Federal Tax Code and Regulations Now Exceed 10 Million Words in Length 

In 1955, the federal tax code and regulations together totaled 1.4 million words. Since then, the combined length has increased more than seven fold, growing at a pace of 144,500 words per year.

 reports: The length of the federal tax code and regulations now exceed 10 million words, according to a report from the Tax Foundation.

“The American tax code is intentionally complex—it’s Washington’s safe haven for carve-outs, loopholes, and subsidies for special interests.”

According to the report, the federal tax code is 2,412,000 words long, and federal tax regulations are 7,655,000 words long.

“America’s tax code will continue to impede growth and opportunity until policy leaders prioritize reform and face cronyism head-on.”

— Andy Koenig, Freedom Partners’ senior policy analyst

In 1955, the federal tax code and regulations together totaled 1.4 million words. Since then, the combined length has increased more than seven fold, growing at a pace of 144,500 words per year.

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According to the Tax Foundation, the length of the tax code correlates with the complexity of the federal tax system and the difficulties faced by Americans trying to file their taxes.

“The American tax code is intentionally complex—it’s Washington’s safe haven for carve-outs, loopholes, and subsidies for special interests,” said Andy Koenig, Freedom Partners’ senior policy analyst.  Read the rest of this entry »


Politicians Win, Public Loses: Supreme Court Upholds Obama’s Health-Law Subsidies

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Presidential Legacy Preserved, Achievement Enshrined: After Trash-Talking Supreme Court and Insulting its Integrity, Obama Reverses Course, Celebrates Wisdom of Court

WASHINGTON — Brent Kendall and Louise Randofsky report: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Obama administration can continue to subsidize health-insurance purchases by lower-income Americans across the country, a decision that preserves a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The ruling marks the second time President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement has survived a near-death experience in the courts, and leaves the law on a firmer footing for the remainder of his time in office.

The court ruled contested language in the 2010 health-care law allows the administration to offer subsidies in the form of tax credits to people in all states, including those who buy health coverage on the federal insurance site HealthCare.gov.

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Roughly 6.5 million Americans in around three dozen states stood to lose credits if the Supreme Court had ruled against the administration. The court was deciding whether the tax credits could only go to people in the minority of states running their own online insurance marketplaces, where people compare policies and apply for coverage.

At issue was language in the Affordable Care Act that says insurance subsidies are available for coverage purchased on an insurance-exchange “established by the state.”

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The Obama administration argued the entire structure and design of the law made clear its purpose was to extend affordable coverage nationwide.

[Read full text here, at WSJ]

Challengers who sued the administration—four residents of Virginia—argued the wording of the law authorized insurance subsidies only when an individual buys coverage on a state-run insurance site. Read the rest of this entry »


John Davidson: King v. Burwell Reveals The Threat Of The Administrative State

(Photo: Karen Bleier, AFP Getty Images)

What happens to the subsidies should not be the court’s concern. The only question that matters in King is whether the administration used the IRS to rewrite a law Congress passed

John Davidson writes: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in what is probably one of the most straightforward questions of statutory interpretation ever to come before the court.

“Over and over, the law says premium subsidies are only to be disbursed ‘through an Exchange established by the State.’ It says this nine times.”

At the heart of King v. Burwell is whether the text of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means what it says. Specifically, the case hinges on what the word “state” means. Does it mean one of the fifty states, or does it mean the states and the federal government?

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At issue are the tax credits (subsidies) the law doles out to help Americans pay for health insurance premiums sold through the exchanges. Over and over, the law says premium subsidies are only to be disbursed “through an Exchange established by the State.” It says this nine times.

“Their assumption was that states would set up the exchanges and federal subsidies would flow through them, as described in the law. When 37 states opted instead to let the federal government set up exchanges, it exposed the weakness of the law’s reliance on cooperative federalism.”

If Obamacare is to be faithfully executed, say the challengers in King, then federal subsidies for health insurance are not allowed in the 37 states that failed or refused to set up a state-based exchange and obamacare-design-250instead have federal “default” exchanges. Two different sections of the law authorize exchanges and distinguish in statute between an exchange a state has established (section 1311) and an exchange the Secretary of Health and Human Services has established in states that fail to create one (1321). Subsidies are available only to those who purchase coverage on a state-based—section 1311—exchange.

Cooperative Versus Competitive Federalism

Suffice to say that Obamacare’s exchanges are built on the idea of cooperative federalism: the federal government, unable to simply commandeer state agencies, invites states to implement federal policies in return for federal funding or favorable regulatory treatment.

States carry out a great many federal policies and programs using cooperative federalism, like Medicaid, Common Core, and a host of environmental regulations.

“It comes down to a question about the rule of law and whether, in an advanced administrative state, laws can have a fixed meaning.”

States carry out a great many federal policies and programs using this scheme, like Medicaid, Common Core, and a host of environmental regulations. Because Obamacare meddles so much with health insurance markets, which states traditionally regulated, it relies on the practice of cooperative federalism to an astonishing degree. Congress had hoped to induce states to cooperate by making subsidies contingent on states setting up their own exchanges—a policy proposition that, like Medicaid expansion, could bring millions or even billions of federal dollars into a state. At least, that’s what the Kingchallengers contend.

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That’s where Obamacare’s legislative history comes into play. When Senate Democrats passed the ACA in December 2010, they hadn’t a vote to spare. When Republican Scott Brown won a special election the very next month to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death, Senate Republicans gained enough votes to filibuster a conference report on the House and Senate bills. Congressional Democrats therefore had to resort to the budget reconciliation process to pass the final version of the law: they opted for an imperfect bill, one that didn’t go as far as many Democrats had originally wanted, instead of no bill at all.

Read the rest of this entry »


Democrats Run Away from Obamacare Penalty They Imposed

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Democrats don’t like to call the Obamacare penalty a penalty; its official name is the Shared Responsibility Payment. But the fact is, the lawmakers’ intent in levying the fines was to make it so painful for the average American to ignore Obamacare that he or she will ultimately knuckle under and do as instructed.

Byron Yorkyork writes: The Democrats who wrote and passed the Affordable Care Act were sure of two things: The law had to include a mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance, and it had to have an enforcement mechanism to make the mandate work. Enforcement has always been at the heart of Obamacare.

Now, though, enforcement time has come, and some Democrats are shying away from the coercive measures they themselves wrote into law.

China Currency

“Enforcement Has Always Been at the Heart of Obamacare”

The Internal Revenue Service is the enforcement arm of Obamacare, and with tax forms due April 15, Americans who did not purchase coverage and who have not received one of the many exemptions already offered by the administration are discovering they will have to pay a substantial fine. For a household with, say, no kids and two earners making $35,000 a piece, the fine will be $500, paid at tax time.

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“And there’s very little chance the individual mandate’s approval numbers will improve, now that millions of Americans are getting a taste of what it really means.”

That’s already a fact. What is particularly worrisome to Democrats now is that, as those taxpayers discover the penalty they owe, they will already be racking up a new, higher penalty for 2015. This year, the fine for not obeying Obamacare’s edict is $325 per adult, or two percent of income above the filing threshold, whichever is higher. So that couple making $35,000 a year each will have to pay $1,000.

There’s another problem. The administration’s enrollment period just ended on February 15. So if people haven’t signed up for Obamacare already, they’ll be stuck paying the higher penalty for 2015.

China Currency

“The individual mandate has always been extremely unpopular. In December 2014, just a couple of months ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 64 percent of those surveyed don’t like the mandate. The level of disapproval has been pretty consistent since the law was passed.”

By the way, Democrats don’t like to call the Obamacare penalty a penalty; its official name is the Shared Responsibility Payment. But the fact is, the lawmakers’ intent in levying the fines was to make it so painful for the average American to ignore Obamacare that he or she will ultimately knuckle under and do as instructed.

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Except that it’s easier to inflict theoretical pain than actual pain. Read the rest of this entry »


Transparency: Three Lies About Obamacare Jonathan Gruber Accidentally Revealed

Gruberology

1. The Individual Mandate ‘Is Absolutely Not a Tax Increase’

2. Congress Meant for Subsidies to Flow Through State-based and Federal Exchanges

3. Obamacare Will Make Health Insurance More Affordable

read it here…

The Federalist


Philip Klein: Obamacare Repeal is More Likely, and Now GOP Needs an Alternative

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Philip Klein writes:  This month, two developments have shaken the conventional wisdom that repealing President Obama’s healthcare law is an impossibility.

First, Republicans scored a historic election victory, not only taking control of the Senate but likely winning the most House seats since 1928 — the year before Ernest Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms.

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Second, the Supreme Court took up another case on Obamacare, and if the justices rule against the administration, it would force a re-opening of the law.

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“Benson’s fear is that if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration, whatever the merits of the decision, liberal media would portray it as a right-wing court ripping health insurance away from millions over a silly typo out of animosity for the poor. And if Republicans didn’t pass a simple fix to change the wording, they’d be accused of mass murder.”

This doesn’t even account for the recently released videos of one of Obamacare’s main architects, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, conceding that Democrats misled the public to get the legislation passed, benefiting from “the stupidity of the American voter.”

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“The problem for Republicans — which I tried to convey to Benson in a spirited exchange that followed — is that going along with such a “fix” would be rightly seen as a complete surrender by Republicans that would alienate conservatives and enshrine Obamacare forever.”

The prospects of repealing Obamacare can now be better described, in the words of Rocco Lampone in The Godfather Part II, as “difficult, not impossible.”

But the hope of repealing Obamacare, however remote, is all the more reason for Republicans to begin coalescing around a real alternative to the law.

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“That is why conservatives should push Republicans to have an alternative plan ready to pass should the Supreme Court strike down the federal subsidies — a decision that should come by late June. “

Due to their suspicions of Republicans, whenever anybody utters the phrases “Obamacare alternative” or “repeal and replace,” many conservatives tend to hear “Obamacare lite.”

However, not every alternative to Obamacare needs to be a watered-down version of the healthcare law. And in fact, it’s always worth keeping in mind that even before Obamacare, the United States did not have a free market healthcare system. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Federal Appeals Court Panel Says Most Obamacare Subsidies Illegal

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Crash and burn for Obamacare?

 reports: In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a top federal appeals court Tuesday said that billions of dollars worth of government subsidies that helped 4.7 million people buy insurance on obama-exec-oHealthCare.gov are not legal under the Affordable Care Act.

“Now, Obama and Company will look for John Roberts to pull their fat out of the fire again. I am afraid he will.”

— Wesley J. Smith

[Obamacare Fed Exchange Subsidies Fall]

In its decision, a three-judge panel said that such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov. Plaintiffs in the case known as Halbig v. Burwell argued that the ACA, as written, only allows that often-significant financial aid to be issued to people who bought insurance on a marketplace set up a state.

[Also see: Good News: Americans No Longer Required to Obey Laws, Regulations, or Court Decisions]

[White House on Obamacare Ruling: Letter of the Law Doesn’t Matter]

[See the court document here]

The decision is certain to be challenged by the Obama Administration, and does not immediately have the effect of law. But if it is ultimately upheld, it would cause insurance rates for those people who lost the subsidies to dramatically rise. Read the rest of this entry »


Who Should Pay for the Arts?

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Private support beats public subsidies

Jared Meyer writes:   Should the federal government subsidize the arts? Dancer Nora Younkin thinks so. In the Huffington Post recently, she argued that the societal benefits of arts such as dance are not only cultural and educational, but economic as well. “It is well documented that dance and the arts generate revenue for local economies,” she wrote. “The performing arts also create jobs. And I don’t mean just the jobs of dancemakers and performers. The technical crew, the artistic collaborators, the venues, the technical equipment rentals or purchases, the restaurant down the street from the venue, even the taxi driver that got you to a performance. Those are all real jobs from which people take home a paycheck and go on to spend buying groceries or clothes.” But assuming that all federal funding reaches struggling artists—and that art subsidies indeed “trickle down” to a local economy—is a mistake.

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Read the rest of this entry »


(OMG. WHO KNEW?) Subsidies for Electronic Medical Records Leads to Higher Medicare Bills

Government subsidies often produce unintended consequences

The latest example comes from the New York Times, which reports that federal subsidizes to encourage doctors and hospitals to use electronic billing and recording records are leading to larger Medicare bills.

That means that taxpayers are taking a double hit even though policymakers claimed that electronic record-keeping would make health care delivery more efficient, and thus less costly…

More >> via  Cato @ Liberty