Treasury: Employers must “self-attest” that ObamaCare not behind staffing decisions – under penalty of perjury

posted at 12:41 pm on February 11, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Old and busted: Businesses will love ObamaCare for its cost savings in health care! New hotness: Businesses had better not make staffing decisions based on cost savings from ObamaCare-fueled price spikes! After its latest delay in implementing the employer mandate, the Obama administration rebuffed criticisms that the law incentivizes employers to shift to part-time work by announcing the Treasury Inquisition — ahem, excuse me, the Treasury Attestation Department:

The latest announcement comes after the administration heard from businesses about their concerns with the looming ObamaCare rules. However, the change is sure to raise more questions about the health and implementation of the law. Fewer workers getting insurance through their employers could mean more individuals on the ObamaCare exchanges seeking subsidized coverage, increasing the cost to taxpayers.

Some lawmakers, though, have claimed that the mere threat of the employer mandate is causing companies to shed full-time workers in the hope of keeping their staff size below 50 and avoiding the requirement.

Administration officials dispute that this is happening on any large scale. Further, Treasury officials said Monday that businesses will be told to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate. Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.

Officials stressed that the latest reprieve applies to a relatively small percentage of employers — albeit companies that employ millions of workers.

Er … exactly what gives Treasury the authority to demand that kind of pledge, anyway? The law only mandates that employers provide coverage for full-time employees, a status defined by working 30 or more hours a week. It doesn’t contain any authority for Treasury or anyone else to force current full-time employees to stay in that status, nor for the federal government to dictate ratios of full-time/part-time staff.

Gabriel Malor wondered the same thing:

The Obama administration is big on self-attestation, huh? Just ask the Little Sisters of the Poor. They’ve certainly gotten the “bully” part of the bully pulpit in mind these days at the White House.

This seems an opportune time to revisit F. A. Hayek and The Road to Serfdom about the nature of command economies, and the nature of governments that impose them. Hayek supported social insurance programs, but warned that crafting them or anything else in the nature of a command economy would not just guarantee economic failure, but increasing lawlessness, arbitrariness, and tyranny from the government that imposes it as it gets desperate to avoid failure. That cycle appears to be fast-tracked with ObamaCare at Treasury.

My friend Scott Johnson at Power Line recalls the argument well in a rebuttal of a recent column from E. J. Dionne:

As I say, I guess it’s too difficult to actually read Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, or his more complete Constitution of Liberty, to see what his argument actually was, so easier just to go with Judt’s comic book version instead.  In both of his great books, Hayek endorses the principle of social insurance (and even a mandate for everyone to buy health insurance—egad*), but is concerned with the tendency toward making social insurance programs into redistribution programs.  Wow—crazy stuff, I know.  But you can see that Judt’s formula that Hayek opposed “welfare policies of any sort” is flat wrong.

And is Hayek’s broader point that centralized economic planning would lead to tyrannical government really so far-fetched?  The linchpin of Hayek’s argument was that the plans and desires of the statists would require the undermining of the rule of law, because steadily increasing arbitrary power is necessary for their centralized schemes to work.  I wonder whether Dionne has checked in lately with the Little Sisters of the Poor?  Or has taken notice of the IRS harassment of groups opposed to Obama?  I wonder what he makes of Obama’s unilateral executive decisions simply to suspend parts of the health care law that are politically inconvenient?

As for me, I wonder whether Scott expected his argument to be so very well validated in such a short space of time. Of course, no one expects the Treasury Inquisition …


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