The Edmond Sun

Opinion

June 29, 2012

'Bait and switch' may be biggest U.S. tax hike

EDMOND — According to legend, Shi Huangdi, the first Emperor of China, was obsessed with immortality. He couldn’t conceive of a world deprived of his imperial presence. Consequently, his minions scoured the world in search of the elixir of immortality. Unfortunately for the Emperor, the elixir was never found. He died while on a journey two months distant from his capitol. His courtiers feared that news of the Emperor’s death would spark unrest throughout the empire. They hatched a plan to conceal Shi Huangdi death until they returned to the capitol to see a new emperor safely enthroned.

Problem was, on a two-month return trip, the Emperor’s body was bound to “ripen.” Someone was apt to suspect the truth. These devious courtiers came up with a crafty device to keep the Emperor’s subjects in the dark. They loaded two carts with rotting fish; one before the royal convoy, the other at the rear. The stench of these decoys overpowered the decaying remains of Shi Huangdi. The deceit worked. By the time the truth emerged, the new regime was in place and the oppressed subjects were stuck with it.

The moral of the story is this: If the emperor’s caravan smells like a load of rotting fish, somebody’s hiding something.

This story was on my mind this week as I followed the news coverage of the Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of “The Affordable Health Care Act” — also known as “AHA” or “Obamacare.”

By now, the nation knows the court determined Obamacare is a constitutional exercise of congressional taxing authority.

In the president’s post-decision remarks, he encouraged all Americans to let bygones be bygones. He urged us all to resist the temptation to “rehash” the debates leading up to the statute’s passage. He assured us we would all look back in years to come and be thankful for this groundbreaking legislation.

But here’s the problem. Something still smells funny and the president, so far, has done nothing to clear the air. The original legislative package was deceptively portrayed by the president and his courtiers. In fairness, now that the truth about the content is exposed, shouldn’t we take another look? Or are we, like Shi Huangdi’s disgusted subjects, stuck with it?

The American public was told — unequivocally — that Obamacare was not a tax increase. In an interview on nationwide television, President Obama insisted, somewhat angrily, that “I absolutely reject that notion.” He insisted again and again in interviews and addresses to Congress that he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class by “one dime.” In the public campaign leading up to the legislative vote, the White House website proclaimed “What President Obama is proposing is not a tax, but a requirement to comply with the law … .” When Jeff Zients, then acting White House budget director, appeared before Congress, he was asked whether the president’s proposed legislation was a tax. He replied “No.”

When Health and Human Services Secretary Sibelius appeared before Congress, she was asked to explain the administration’s position as there were conflicting signals coming from the White House. She responded by saying “It operates in the same way as a tax would operate, but it is not, per se, a tax.”

But in the course of litigation over the constitutionality of the act, the Obama administration took both positions — “It is a tax, it isn’t a tax.” Justice Samuel Alito seemed to indicate some frustration with the plastic nature of the administration’s position by observing, “Today you are arguing that the penalty is not a tax … . Tomorrow you’re going to be back and you’ll be arguing that the penalty is a tax.”

Now we know. It is, undeniably, a tax. In fact, with all the figuring and refiguring concerning the ultimate cost of Obamacare, this may turn out to be one of the largest tax increases in the history of this nation.

Ordinarily, once the Supreme Court has spoken, the litigated issue is put to rest — at least temporarily. In this case, however, the American taxpayer is the victim of one of the most blatant “bait and switch” schemes in history. No one has a crystal ball, of course, but it is highly unlikely this act would have passed if those legislators voting for it had come clean with their constituents.

Luckily, our system works. The Supreme Court has thrown the issue back in the lap of the voting public. As we approach the upcoming election, we have clear choices. Will we call the deceivers to account? Or will we shrug it off as business as usual? Personally, I could use some fresh air. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is an Edmond resident and retired attorney.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

Poll

If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
Undecided
     View Results