For years, my ex-wife and I have taken different approaches to raising our children — our son in particular.
In short, we somehow fell into the stereotypical familiar gender roles, with her yelling and threatening punishment at every transgression yet rarely following through.
I, on the other hand, would fire a single warning shot but enforcing whatever punishment that was threatened.
(And, for the record, as New Age-y as it sounds, we weren’t corporal punishment parents. Not that I’m necessarily against it, but we honestly never had to go that far.)
You could probably guess how that all turned out … but that’s what crossed my mind when I saw the latest Congressional Budget Office report. According to the tea leaf readers there, roughly 90 percent of the 30 million or so Americans still uninsured by 2016 won’t have to pay a penalty.
(Keep in mind, that’s the said penalty “for each uninsured adult, which will rise from $95 in 2014 to $695 in 2016 and be indexed to inflation thereafter … or a percentage of a household’s adjusted gross income in excess of the threshold for mandatory tax-filing, which will rise from 1.0 percent in 2014 to 2.5 percent in 2016 and subsequent years. For fiscal years 2015 to 2024, CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that such payments will total $46 billion.”)
Even at that rate, the CBO expects to generate roughly $4 billion in penalties annually, hardly a drop in the bucket compared to all the cash we’ll be shelling out each year by then.
So what are all these exemptions? Well, if you’re an unauthorized immigrant, you’re off the hook — thank God for the emergency room. Oh, and if you don’t make enough to actually file taxes, you get a pass, too. And if you’re either in the joint (free health care, anyway) or a Native American, you get a “Get out of mandate free card,” too.
But I guess my favorite part is this: “Of the remaining 7 million uninsured people, CBO and JCT estimate that some will be granted exemptions from the penalty because of hardship or for other reasons.” Some, of course, meaning almost half.
And we wonder why no one takes this government — or this law — seriously. All you have to do these days is claim hardship or file a lawsuit, and just like that, you’re off the hook.
Think I’ll try that next week with my boss. Think I’ll get a waiver if I tell her the Jeep’s not running? Maybe I can just claim a hardship exemption, not do anything and still collect my paycheck?
Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.
By the way, it’s interesting this lack of accountability is something that plagues even the next generation — consumer-driven — market. It’s always the employer’s fault, the uncooperative care provider or (of course) those evil insurance carriers. Heaven forbid consumers should have to take responsibility for their own behaviors. But, when they’re just following the example they’re shown, can we really blame them?