s office behind closed doors by legislative shenanigans. It wasn’t a deal that the American people agreed with at the time and they disagree with it even more today.”

If there is one bright spot in Thursday’s outcome, the Supreme Court decision could be the call to action for conservatives, spurring them to rally behind Republicans, much as they did in 2010. Congressman King predicted the ruling would turn into bad news for Iowa Democrats in November.

“Bruce Braley gave a closing argument in favor of ObamaCare and was chosen by Nancy Pelosi, then the Speaker of the House, to give the closing argument. I think that puts him in a more vulnerable position for reelection in that new district in northeast Iowa,” King said. “I would look at that and say it’s more likely a pick-up seat for Republicans. I think that also Dave Loebsack’s seat is threatened more than it was otherwise.

The Fifth District Congressman also believes the backlash from Thursday’s ruling makes it more likely that himself and Tom Latham will be reelected and less likely that Barack Obama will win Iowa, which should severely hamper the president’s reelection bid.

“So, from an electoral standpoint, this is good news, but I don’t like to get good news with such a high constitutional price.” King added that it could take months to absorb the Supreme Court’s decision and decipher all of the ramifications of their ruling.

Photo by Dave Davidson,

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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