The focus on “income verification” in the Affordable Care Act is especially cynical. It became a Republican shibboleth earlier this year, possibly because its fans knew that implementing such a system fully was practically impossible, as it requires sophisticated computer matching of government income data with applications for subsidies. The rule is part of the act, but the government was not planning to implement it until 2015.
Until then, the government said it would rely on the honor system and voluntary compliance, backed up by subsequent audits. Critics of Obamacare wring their hands over this, as though most of our financial reporting to the government isn’t already based on the honor system. (Or do you get audited by the IRS every year?)
Ever heard of withholding, Hiltzik? This is hardly an unbridled “honor system.”
If you give people the chance to defraud the government, they will defraud the government. Look at what happened with the EBT card glitch in Louisiana.
They seem to think that the availability of subsidies will set off a torrent of fraud, because of course it’s worth facing $25,000 in statutory penalties in order to falsify documents to get a few hundred dollars a month in subsidies.
Hiltzik seems to think that the lack of verification will not set off a torrent of fraud, because criminals are always rational; thus, the existence of criminal penalties means there will be no crime.
Nice theory. Too bad reality proves it’s wrong.