House Conservatives Challenge Obamacare with Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act

Two conservative members of Congress, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Diane Black (R-TN), introduced the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act of 2012, H.R. 6097, on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday. 

The bill, which has 55 additional co-sponsors, directly challenges mandates introduced last fall by Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius under the authority of the Patient Care and Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare). 

The recent Supreme Court decision declaring Obamacare constitutional precipitated the introduction of the legislation. The bill's purpose is "to exempt employers from any excise tax and certain suits and penalties in the case of a failure of a group health plan to provide coverage to which an employer objects on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction."

At a press conference Tuesday, Sensenbrenner emphatically articulated the danger posed to religious freedom in the United States if ObamaCare is fully implemented, and how the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act of 2012 will eliminate that danger: 

What this legislation will do is repeal the taxes that will be levied upon those religious institutions and those who have moral or religious objections in the private sector from having to pay for insurance under the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare, that violate their religious or moral views.

We’ve had an awful lot of debate on this subject since Obamacare was passed and since Secretary Sebelius announced her mandates sometime in the fall of last year.

What has not been discussed is the tax that is imposed upon those that fail to comply with that mandate, either through religious objections or moral grounds. Those taxes are severe, they are confiscatory. It is $100 per employee per day. So, a religious institution that, say, has a church and an elementary school beside it that employs fifty employees total, which include the administrative and maintenance personnel, ends up being taxed $36,500 per employee per year. Or the fifty-employee institution would have to pay a tax of $1,825,000 per year, every year.

This is a part of the Internal Revenue Code that was passed as a part of Obamacare, and for those who are interested in citing the section, it is Internal Revenue Code Section 4980D. Obviously, if these taxes are levied and they are enforced, there will be no religious-affiliated institutions left in this country. Religious-affiliated institutions, I think, have been one of the ways that there has been diversity provided in education, in healthcare, and in various types of social services in-relief services. I don’t think they should be taxed out of business, and neither do my co-sponsors.

Chief co-sponsor Diane Black, who worked as a nurse for over forty years before her election to Congress in 2010, was equally blunt in her remarks:  

The Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act would stop the Obama administration from levying this huge tax on religious employers.  

With the HHS mandate, the administration has set up an impossible choice for many religious affiliated institutions: either violate the law and pay a tax, or violate your conscience. This means some of the most respected parochial schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, and universities across our country will have to choose between violating their faith to keep their doors open or paying a potentially devastating tax.

Never before in our nation’s history has there been a mandate forcing individuals to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay a tax.

Ironically, Congressman Sensenbrenner cited the origination clause, Article 7, Section 1, Clause 1, which states that all revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives, as the constitutional authorization for the legislation. I noted in an op-ed earlier this month that Justice Roberts' decision to call the Obamacare individual mandate a tax subjected the law to further constitutional challenges, since none of the substantive elements of the 2,000 plus page law originated in the House of Representatives.

Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of  Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.


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