Finding Out What’s In It

In my RealClearPolitics newsletter, I pointed out that one of the big stories of the next year is the actual implementation of Obamacare. This was conveniently delayed until after the election, which served President Obama’s interest in getting re-elected. But now it is going to make his second term a nightmare—for all of us.

The Washington Examiner‘s Timothy Carney notes that even Democrats in Congress—you know, the ones who voted Obamacare into effect—are beginning to “find out what’s in it,” and as they discover its disastrous provisions, they are seeking to reverse them one by one.

First, Democrats killed the ill-conceived long-term-care-insurance measure, known as the CLASS Act. This provision, which provided government insurance for long-term care, was, amazingly, booked as reducing the deficit. This was ridiculous, and after the bill passed, Democrats realized it was a disaster, and the administration has suspended its implementation….

Another reason the bill was supposed to “reduce the deficit” was an unusually onerous tax hike on small businesses. The provision, known as the “1099 provision” would have forced small businesses to file all sorts of new paperwork for all sorts of transactions (sell a digital camera, file a 1099), in the hope of picking up transactions that are taxable. Congress also repealed that provision.

And now the health-care-industry lobbies that supported this subsidy-and-mandate-laden bill are lobbying to kill the cost-controls that offset the costs of its subsidies. All sorts of providers are lobbying to kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board. And the medical-device industry has convinced two Democratic Obamacare-backing senators to try to kill the medical device tax.

All of this points to the peculiarly lawless nature of modern legislation. Note how one of these provisions was reversed when the administration “suspended its implementation.” And notice how much of this bill still requires “implementation,” either through reams of new regulations and executive orders, or through giant state-level programs to create health-insurance exchanges. We have to pass the bill and then spend years implementing it before anyone can know what’s in it, because there isn’t really anything in it. It’s mostly an open-ended grant of power to federal and state bureaucracy, not a set of specific legal provisions.—RWT


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