This post on the Atlantic web site by Olga Khazan is insightful, though perhaps not the way she planned it.
Olga’s surely a liberal. But even the blind squirrel finds the occasional acorn. Her lede is that most uninsured folks don’t understand the Affordable Care Act. Her conclusion, based on such a stunning observation, is that we should work ever harder to convince them how supercalifragilisticexpialidocious it is.
I’d suggest approaching the issue from a different angle. Let’s suppose for a moment that the clearer and less ambiguous a law is, all else being equal, the more likely it is to be effective once enacted. In other words, those affected by it have a better idea of the benefits and risks it presents to them, they can make more reliable decisions on how to act, and the collective acts of the populace are more accurately predictable—allowing the framers of the law to tell ahead of time whether it will achieve its intended outcomes.
The ACA clearly fails this test. As one who spent numerous weeks in many of my MHA courses facing assignments focusing on one or another of its endless provisions, I can attest that leafing through it (assuming you can hold it in your hands) is akin to opening Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. Progressives dumped a boatload of old favorites into the bill, took a single-state experiment (that, on further review, is a blazing failure) and took it national, added a generous dollop of “The Secretary shall“s, and larded it with goodies like the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase to get it through the Senate. No wonder people can’t understand it!
My take, in general, is that an act of such complexity stands a good chance of being a bad law. That is a generality, ignoring right vs. left or other distinctions. But I believe it to have plenty of validity. It is distressing, by the way, that acts of Congress are becoming increasingly obtuse over time, regardless of who’s minding the House, the Senate, or the White House. We’re better off with slimmer, simpler statutes that are easily understandable by those of us who aren’t policy wonks in our specialty field (or lawyers…).
To paraphrase a remark I saw on Facebook today, where the object of comparison was not the ACA but the case being brought by Hobby Lobby to the Supreme Court on behalf of religious liberty, if you know who got kicked off DWTS but have no clue about Obamacare, you deserve the continued removal of your rights.
Now that’s clear and concise.