Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crisis averted? With a sop to the new Puritans

Reports out of Washington indicate that a deal has been reached whereby the GOP has agreed to release its hostages and avoid destroying the country because they hate President Obama more than they love America.

Until the bill is passed, hold all celebrations.

But apparently the deal will reopen the government at least through January 15 and raise the debt limit to cover at least through February 7.  Out of all of the laundry list of demands the hostage-takers had made, only one is being granted.  Apparently the subsidies provided in the ACA will be subject to "enhanced" income verification.

I have absolutely no idea what that means.  The "subsidies" provided in the ACA, which are actually tax credits, were already subject to income verification.  On top of that, the way that these tax credits were already going to get sorted out is through your federal income tax return, which is pretty much the best way we have to verify a person's income.

It bears repeating that the subsidies in the ACA are TAX CREDITS.  Somehow, the Democrats managed to find a tax cut that the GOP doesn't like.

This maneuver, like many before it emanating from the Republicans, is yet another example of the new Puritanism that has invaded our way of thinking.

Have you heard this complaint?  "I was in the grocery store, and the person ahead of me was obviously using EBT, and do you know what they bought?  [insert some "luxury" food here] I wish I could be lazy and on welfare and lie around eating like that all day."  That complaint is often directed at the acts of a racial minority, or at least a noted poor person, and often accompanies comments about the number of children, marriages, divorces, or dogs that person has had.  "My taxes would be a lot lower if those people would work/have fewer kids/get rid of their dogs," the lament continues.

I find it remarkable, the number of people who are most animated in their political views by a desire to make absolutely certain that people don't get some undeserved benefit, to the point at which they will actively deprive people who probably do deserve that benefit on the chance that they might not.

I see it repeated, again and again, dozens of times.  I see people who want to drug-test welfare recipients.  Never mind that the rate of drug use among welfare recipients is far lower than the general population; never mind that most beneficiaries of welfare are children; never mind that it costs more to drug-test welfare recipients than we will ever save by denying welfare to people who test positive for drugs.

I see people who want to prevent insurance companies from paying for birth control pills. "I shouldn't have to pay for other people to have sex." Indeed not, not when you obviously aren't getting any yourself.

I see people who want to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, because even though doing so will have NOTHING whatsoever to do with that person's own marriage, it offends their religious sensibilities and therefore must be stopped.

And now we see people for whom the most urgent national priority is making sure that the people who get a tax-credit subsidy for their health insurance actually deserve it, to the penny.

Maybe you do see somebody ahead of you in line at the grocery store, who's on public assistance.  Maybe they do have three or four kids.  And maybe they are buying a steak and a bottle of wine.  But maybe the steak is from the "reduced" rack, the wine is a $4 screw-top, and they are celebrating an anniversary by trying to hold onto just a little bit of their humanity in a tough time.

The world would be better off if we would all tend our own gardens just a little more, and have a little more faith in our fellow human beings.  It costs nothing of value to do that, but a little piece of you dies when you don't.  There will always be people who game the system, but almost everybody who receives the meager public assistance that's available gets it because it's their last hope. 

But so it goes with Obamacare.  It will now be a little bit more of a hassle to get your tax credit, in an as-yet-determined way, that increases the cost of the program for virtually no marginal benefit, but damn, if we didn't keep Joe Q. Undeserving from getting a couple of extra dollars off his health insurance premium that he'd have to pay back next year anyway.

And for that the Republicans shut the government down for 16 days and drove us to the brink of a debt default?

Was it worth it?

No comments:

Post a Comment