You know, if I didn’t know better I’d think that there’s something fundamentally wrong with Obamacare. But that’s just crazy talk, right? …Right:
Consumers who received too much in federal tax credits when buying insurance on the health law’s marketplaces last year got a reprieve of sorts from the Internal Revenue Service this week. Although they still have to repay some or all of the excess subsidies, the IRS won’t ding them with a late payment penalty if they don’t repay it by the April 15 tax deadline.
“They’re trying to make this work,” says Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who’s an expert on the health law.
They’re certainly trying, at least.
More via Megan McArdle, who took the time to walk through what this ruling does and does not do. Essentially, it’s a ‘temporary’ promise to not hit delinquent taxpayers with the most onerous, soul-sucking penalties for not ‘paying back’ their ‘excess subsidies’ (scare quotes because… I feel like it, honestly): Megan thinks that it’s about as temporary as any other temporary government ruling, and I agree*. Which still means that partisan Democrats might as well stop pretending that Obamacare is going to pay for itself. It never was, even if the subsidy amounts were calibrated on a regular basis. Now that they’re not, Obamacare is officially a drain on the treasury.
Bear in mind that people will still be racking up interest on their accounts, mind you. This problem only partially lets the administration kick the can down the road; the basic problem (which is that Obamacare is a hot mess of a law that cannot do the things that the Democrats promised that it could do) remains. The effects on this for the next election (there’s always a next election, of course)… well, it depends. At the very least, all of this certainly argues that we invoke the Gandalf Option** on Obamacare. Painful, sure, but so is an inflamed gallbladder. Trust me on this one…
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I wonder how other taxpayers will feel to hear that the aforementioned onerous, soul-sucking penalties will not be imposed in an egalitarian fashion. And I wonder how many of those taxpayers have expensive lawyers on retainer. Should be fun to find out!
**”He is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind. That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not yet entered into his darkest dream.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers.