I wrote before about how the Democrats are increasingly frightened of the angry mob that might rise against them once the non-coverage penalties in Obamacare start to be enforced. People who didn’t obey the mandate in 2014 will likely find themselves with smaller refunds than expected, or maybe even owing Uncle Sam. That makes for unhappy voters, who will be looking for someone to hurt. Probably the congresscritters (All Democrats) who voted for Obamacare.
But wait! There’s more!
There’s another problem. The administration’s enrollment period just ended on February 15. So if people haven’t signed up for Obamacare already, they’ll be stuck paying the higher penalty for 2015.
By the way, Democrats don’t like to call the Obamacare penalty a penalty; its official name is the Shared Responsibility Payment. But the fact is, the lawmakers’ intent in levying the fines was to make it so painful for the average American to ignore Obamacare that he or she will ultimately knuckle under and do as instructed.
Except that it’s easier to inflict theoretical pain than actual pain. Tax filing season is enlightening many Americans for the first time about the “mechanics involved” in Obamacare’s fee structure, Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on December 29. “Many taxpayers will see the financial consequences of their decision not to enroll in health insurance for the first time when they make the Shared Responsibility Payment.”
And the penalties get even larger in 2016 for those recalcitrant serfs who still refuse to obey their Betters in DC. Estimates of those range from 3-6 million people.
So Congressmen Doggett, Levin, and “Baghdad Jim” McDermott implored the administration to create a supplemental “open enrollment period” so people who didn’t buy by the 15th could do so and escape the 2015 “Shared Responsibility Payment.” And so the Democrats could escape the angry mob. This exemption comes with a stringent qualification standard, however: You have to be willing to say “I didn’t know,” and you will be magically cleansed of your sins.
The administration has done this before, granting exemptions and delays ex machina for the employer mandate with no legal authority to do so. (The ACA is very clear about its deadlines.) Now it’s an extension for open enrollment. Let’s be frank: none of these illegal waivers were granted because of sympathy for the victims. Their sole purpose is to help Democrats avoid the consequences of ramming this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law down the throat of a nation that didn’t want it. By delaying the mandates and punishments past election day or simply granting exemptions to the latest group to complain (Oh wait! Here’s another enrollment period!), they hope to avoid the electoral whipping they so richly deserve.
That didn’t work in 2010 or 2014. Per Byron York again, no matter how it’s delayed, the voters hate the individual mandate:
The individual mandate has always been extremely unpopular. In December 2014, just a couple of months ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 64 percent of those surveyed don’t like the mandate. The level of disapproval has been pretty consistent since the law was passed.
And there’s very little chance the individual mandate’s approval numbers will improve, now that millions of Americans are getting a taste of what it really means. They’re learning an essential truth of Obamacare, which is that if you don’t sign up, the IRS will make you pay.
It’s not going to work for them in 2016, either.
PS: Oh, and since we’re talking about angry mobs, let us not forget the IRS sending the wrong tax information to nearly 1,000,000 people receiving Obamacare subsidies.