That rattling sound you hear, coming from Washington, D.C., is the noise of politicians busy kicking cans down the road. Seemingly unable to do the right, smart thing on scores of issues, they compromise frequently by merely postponing action.
Part of the complex battle over avoiding a federal government “shutdown” this weekend involves two idiotic provisions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Many Obamacare provisions make health care not as affordable for millions of Americans. One part of the ACA law sets an excise tax on medical devices. Obviously, consumers using such equipment would pay the tab.
Another ACA provision involves taxing health insurance programs provided by some employers, on the grounds that they are too generous. So, Washington’s answer to companies that try to do nice things for their employees, in the form of good health insurance, is to levy a new tax on the benefits.
To avoid shutting down some non-essential functions of government this weekend, Congress needed to pass a spending bill by the end of the day Friday. Conservatives want the measure to kill both the medical device and employer-provided health insurance taxes.
That did not happen.
Liberals are blocking the way. Only a two-year delay in collecting the taxes is acceptable, they insist.
If lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives go along, they will be merely kicking the can down the road, to be dealt with in two years.
Why not just rescind the taxes now? Why is it so difficult in Washington to do the right thing?