Never mind the cliff. Talk about much ado about nothing…

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And for any of you out there who actually found themselvessurprised by this short-sighted, one-sided solution, you simplyhaven't been paying attention. And don't be surprised again in acouple of months when we end up right back here. Or as onecongressman put it, all they managed to do was break down a singlefiscal cliff into a trio of smaller ones – never mind that despitethe deal, all they managed to do is essentially tax all of us more(via the payroll tax holiday expiration) while adding another $4trillion to the budget deficit, according to the CongressionalBudget Office.

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It is an excellent case study in federal backsliding as aneveryday way of doing business: yet another Medicare doc fix whenthe administration touted that reimbursement cut as a way of makingPPACA budget-neutral.

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It's also a great example of political sleight of hand. Whileall the talking heads chatter about the cliff, taxes and budgetcuts, other things are going on – and yeah some of it stems fromthe deal lawmakers struck to avoid the cliff, at least for now.

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But that's not today's topic. You can find the actual text ofthe cliff bargain – dubbed innocuously (and deceptively) enough asthe American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 – here, along with achecklist of how your own representatives voted. Do with it whatyou want. I'm tired of the contrived drama (debt ceiling snipingagain already?) and the utter void of actual solutions.

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In fact, I went over the cliff weeks ago, but the moment ofclarity struck New Year's morning as my oldest daughter and I droveto get donuts. My about-to-be 14-year-old asked me about the cliffand whether she should be worried (after asking me what it was inthe first place). I honestly didn't know what to say. Of course sheshould be worried, I thought reflexively, I have no doubt thisgeneration of leaders will continue to do just enough to just keeppassing the problem along. I still have hope that her generationjust might get it right. And that's what I told her, “I'm screwed,but you guys will get it right.”

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All that aside, what you might not have noticed was another oneof those arbitrary rulings by the Obama administration regardingaffordability. As if we needed another reminder how little of thePatient Protection and Affordable Care Act was actually writtendown when Congress passed it almost four years ago now.

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In short, once the mandate kicks in (one more year…) employersmust offer health insurance to employees and their dependents, butpenalties won't be based on coverage affordability. In short,employers still have to offer coverage, but it only has to beaffordable to the actual employee. Extended coverage could costyou. Of course, what's affordable depends on who you ask.

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