The speaker was referring to insurance companies. This is a nice mix of “jump through hoops” (to complete or face many challenges to achieve something) and “red tape” (bureaucratic rules that are overly strict or tedious). Both expressions refer to a series of challenges or events, contributing to the confusion. “Cutting through red tape” is what the speaker really wants. A big thanks to John Kooser for uttering this one and sending it in.
It’s hard to keep track these days of all those bells, hoops, whistles, and hurdles. This gem was written in an email expressing frustration. It is a mash up of “jumping through hoops” (having to do extra things in order to do something you want) and “bells and whistles” (fancy add-ons or gadgets). Both phrases refer to “extra things” which I think is the cause of the conflation. Also, perhaps the writer had an image of a dog jumping through a hoop, and being trained by a whistle? A tip of the hat to Paula Fow Atchison, who saw this one and passed it on.