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Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Broccoli Requirement

During oral argument on the health care law, Justice Scalia said:  "Could you define the market -- everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli."

Along with most observers, Justice Scalia apparently failed to notice that the statute includes just such a requirement:
IN GENERAL.—Subtitle D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new chapter:
"(a) REQUIREMENT TO MAINTAIN MINIMUM ESSENTIAL DIET. -- An applicable individual shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that the individual, and any dependent of the individual who is an applicable individual, shall consume the recommended daily allowance of all vitamins and minerals as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture. This requirement includes, but is not limited to, the annual consumption of of six pounds of broccoli.
"(b) VERIFICATION -- An applicable individual shall verify compliance with the requirement by affirming on his or her individual tax return that he or she has consumed the minimum amount of broccoli.  The Internal Revenue Service is hereby authorized to require additional verification in the form of stool samples.
 "(c) NOTIFICATION OF NONCOMPLIANCE.—Not later than June 30 of each year, the Secretary of the Treasury, 21 acting through the Internal Revenue Service and in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, shall send a notification to each individual who files an individual income tax return and who has not consumed the minimum amount of broccoli. Such notification shall contain a warning that the noncomplying individual shall be named on the National List of People Who Fail to Eat Broccoli.

Loof Lirpa, a spokesperson for the Internal Revenue Service, said that he was shocked that the requirement had escaped the attention of so many officials, including the justices of the Supreme Court.