Friday, May 17, 2013

Reason #289: Ways and Means

Not a lot of good in the last week of political news, so I thought this would be an appropriate time to talk about the House Ways and Means Committee, since we'll be seeing a lot of them as the current IRS scandal drags on.

Ways and Means, a term that dates back to the British Parliament, is the committee responsible for taxation and revenue, an exceptionally broad jurisdiction that includes programs like Social Security, Medicare, welfare and unemployment, and for some reason, adoption and foster care. As such, they have their fingers in a lot of pies, and appointment to the committee is often a fast track to either fame or infamy, as the sharp-looking fellow above this post can tell you.

Obamacare in particular, while generally under the purview of Health and Human Services, has an interesting relationship with Ways and Means--all laws related to taxation are supposed to start there, but because the Affordable Care Act wasn't conceived as a tax, it took on its final form in the Senate prior to being approved by the House. So far so good, but then last summer the Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional because it could be interpreted as a tax, which falls under the purview of Ways and Means, even though Ways and Means didn't write the law--the Senate did.

Confusing, huh? But it's still better than thinking about this week.

Further Reading

Wikipedia - United States House Committee on Ways and Means

Wikipedia - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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