Nancy Pelosi, while she was still speaker of the House and ramrodding the Affordable Health Care Act, famously said that it would be necessary to pass the legislation in order to find out what was in it. The bill was very long, you know, with lots of lawyerly locutions that would be deconstructed when the plan came into contact with the real world.So much has happened since then. Some of what was learned was not pleasing to influential constituencies. So the law was jury-rigged. But not by that messy congressional apparatus. It was done administratively, through waivers and similar devices. In one case, the administration simply put enforcement of a provision known as the "employer mandate" off for a year in spite of the clear language of the law. Then, there is another provision in the law, the intent of which was to make sure that the people in Washington who wrote it and voted on it would be subject to it. Just like the ordinary people out there.With the deadline for enforcement fast approaching, the calls from Capitol Hill to "do something" became more insistent until, at last, a solution was arrived at--one by which members of the political class, as the Wall Street Journal notes on its editorial page, "create a special exemption for themselves from the ObamaCare health coverage that everybody else is mandated to buy."
As special deals and carve-outs go, this one is fairly small potatoes. Not that many people work on Capitol Hill. Too many, for certain, but their numbers are dwarfed, in orders of magnitude, by the number who belong to public sector unions around the country. And there is a provision of Obamacare–a tax on their very generous health care plans–that is known as the "Cadillac tax." Only, it isn't the plutocrats who are unhappy with the tax and hope to find an escape before it is implemented in 2018. As Kate Taylor writes in the New York Times,
Cities including New York and Boston, and school districts from Westchester County, N.Y., to Orange County, Calif., are warning unions that if they cannot figure out how to rein in health care costs now, the price when the tax goes into effect will be steep, threatening raises and even jobs.
It doesn't seem likely that the unions and their members will submit meekly to the imposition of the tax. But as we are reminded, over and over, the Affordable Care Act is the law. On recent experience, that shouldn't pose much of a problem.