Mandates and taxes

By rule of the US Supreme Court, a penalty imposed on failure to fulfill a congressional mandate represents a tax. This historic determination should inform regulation of ethanol made from cellulose for blending into gasoline. Indeed, a bill addressing the ethanol abomination emerged in Congress the day after the Supreme Court disclosed its analogous decision on health-care reform. The timing is interesting. But the legislation, useful as it is, doesn't go nearly far enough. The court decision upheld the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and its controversial requirement that individuals purchase health insurance. In a twist certain to be discussed for many years, the court rejected the argumen...

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