More ObamaCare Delays Won’t Save Dems
Jonathan S. Tobin | @tobincommentary 02.10.2014 - 8:00 PM
From its inception, the strategy behind the Obama administration’s implementation of ObamaCare has been simple: to frontload the benefits and postpone the pain and costs of this massive government intrusion into the private sector for as long as possible. This deceitful approach enabled President Obama run for reelection in 2012 on the spurious promise of extending insurance coverage to the poor and those with pre-existing conditions without being held accountable for the problems with the law that would only become apparent in his second term. Over the course of the last year, as the president’s signature accomplishment debuted with a disastrous rollout, the administration has retreated bit by bit from its insistence on implementing the entire unwieldy and gargantuan edifice on the American people immediately after Obama was safely ensconced in his second term. A dysfunctional website and the president’s broken promises about patients being able to keep their coverage and their doctors has led to the law being dismantled piece by piece as various elements were delayed. Today, yet another element of the law was similarly postponed, by executive order. As the New York Times reports:
The Obama administration announced Monday that it would again delay enforcement of a federal requirement for certain employers to provide health insurance to employees, giving medium-size companies extra time to comply. The “employer mandate,” which had already been delayed to Jan. 1, 2015, will now be phased-in beyond that date for some businesses with more than 50 employees.
The motivation for this latest delay is transparently political. By delaying yet one more element of the law until after the midterm elections, the administration hopes to save some faltering Democratic red-state incumbents who, unlike the president, are faced with the difficult task of running for reelection in the wake of the ObamaCare rollout. Though the pain of the health-care law is already being felt by millions of Americans who have lost their coverage and are facing higher costs for insurance that fails to meet their needs, Democrats are trying to do anything they can to put off the devastating impact the law will have on employers and, by extension, the economy.
But the problem here is not only the flagrantly political nature of this decision. Rather, it is the spectacle of a law being stretched to the breaking point by an administration that thinks it can selectively cherry-pick what parts of the law it will enforce. With ObamaCare enrollment numbers already falling millions short of what they would have to be for the law to be cost-effective, no amount of playing fast and loose with enforcement can disguise the fact that the scheme appears to be headed for collapse.
The list of ObamaCare delays was already impressive when I noted the announcement in December that those whose coverage was cancelled would not face penalties for not buying ObamaCare for a year:
On July 2, the White House abruptly announced a one-year delay, until 2015, in a provision that requires larger employers to offer coverage to their workers or pay penalties.
On Nov. 27, it deferred a major element of the law that would allow small businesses to buy insurance online for their employees through the federal exchange.
Earlier, in April, the administration said that the federal exchange would not offer employees of a small business the opportunity to choose from multiple health plans in 2014.
And in October 2011, the administration scrapped a long-term care insurance program created by the new law, saying it was too costly and would not work.
Seen in totality, it appears that ObamaCare is unraveling like a cheap sweater. But though the administration is trying to limit the number of those who are inconvenienced or hurt by the law, this latest decision is one more shred of evidence that proves the assumptions about the law’s popularity were completely unfounded. Democrats assumed that once the law began to be implemented the benefits it distributed would quickly make it as beloved as Social Security or Medicare. But it is now abundantly clear that the numbers of ObamaCare losers may well equal or exceed the total of those who will benefit from it. No amount of lawlessness on the part of a president who lacks the constitutional power to enforce only the laws or the parts of laws that he likes can conceal the enormity of the ObamaCare fiasco.
Unfortunately for the president and Democratic incumbents, the sheer number of ObamaCare exemptions and delays has grown to the point where it is no longer possible to pretend that the only problem with the law was a glitch-ridden website or Republican obstructionism. No matter how many of its ill-conceived moving parts the presidential orders say need not be implemented before November, the accumulated weight of its failure may prove too heavy a burden for Democrats who must answer to the electorate for their votes to shove this monstrosity down the collective throat of the American people.