RE “CHIEF Justice Roberts’s broccoli court” by John E. Sununu (Op-ed, July 2): In the debate over the recent Supreme Court ruling, a common argument among the dissenters has emerged — namely that if Congress can tax you for not buying health insurance, it can tax you for not eating broccoli. This ignores a large difference between two things that are both unpopular with small children: vegetables and visits to the doctor. Health care is not excludable; we expect to be able to show up at an emergency room and be treated regardless of our ability to pay for it. Broccoli is excludable; we don’t expect to be given broccoli that we can’t pay for.
Every non-excludable service, such as police, firefighters, and education through grade 12, that we receive regardless of our ability to pay, is provided by the government through taxes. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to have a tax on not having health insurance as long as health care remains non-excludable and the government is expected to pick up the tab.
The Supreme Court’s ruling does not grant Congress a new type of power. Rather, the ruling characterizes health care as a different type of product, one that is very different from broccoli.