Cheatin’ Words

I know that national officials from all political parties have lied and cheated forever, but I became acutely aware of it with Bill Clinton… and I’ve been unable to ignore it since…

Slick Willie seemed to be a decent president, but not much of a person. There was that Gennifer Flowers affair, and then the Paula Jones scandal. Okay, that’s his personal life. I understand he can do what he wants, when he wants, to whomever he wants, but I draw the line at lying about it.

When he sat on that witness stand, having sworn to tell the truth, and then lied about having “sexual relations with that woman,” well that just turned him into the bad guy in my books.

If he was willing to lie about something so trivial compared to his daily duties as president, even when he specifically swore to tell the truth, what else would he lie about?

Bill Clinton is smart, well read and powerful.

He is also untrustworthy and obviously willing to lie to save his own skin.

However, he did not just lie. He twisted words to rationalize his approach. Clinton gave us the famous: “It depends on what ‘is’ is,” statement.

Now, we get the latest installment of politicians lying for their own benefit…

Congress sort of passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I say “sort of” because it was attached to a budget reconciliation bill between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The thing about budget reconciliations is that, by law, they can’t contain new taxes. This is so that Congress can pass them with a simple majority.

Now, the act mandates that individuals buy insurance or face a penalty.

When the budget reconciliation manoeuver was used to pass the act, congressional leaders told the nation this penalty was not a tax because, if it was, it could not be part of the budget reconciliation. Instead, we were told, it was a requirement allowed under the interstate commerce clause.

However, when the act went before the Supreme Court, the legislation was upheld under Congress’ ability to tax, and specifically NOT allowed as part of governing interstate commerce. From this standpoint, the law is illegal because it was not passed as a tax.

There was our lovely Congress, parsing words to get what they wanted.

Of course, it didn’t stop there…

A provision of the act states that congressmen and their aides must get insurance through the exchanges. What was NOT addressed is how the federal government is supposed to provide congressmen and the other employees with the subsidy they currently enjoy for their health care.

There is no mechanism for an employer to pay for part of an insurance premium obtained on a health exchange. This was obviously an oversight, but when you pass a 2,000-page bill in less than a day and the congressional leadership says: “You have to pass it to see what’s in it,” then you can expect some sloppiness.

So thousands of people connected to Congress just lost their health care subsidy.

It seems sort of fitting.

But don’t weep for them.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) just came along to save the day. This administrative office has pointed out that the amendment bringing these employees under the health exchanges starts with the phrase: “Notwithstanding any other provision of the law…”

Anyone in business recognizes the word “notwithstanding” to mean that even if something else in a contract says differently, this one thing still applies. Whatever comes after the “notwithstanding” phrase takes precedence. In this case, it would be that no matter what else is out there in the law, members of Congress and covered staff must use the health exchanges created by the new act.

And here is where words are twisted… yet again.

The OPM claims the word “notwithstanding” in this case means the exact opposite. That the congressmen and covered staff are part of the exchange UNLESS some other law, somewhere else, says differently.

Really?

At least Bill Clinton put some effort into his lies.

It’s amazing how Congress and the reigning governing administration can always find a way to justify their own actions and twist the law in their favor, no matter what the original intent.

When citizens try to do that, they’re called out as traitors for not paying their fair share of taxes, and the IRS harasses them.

Somewhere back in my memory, I recall that our government is supposed to be “by the people and for the people.” I’m sure if I asked my congressman, she’d correct me because obviously the phrase is: “By some people, for some people.”

The rest of us are just here to pay for it.

Rodney

 

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About Author

Rodney Johnson works closely with Harry Dent to study how people spend their money as they go through predictable stages of life, how that spending drives our economy and how you can use this information to invest successfully in any market. Rodney began his career in financial services on Wall Street in the 1980s with Thomson McKinnon and then Prudential Securities. He started working on projects with Harry in the mid-1990s. He’s a regular guest on several radio programs such as America’s Wealth Management, Savvy Investor Radio, and has been featured on CNBC, Fox News and Fox Business’s “America’s Nightly Scorecard, where he discusses economic trends ranging from the price of oil to the direction of the U.S. economy. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University.