Constitutionality and Good Policy are Two Different Things, Part 1
I haven’t written anything about Obamacare the past two years because I was waiting to see what the Supreme Court would do with the case. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), more commonly known as Obamacare, was destined for the Supreme Court ever since it was "deemed to pass" the House. An interesting and highly questionable process used to propel it into law without the House actually voting on it. A process made even more interesting by the fact that at the time the Democrat Party had super-majorities in both the House and the Senate but they were still unwilling to risk a vote. This June the Supreme Court found:
The actual law did not use the word "tax". That word had been edited out by the Congress before it went to the President to sign. (After all, according to the Democrats, it was not a tax, it was a penalty.) Justice Roberts interpreted the penalty as a tax, effectively reinserting the word tax into the law – an action much more akin to actions of activist judges than to constitutionalist judges! By doing that, the law became constitutional and the legality of it is now settled.
So why am I writing about it now? Because being constitutional and being a good policy that is beneficial for the country are two very different things.
This roughly 2,600 page long law gives unprecedented powers to unelected bureaucrats in the Federal government. The Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service being the two agencies radically empowered. It also swells the ranks of federal employees – the biggest increase being the estimated 1,600 new full-time IRS agents needed to review all the tax returns to determine if the many new PPACA-related statutory reporting requirements such as: tax credit reporting requirements, health insurance exchange distribution system reporting requirements, health insurer reporting requirements, tax credit reporting requirements, health insurance exchange distribution system reporting requirements, and health insurer reporting requirements are being met properly.
They also will review returns for compliance with employment tax and excise tax audits, individual coverage requirement and employer responsibility payments. IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that the IRS will follow up with the taxpayer. I bet they will!
These changes started taking effect in fiscal year 2012 and are fully in force in 2014. They started last September but you won’t see the changes until you file in April 2013. OH! What a coincidence…that isn’t until AFTER the next election.
Obviously more Federal employees means higher Federal expenses. We already have an unsustainable national debt, run trillion dollar yearly budget deficits and borrow over $0.40 of every $1.00 the Federal government spends. More unnecessary expenses are not what America needs!
The agencies responsible for writing the rules about the new law are having a heyday! There are already over 13,000 pages of new regulations with 149 major new rules prepared to take effect and they have barely scratched the surface of this law! The costs of regulation are largely hidden from view, paid for indirectly by higher prices, fewer choices and less innovation. Regulations have been called "the hidden tax" and the cost of the regulations does not appear in the Federal budget.
Organizations such as the Small Business Administration try to estimate what the impact of regulations will be. To be considered a "major rule" the apparent (not hidden) economic impact of the rule must be estimated to be in excess of $100 million. Just these 149 rules have an estimated impact of over $149,000,000. America doesn’t need to be burdened with the heavy price of over-regulation by the Federal government and this law only adds to that problem. (In a 2010 report released by the Small Business Administration, total regulatory costs amounted to about $1.75 trillion annually. That cost has grown significantly since then and is poised to explode upward with these new regulations.)
Not incidentally, it is not just individuals that have a mandate forcing them to have an approved health care policy. Employers with more than 49 employees that fail to provide health insurance coverage that meets the Executive Branch’s approval will have to pay a penalty also. The $2000 per employee fine is less expensive than carrying the health insurance. It is anticipated that many small employers will prefer to save money by dropping the health coverage they carry for employees and pay the fine instead. Democrats even admitted this before the bill became law over two years ago.
Anticipation of the requirement has contributed to the very poor economic "recovery" the country is making. Small businesses are the biggest source of employment in America. The uncertainty about the upcoming rules, regulations, taxes and fines created by this law as well as the size limit of 49 employees has prevented many businesses from trying to grow or expand.
Obamacare hampers the national economy and takes power from the people by increasing the power of the Federal bureaucracy. The next article will address more of the negative effects and why this law is bad policy for America. Who we elect to office makes a difference. This next election we need to elect people who will repeal this law and write a good healthcare reform law.