“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”—James Madison
Rube Goldberg’s cartoons illustrated overly complex ways to do simple tasks. He could have been a congressman. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may be the most convoluted and tortuous act ever passed by Congress. It is not a law to resolve an issue; it’s an odd conglomeration of features to garner votes. Each vote bribe got stacked on top of the others until Congress built a crooked Tower of Babel.
The law is so complex that members of Congress didn’t read it, the Supreme Court said it was cruel and unusual punishment for them to read it, and Nancy Pelosi famously said they had to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. There are nearly half a million words in the bill itself, and government agencies have already issued over a million words of enacting regulations. And this is only a small fraction of ObamaCare’s 700+ directives to develop and issue regulations. Be prepared for chaos.
There is a reason few have read the law. It’s incomprehensible. The recent news focus has been on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. As most people understand the mandate, you either have basic coverage or you pay a penalty (or tax, depending on the day). Here is a snippet of the text for the individual mandate.
DOLLAR LIMITATION.—The amount of the penalty imposed by this section on any taxpayer for any taxable year with respect to all individuals for whom the taxpayer is liable under subsection (b)(3) shall not exceed an amount equal to 300 percent the applicable dollar amount (determined without regard to paragraph (3)(C)) for the calendar year with or within which the taxable year ends.
This is only 63 of nearly 4,000 equally confusing words prescribing the individual mandate alone. Now do you blame Justice Antonin Scalia or Nancy Pelosi for not reading the bill? (If you exclude the introductory balderdash and equally verbose definition of minimal coverage, the text for the individual mandate runs to 3,827 words.)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not only convoluted and oppressive, but intentionally gives enormous, unchecked power to unelected bureaucrats. It’s already making a mockery of its formal title. Good insurance is becoming less affordable and the bill exposes patients’ sensitive medical issues to government inspection and meddling.
The bill was politically justification by claiming it would cover forty million uninsured and save the nation $100 billion to boot. With our exploding national debt, it’s too bad we didn’t have eighty million uninsured. But of course that was always a lie. The CBO now calculates the ten year cost to be $1.76 trillion, and that includes a year of revenue with no incurred cost. A true calculation of ten-year cost will be far north of $2 trillion. Another smoke and mirror trick was never including state cost. The Heritage Foundation reports that “At first, Obamacare picks up the first three years of benefit costs for expansion. But in 2017 states begin to shoulder a larger and larger share of these benefit costs.” Expect your state taxes to jump in a few years.
This is a perfectly awful bill. That may be the only thing perfect about it. We can fix the most grievous healthcare issues at a tiny fraction of the cost. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was never about solving a problem. It was always just a huge power grab. If the Supreme Court doesn’t strike it down, we must insist that the next Congress repeals it. Of course, we’ll need a president who will sign the repeal. I suspect the present incumbent will instead use his veto power. In that case, I suggest you eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Oh wait, I don’t need to make that a suggestion because the government will dictate it.