Professional Obfuscation

November 20, 2014

Inside Insight

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ariail Professional ObfuscationLast year, as all the world now knows, onetime Obama advisor Jonathan Gruber stated what many people suspected about the Affordable Care Act – that it was made deliberately confusing for political purposes. The strategy of using complicated legislation to pass measures that would not otherwise pass is one we’re used to in South Carolina. Take last year’s omnibus ethics bill. When it began life, tiny provisions tucked away in the 35-page bill would have decriminalized the ethics code and forced anyone wishing to testify before legislative committees to register as lobbyists. Later, after the bill had been rewritten several times, equally obscure provisions would have loosened restrictions on campaign spending accounts, allowed public officials to lobby, and forced non-political groups to disclose their donors for the “offense” of criticizing political candidates by name.

Legislative leaders knew they could never pass these measures in freestanding bills. Who would vote for a bll that had as its stated purpose the decriminalization of the ethics code or the loosening of laws governing what you can use campaign money for? No one. So what do you do? Well, as Jonathan Gruber has now famously said, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”