By Mark Blackney
What is it with government types who create these regulations and mammoth mandates? What goes through their heads as they come up with an idea, make it as complicated as possible then do a sales job on the public that would make a snake oil salesman proud?
We all know that they believe that the public is stupid – that only government has the answers to life’s problems. This was recently confirmed by one of the most honest men to come out of Washington DC in years. Jonathan Gruber, a self-described architect of Obamacare, told us in a series of speeches that the entire health care campaign was based on fooling the voters that government believes are stupid. Based on the 2012 election, it worked.
Government acts as if it n eeds to be our parent. What it doesn’t get is that a good parent is honest, hardworking, sets a good example and doesn’t set up unattainable rules that humiliate and hurt. The way our government has been acting lately, CPS would be knocking at its door.
Government mandates and massive programs follow a consistent format. A politico or a party comes up with a situation that affects a small number of people. But it would score big political points to make it a mountain instead of a molehill. In order to garner support, a masterful sales job starts through the all-too-willing media. Daily the public is bombarded with woeful tales of suffering and demonizing of the current condition.
Meanwhile, behind the curtain, the politicos are creating their master plan to make major changes. “Experts”, consultants and pollsters work the room to come up with a solution for a problem that doesn’t really exist. That doesn’t matter. The goal is a score with a new government mandate, gain more control and get their names in the history book.
The problem with their plans is that in order to make them work for the minority of affected people, a majority have to suffer through massive, unnecessary changes that negatively affect their lives. The majority are the ones hit with higher taxes, regulations and penalties.
Selling the actual plan to the unwitting public takes great manipulative skills. Of utmost importance, only the positive features can be mentioned with the complicated side effects of the plan kept well hidden. This is when spin doctors and celebrities come on board with glorious productions about the nirvana that will come with the program’s passage. Knowing that the gullible public is always looking for a perceived easier way of life, honesty isn’t even a factor. Facts are nebulous and irrelevant. It’s only what sounds good to make the public feel good.
And woe to anyone who challenges the sales points with real facts and common sense. They are called out as unpatriotic, ignorant or just wanting to block progress. Breathless news anchors act appalled that anyone would challenge this wonderful government program. Don’t they know what’s good for them?
And the bill gets passed. Never mind that it’s very partisan and has to be passed to see what’s in it. The sales job worked. They got re-elected. But at what cost?
Carefully dangling only positive carrots before our noses, the rollout starts. Promises of great things for a small number of people are filtered through a murky lens that wipes out the realities for the rest of us. However, rational people start connecting the dots as the dirty little secrets start cropping up about the costs and regulations.
The medical industry was the first to see what was coming down the pike. They did the math and knew that 30 million people couldn’t get health coverage and actually get treatment without adding more physicians. With most of the new patients being government funded, the reimbursements would very low. The paperwork and regulations were cringe worthy.
Businesses saw the fiscal impacts on their companies. In addition to huge cost increases to cover their employees, they have to hire additional people to navigate all the punitive regulations. With mandated coverage starting with the 50th employee, business owners also knew that their plans for growth were now stymied.
The public didn’t get gob smacked until the actual roll out in 2013. The shameful web site roll out was the government at its most dishonest and inept worst. Any private company would have been put in jail for such deception. People were unable to sign up for the government sponsored policies, had to work with incompetent, untrained spokespeople then discovered that much of what they were told was false.
Other responsible people who paid for their coverage, had it suddenly cancelled and replaced with far more expensive and less amicable policies. Worst of all, if they complained that their lives were just upended, they were called ignorant and freeloaders by health care supporters. They are now facing renewals that are shifting doctors around and further limiting their choices for health care.
There is one more major disaster waiting on many people’s doorsteps – tax time. The government has adroitly publicized the non-compliance penalty for those who did not obtain health coverage. They will face a penalty that will come from their tax refunds. The purpose of this campaign, is to force people to get covered.
However, the dirty little secret of Obamacare, and deliberately kept quiet until recently, is what the people who purchased coverage that use the government subsidies will have to face by April 15th. They will have to reconcile their actual income with what they reported when applying for the subsidies. If there is a difference, it will affect their taxes. H&R Block estimates that over 58% of these people will have to pay those subsidies back. This makes sense since they enjoyed a fiscal advantage that they weren’t entitled to. But, most don’t even realize this is going to happen. That is a disgrace. The 21 page booklet on Obamacare taxes wasn’t even released until December. Not only will they pay more taxes, they will also pay their tax preparers extra fees to complete the new forms for Obamacare.
H&R Block reports that nobody understands the new tax law, the greatest change to the tax code in 20 years. The saddest part is that it involves mostly lower income people who usually file simple tax forms. This year, there are up to 3 new forms they may have to include. In a national survey, 3 out of 4 taxpayers are not aware of this.
And that is the worst part about government mandates. They are deliberately overly complicated and complex that it is impossible for ordinary citizens to be in compliance. It’s the arrogance of government programs that makes them so insidious. It expects people to jump through all sorts of unrealistic hoops or face major retribution. In the case of the subsidies, recipients are expected to inform the government of any life changes during the year including relocations, marital status or income changes so their subsidies can be adjusted. Most people I know don’t think about calling Uncle Sam when those things happen. Anyway, chances are their information would be recorded incorrectly at the government end.
And if they complain, they will be called stupid and ignorant.
Obamacare isn’t the largest or the most destructive mandate created by Washington, but it is the first to have the veil removed from the deceptions. Despite the efforts of government to manipulate the public and cover the true facts, our expanded media including the internet, is making it harder to fool the American people. This is proven in the recent mid-term election where more Americans are informed about what that wizard behind the curtain in Washington is doing and got rid of many of his cohorts.
Let’s hope it’s a sign of good things to come.