We closed for just another tax?

By Steve Estes

So. The rabid Republican leadership in Congress, not the majority, mind you, just the rabid leadership, which is actually the minority, figure that one out if you can, got its way and forced the federal government into a shutdown.

The shutdown came about because Republicans so despised healthcare for the masses that they were willing to sacrifice any economic recovery to make sure health care remained the privilege of the few.

We’ve heard rants from the Republican leadership for months that the Affordable Health Care Act is an unconstitutional tax, that the individual mandate forces Americans to pay for something they don’t want or need.

Our head spins at the ludicrous claims.

One thing the rabid tea party got right…the ACA did cost jobs. Around 800,000 federal employees are out of work today because of an attempt to change an existing law without going through the proper process.

And make no mistake. The ACA is the law of the land. And as such, the government has the obligation to support it, or change it. Unable to change it, rabid tea party representatives refused to sanction the good our government does and let the place shutter its doors.

But let’s examine for a moment the rabid tea party’s claim that ACA is an unconstitutional tax. By very broad definition, anything a governed group is forced to pay without option is a tax. We get that. We agree with that—the tax part—not the no option part. And, just as an aside, the ACA has been upheld by the highest court in the land.

So then we say that federal flood insurance is an unconstitutional tax.

Anyone in a flood zone that has to have a mortgage to buy a home, a mortgage from the private sector lenders, must purchase flood insurance in order to qualify.

Now many of those homeowners don’t need flood insurance, as many of those in America don’t need health insurance, they already have it or have made arrangements for it.

Many of those homeowners don’t want flood insurance. It costs too much and pays too little, and on the off chance that a flood strikes this community, as it has,the policy precludes payment for almost everything. And so do some Americans not want to pay for health insurance. It costs too much and pays too little.

In both those cases, many have made the decision that paying as they go is the cheaper of the alternatives.

The ACA came about because insured folks complained about footing the bill for the uninsured as they frequented emergency rooms and walked away from the bill.

Thus do those insured under the National Flood Insurance Program, under the umbrella of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, complain about all the FEMA money, paid by those with flood insurance, being used for those who get hit by tornadoes, drowned in dust bowls, run out by droughts, caving in to earthquakes.

Of course those who complain in either circumstance simply lack compassion,and we pity them more than lend them credence.

So yes, the ACA is a tax. Stipulated.

The ACA’s primary problem is that it stopped short of taxing everyone a proportionate share for health care.

That would have been the fairest way to go, but fair doesn’t enter the equation when the debate is fueled mostly by bigotry and financed by national insurance companies concerned only with protecting huge profits.

The cost to the US economy has been estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars per day for every day of the shutdown. It’s not only the federal employees that don’t get paid, it’s the gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, banks, and yes, insurance companies that won’t get paid because more than 800,000 people can no longer count on a paycheck.

And this so that an already funded program could launch on time, and continue unimpeded, while our rabid minority in government espoused the disaster-like qualities of a program about which we have no history on which to stand in judgment.

For a country that prides itself on its humanitarian endeavors, that puts itself out there as the best the free world has to offer, this is just plain, old ridiculous.

Pass a clean continuing resolution now. Fight about changing the law of the land tomorrow.

The only losers here are everyone in this great country.

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