Wednesday, June 5, 2013

IRS, Obamacare, and Possible End of Unipartisanism
Because of its unipartisan origin and the vocal GOP opposition, Obamacare is starkly different from anything we have seen before.
Tevi Troy, “The Obamacare Blame Game, “ Commentary,  June,  2013
I trace the current toxic bipartisan blame game to March 23, 2010.  On that date,  the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, passed without a single GOP vote.  
That unipartisan, unilateral political act,  without a solitary vote from the opposition party, which effected every American in one way or another, was unprecedented.   So were the unipartisan political actions of the Democratic-controlled IRS, which reports to the White House.  The IRS  denied tax-exempt status to conservatives from 2010-2012, during two election cycles, raising the question whether the supposedly neutral IRS was objective or partisan.
Both acts – Obamacare and Denial of tax-except status to conservatives -  smacks of political arrogance and lack of political fairness.  The 155 visits to the White House  smells bad and demand explanation.  The GOP response, stonewalling Obamacare and tying  the IRS actions to the White House,  is considered by many  as equally arrogant and unfair.  

The attitudes of each political party shows contempt for the motives of the other side.   Both sides have poisoned, "frozen " is a better word,  the political well.  But both sides agree that punishing opponents by unilateral government actions questioning their patriotism religious beliefs, contents of their prayers, motives of their supporters, lists of their supporters, by intrusive and personal surveys is unfair and must stop.
Events since 2010 have further frozen the two parties into their respective positions. 
·         On the Democratic side,  the economic recovery have been tepid, with a 2.2% growth rate rather than the expected 4-5% as in 5 previous recession recoveries since World War II.  Furthermore,   unemployement has remained at record highs;  hiring has been depressed partly because of uncertainties about expenses of Obamacare plans ;  the cost of Obamacare, originally estimated at $884 billion,  has grown to a projected $2.7 trillion  one believes the minority report of the Senate Budget Committee;  and various polls show only a 35% overall approval of Obamacare with 54% favoring repeal or significant reform.  Democrats say GOP obstructionism and partisan underfunding are to blame for this lackluster performance.

·         Meanwhile the Republicans have criticized Obamacare at every turn, saying it is unworkable, overly bureaucratic,  and fraught with delays more than half of the time, while penalizing economic growth with a complex incomprehensible bill loaded with 20,000 pages of regulation.  In the 2010 midterms,   conservatives, led by Tea Party activists, flipped 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats.  That legislative defeat did not break the  political ice, merely hardened it,  nor did the June 2012 Supreme Court decision declaring the Individual Mandate constitutional but giving the States the option of opting out of Medicaid expansion – the heart and guts of Obamacare.
Which leads me to my thesis that the IRS scandal may be an unexpected opportunity to restore bipartisanship and government trust.  A half a loaf of bread is better than no loaf at all.  Democrats have the opportunity to retain the law, and to retain some of its positive elements  albeit in an altered state by compromising and lowering costs and by reorganizing the IRS to deliver impartial laws and be ferreting out its irresponsible leaders whoever they may be . 

Republicans have an opening whereby they can get certain things they want -  giving the States the flexibility  to administer their own Medicaid programs to fit their individual States’ population needs, which vary from State to State;  reducing overly generous federal subsidies of $89,600 to families of four up to 4 times the level of poverty; repealing the innovation-killing medical device tax; expanding and empowering Health Savings Accounts to lower health coverage expenses for businesses,  and giving market forces the room to innovate without burdening them with 20,000 pages of new regulations, penalties, fines, and mandates, enforced and overseen by 21,347 new IRS agents.

Tweet:   The public views Obamacare and the IRS scandal are unipartisan acts defying the public will. Now is the time to restore trust in government.


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