Just about everyone has an opinion on President Obama's health care legislation. Some say it will bankrupt our nation. Others say the health care plan is badly needed. Whatever your opinion on the substance of the bill, I say that 99.9999% of Americans have not even read the bill. Unfortunately, the only thing I know about the bill is what I hear in sound bites and what I read in ads. I also know the legislation is responsible for killing lots of trees.
The health care bill weighs in at 20 lbs and 1,990 pages. That's far more pages than contained in the King's James version of the Holy Bible or in Tolstoy's War and Peace. The legislation is so large that some lawmakers are forced to wheel it around Congress on a dolly.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, one Congressman has been carting it around in a grocery bag. Security was called when the bag was left on the floor of Congress - the bag and its contents were so large that Congressional staff thought it was a suspicious package possibly containing a bomb.
Since we live in the age of technology, perhaps it is better for lawmakers and the interested public to simply download a copy. That doesn't work well either. According to the same WSJ article, James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, claims his computer crashed twice when trying to download a copy of the bill. A service that converts written bills into voice versions for the sight impaired reportedly had to round up 120 voice actors just to read the bill.
Health care legislation is important. Like the tax code or the federal budget, this legislation affects all of us. If we will not be receiving benefits under the plan we will paying for them. Thinking that the bill could be reduced to just a few pages is foolish. A bill so large that it requires a dolly to wheel around or over a 100 volunteers to orally translate it, however, is equally ridiculous.
As a democracy, we encourage Americans to become more active in legislative debate and voice their opinions. On health care, they have. When legislation is so complex and so large, however, the only ones who really seem to understand what is going on are the lawyers, lobbyists and the bureaucrats. Unfortunately, the bureaucrats often get it wrong.
As a prosecutor and now in recent years, a defense attorney, I have never met a single IRS employee that has read the entire tax code. Forget the regulations (those number over 100,000 pages); I have not found one single IRS employee that has even read the law.
Until we simplify our laws and write them in plain language, many Americans are going to find themselves charged with crimes they did not even know existed. At my last count, there were over 3,500 criminal laws on the books and when you add the regulations into the mix (violating regulations is itself often a crime) the number is so large that no one seems to know exactly how many laws exist with potential criminal liability.
Certainly, many of our laws involve simple common sense. Take a life or throw a bomb and you are going to jail. In the area of commerce and taxes, however, the distinction between what is legal and what is not is often murky. Or it makes no sense.
MahanyLaw assists folks throughout the United States with tax compliance issues and aggressive white collar and criminal tax defense. From our offices in Milwaukee, California and Portland, we can help you assess exposure, come into compliance or protect your liberty if charged with a crime. We defend those accused of money laundering, tax evasion, failure to file tax returns, fraud and conspiracy. We are ready to help immediately. Call us 414.704.6731