Nearly two centuries ago Daniel Webster stood before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of James McCulloch, head of the Baltimore branch of the Second Bank of the United States. At issue were two basic questions: Did the federal government have the authority to establish a bank? And did states have the authority to tax that bank (and by extension the federal government)?
"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, the power to destroy," Webster famously argued in opposition to the latter question.
Chief Justice John Marshall agreed, parroting Webster's words almost verbatim in his ruling.
"That the power to tax involves the power to destroy ... (is) not to be denied," Marshall wrote.
Yet this "undeniable" premise - first invoked in 1819 on behalf of an onerous expansion of federal authority - has been explicitly rebuked 193 years later in support of an even more onerous expansion of federal authority. In fact the destructive power of taxation has just been extended far beyond a mere list of items subject to duties, imports or levies - it can now actually compel participation in the private sector.
More than at any other time in American history, the power to tax has indeed become the power to destroy - our economy, our liberty and perhaps one day even our lives.
Chief Justice John Roberts' refusal to rein in this destructive force will have immediate and lasting reverberations. First, Roberts' decision singlehandedly turned a 5-4 overruling of U.S. President Barack Obama's socialized medicine monstrosity into a narrow upholding of its "constitutionality."
"Obamacare" - which will impose $800 billion in new taxes, add $2 trillion to the national debt and raise health insurance costs by an average of $2,100 per family - is now poised to wreak havoc on a nation that's already suffocating under high taxes, crippling deficits and a devalued dollar.
Obviously this is a catastrophic outcome - yet it pales in comparison to the long-term damage done by this decision....