Here we go: White House delays ObamaCare employer mandate for some small businesses until 2016

The perfect complement to this morning’s post on immigration. The employer mandate was already delayed last year, of course, in order to spare Democrats some extra pain during O-Care’s extremely painful rollout. That wasn’t related to an imminent election, though; this new delay is. Obama unilaterally amnestized DREAMers two years ago for no better reason than that it helped his side in the 2012 election. Now he’s going to amnestize small businesses from his signature boondoggle for the same reason, to cover his team’s asses this fall.

According to the statute passed by Congress and signed by the president, businesses with 50 or more full-time employees are required by law to provide them with health insurance as of January 1, 2014. But the law doesn’t matter:

Employers with fewer than 100 workers won’t have to provide health insurance until 2016 under Obamacare, as the administration said it would again delay a key requirement of the health law.

Larger firms have to cover at least 70 percent of the workforce starting next year, the Internal Revenue Service said in a rule issued today.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act envisioned as a cornerstone of its expansion of U.S. insurance coverage that employers with 50 or more workers would be required to provide health benefits to their employees. Under pressure from business groups, the Obama administration has weakened that requirement since July, first by delaying enforcement of the mandate until 2015. Many firms will have even more time under the regulation issued today…

The rule provides employers far more flexibility than allowed by the language of the health law, which levies fines of as much as $3,000 per worker against firms that don’t comply with the requirement.

Three points. One: It’ll be a stump-speech staple for every Republican running in 2016 that he intends to delay ObamaCare indefinitely, root and branch, if elected. Obama’s now set the precedent that he can suspend parts of the law simply because he finds them politically inconvenient. That precedent will be built upon. Two: The GOP might sue to force him to enforce the mandate, although the politics of that are tricky. No one likes the mandate, especially Republicans’ benefactors in the business lobby. Successfully suing O over this, even if it’s for the noble constitutional purpose of compelling the president to faithfully execute the law, would mean making ObamaCare even more onerous than it is. Good for rolling back executive overreach, not so good for the economy.

Three: This should be it for immigration reform. If Obama’s answer to Boehner’s “we don’t trust you” charge is to double down on one of his most egregious executive power grabs, there’s no way Republicans will trust him on border security now. And of course O knows it, which makes me think he’s already decided to compound this illegal action with some sort of unilateral mass amnesty by executive order later this year or next. There’s no going back.

Exit question via Karl: “Unexpected”?

Update: Bingo.

Ezra Klein should start working on the inevitable “Why Obama’s unilateral suspensions of the law were okay but this new president’s aren’t” post for 2017. He can always shelve it if Hillary wins.