“As a Democrat, you should be outraged”, the client said in lieu of “Hello”. I paused for a moment and he identified himself. I replied that I’m seldom outraged. “Weren’t you shocked by the decision?” Of course, if he had ever read this blog he would have known the answer. “Nope, I’m not shocked.” “You knew that Roberts would do this”, he asked incredulously. “No”, I replied. “I had no idea. No one did. The pundits and blowhards on both sides told their audiences what they wanted to hear. No one really knew. I never wasted a moment worrying about the Supreme Court or guessing the outcome. You can only be shocked if you believed in the prognostications of a bad guesser.”
“But it is a tax! Obama said it wasn’t a tax, but it is. This is the largest tax hike in U.S. history.”
If I may quote the hero of the right, Ronald Reagan, “There you go again.” Every time a Democratic president raises revenue, it is the largest tax hike in U.S. history. What possible pleasure could they derive from yelling “Wolf!” so often? When will even they grow tired of this refrain?
And so I reminded the client and others that I’ve talked with over the last few days that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Governments tax us. Period. Sometimes the legislators use the word TAX. Sometimes we are treated to the threats of penalties or fines. We are forced to purchase licenses and permits for everything from driving a car, to fishing, to installing a new hot water heater in certain suburbs. They are all taxes.
A new law was recently passed in Beachwood forbidding the use of a hand operated cell phone while driving. Does Beachwood really care? Get serious. How often have you seen a Beachwood patrol officer driving while talking on a cell phone? But this new law carries a fine (tax) of $101 and two points on your driving record. This is just another way to fill the depleted coffers.
I view all taxes, fees licenses, etc… the same. They feed the addiction politicians have to other people’s money. Some of us place a great value on defense and military spending. Some of us feel that more help should be given to the poor and less fortunate. And of course, there are those that believe that our job creators need more help and incentives. If funds are unlimited, there is no conflict. But funds aren’t unlimited, so the arguments continue. What we have not had is an honest debate about priorities. Do we care enough about defense, healthcare, poverty, et al to spend some of our own money to solve these problems?
So, let’s stop the silliness about taxes and get back to the matter at hand. Does the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) cover the uninsured (allegedly 50 million Americans) and control costs? My answer is still NO. Have the Republicans put forth a comprehensive alternative? Also, still NO.
You can’t beat something with nothing.
Millions of dollars have been spent by insurers, government entities at every level, and businesses to comply with the PPACA. Simply repealing the law makes all of that money wasted. Though some Americans have been hurt by the law, others have benefited. Repealing the law runs the risk of eliminating their insurance coverage. Repeal without a better, more comprehensive solution, is irresponsible.
Repeal and Replace is cynical political rhetoric if there isn’t another option ready to fill the void. Responsible lawmakers, more focused on governing and the public good, might consider a different R word, Revise.
Working together, something that has yet to be tried, our legislators could attempt to create an amended PPACA that might have a better chance at accomplishing a couple worthwhile goals. That law might not be as useful as a fundraising tool, but could help to deliver affordable care to more Americans.
What will it take? The first step may be a little intellectual honesty. The second is to notice the flowers hiding amongst the thorns.