Issues & Insights
Joe Biden violates his own mask mandate. (C-SPAN)

Will Biden Propose A Mask Mandate Penalty Tax, Too?

I&I Editorial

Joe Biden can’t seem to make up his mind about whether he supports a national mask mandate. First, he was for it. Then he said it was unconstitutional. Now he’s saying he thinks he could do it through an executive order.

Well, here’s an idea. If Biden is so determined to impose a national mask mandate, he should just follow the path laid out by Obamacare, that “big f–-ing deal” which, for the first time ever, forced Americans to buy something millions didn’t want or need – government-approved insurance.

The justification for the Obamacare insurance mandate was that it was good for society as a whole to have everyone insured because it would improve the nation’s health and save money. That’s why Democrats officially labeled the Obamacare mandate penalty on the uninsured – we are not kidding about this – the “shared responsibility payment.”

When that flagrant violation of the Constitution’s limits on federal intrusion into our lives went before the Supreme Court, Justice John Roberts defended the Obamacare mandate by saying that, because of the way it was structured, it fell under the government’s taxing authority.

In other words, the government wasn’t mandating that you buy insurance, just taxing those who couldn’t prove to the IRS that they had “qualifying coverage.”

Thankfully, the Obamacare mandate penalty went away when Republicans set the amount at zero, but the mandate to buy insurance is technically still on the books.

So why doesn’t Biden, while he’s busy reviving the Obamacare mandate penalty, simply add another requirement: that every American buy and wear a government-approved mask or pay a penalty. Sorry, make a “shared responsibility payment.”

He can use the same argument as he and Barack Obama did for the individual mandate – that it will improve public health and save money.

Now, we know what you are going to say: “What about those who can’t afford a mask?”

Fear not. Obamacare shows us the way.

All that’s required is the creation of Mask Exchanges, either run by states or the federal government, and a site. There you will be able to choose from several government-approved masks.

After selecting the mask, you enter your projected income for the year, your marital status, and the number of children you have. Depending on your answers to those questions, a mask subsidy would kick in. For a married couple with two children making $50,000 a year, for example, a $2 mask might cost something like $1.25.

Then the government would pay the mask manufacturer the difference.

There would, of course, have to be a new regulatory agency to make sure that mask manufacturers weren’t taking advantage of the subsidies to jack up mask prices.

And we’d need a new federal department to certify that the masks being sold meet the government’s standards. Maybe Biden can have his “Board of Scientists” do that while they are approving a coronavirus vaccine.

To be fair, there would have to be exemptions to the mask mandate for those who meet a specified set of criteria which, like the Obamacare mandate exemptions, would include spousal abuse. All they’d have to do to qualify for the exemption is go to their local Mask Exchange and fill out the necessary paperwork.

At tax time, you’d simply need to provide proof that you purchased a mask, and wore it per the Biden mask mandate guidelines. Those who can’t show they met the mandate would make a “shared responsibility payment,” with the penalty amount based on their adjusted gross income.

As to what proof would be required to show compliance, surely the IRS could come up with a set of instructions that are simple and easy to follow.

Oh, and one more thing. If your income was higher or lower than you predicted when you enrolled in the Affordable Mask Program, you’d have to either pay back the excess subsidy money (if you made more money) when you file your taxes, or get a larger tax refund (if your income was lower).

Now, what could be simpler and more effective than that?

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

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