Hank  Adler

"Understand – raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up" President Obama, July, 2011

We, of course, face another debt limit battle early in 2014.

Perhaps a good place to start for the President is to propose reductions in Federal spending equal to the bills that he has "racked up". His contribution to the deficit has been through executive orders, incompetent management by leaders of the executive branch (Obamacare & Energy) and other decisions that strain any reasonable interpretation of allowable executive powers under the Constitution of the United States.

On the Obamacare front, the deferral of the employer mandate and now the deferral of at least a significant portion of the individual mandate will cost Treasury billions of dollars in 2014 and 2015. These actions were not authorized, approved or even discussed by Congress and the Internal Revenue Code, which is the law, remains unchanged. In reality, the elimination of these taxes (determined to be taxes by the Supreme Court) would be ruled unconstitutional before any Federal judge if 'standing' within a Federal Court was available for any citizen to challenge these actions of the President.

Continuing on the Obamacare front, the inability of the Treasury to document and monitor the legal appropriateness of insurance subsidies will cost the Treasury many more billions. The politically incented exemptions granted by HHS will drive up the deficit; the subsidies necessary to keep the insurance companies in business after the demographic reality of the Obamacare signups becomes reality could cost in the tens of billions. And of course, this website fiasco appears to be costing billions as well. These costs come from the White House, not Congress.

Another cost of Obamacare that has escaped discussion to date is the deductibility of medical expenses on individual tax returns. As the result of the regulations written by HHS, insurance costs for 2014 have exploded along with deductibles required before insurance company reimbursements kick in. This will increase medical costs for most insured individuals by thousands. The good and the bad here is that individuals receive tax deductions for medical expenses (including medical insurance) exceeding ten percent of adjusted gross income. This deduction, previously not often available because medical expenses were almost always less than ten percent, will impact perhaps millions more tax returns in 2014 and forward a significant cost to Treasury.

Hank Adler

Hank Adler is an Assistant Professor at Chapman University.

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