We’re well past the creaking stage of ObamaCare. Now we’re starting to hear cracks.
Democrats got destroyed in one midterm election because of O’s pet boondoggle. The White House will do what it can to stop history from repeating.
The decision will come in regulatory guidance to be issued later this week. It addresses vehement complaints from employer groups about the administrative burden of reporting requirements, though it may also affect coverage provided to some workers.
The two officials, who asked not to be identified to discuss the move ahead of its announcement, said the administration decided to wait until 2015 before enforcing the employer mandate in order to simplify reporting requirements and give businesses more time to adapt their health-care coverage.
The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes financial penalties on businesses with more than 50 employees that fail to provide health insurance that meets minimum standards and tests for affordability.
What happens now, without a law requiring businesses to provide insurance to full-time workers as the cost of coverage — and the cost of complying with other new O-Care regulations — rises? No one knows. We had to pass the bill to see what’s in it, and now we’ll have to implement the bill without an employer mandate to see what it looks like in practice. Presumably a bunch of businesses will simply drop coverage and leave workers to fend for themselves on the new ObamaCare exchanges. Assuming that those are ready by next year.
There have been endless stories over the past year or so of business owners scratching their heads and wringing their hands about coping with the burdens of the mandate. (The most fun example involves the Obama-loving film industry.) Gallup polled businesses just a few weeks ago to see how they were handling it. Results:
“We were startled because we know that employers were concerned about the Affordable Care Act and the effects it would have on their business, but we didn’t realize the extent they were concerned, or that the businesses were being proactive to make sure the effects of the ACA actually were minimized,” said attorney Steven Friedman of Littler Mendelson. His firm, which specializes in employment law, commissioned the Gallup poll…
Forty-one percent of the businesses surveyed have frozen hiring because of the health-care law known as Obamacare. And almost one-fifth—19 percent— answered “yes” when asked if they had “reduced the number of employees you have in your business as a specific result of the Affordable Care Act.”
Forty-one percent. That’s terrible under any circumstances but potentially catastrophic next year with the Fed warning that the age of quantitative easing is coming to an end. And an economic catastrophe driven by ObamaCare means another electoral catastrophe for Democrats, no matter how much pandering they do on amnesty and background checks. That’s why the employer mandate is being delayed; more key O-Care pieces, like the exchanges, may yet be delayed too. That’s what failure looks like. So now, instead of Obama’s signature legislation being a drag on Democrats next year, it’ll be a drag on them in 2016 instead. Expect lots of public pronouncements from Hillary Clinton, beginning sooner than you think, about how she admires the president for having tried on universal health care but emphasizing that she would have done things “quite a bit differently.”
Via Timothy Carney, here’s an Examiner vid from April about the joy of mandates.
Update: Via Ben Domenech’s feed, an excellent point:
The move also raises some bizarro questions of precedent: can a future, conservative administration suspend the mandates?
— Evan Soltas (@esoltas) July 2, 2013
The employer mandate is part of the law itself, duly enacted by Congress and signed by O. What authority does he have to suspend it unilaterally? Is that part of the “Save Democrats’ Asses Enabling Act of 2013”?
Update: Philip Klein sees an analogy to “doctor fix” — and a risk of this move blowing up in Democrats’ faces next year anyway:
Also, the delay is said to be one year, but if business lobbyists were successful in convincing the Obama administration to delay it for a year, will it actually ever go into effect? Congress routinely votes to delay scheduled cuts in physician payments under Medicare. Will this be the same sort of policy, that exists on paper, but never gets implemented?
Politically, the decision smacks of the Obama administration wanting to defer the impact of the law on businesses during the 2014 midterm election year, avoiding headlines about businesses cutting staff levels or reducing worker hours to get around the mandate. But it could also be politically dangerous, by reinforcing the idea that the law is a looming train wreck. Republicans can now also run on an argument that if voters elect them, they’ll prevent this horrible policy — so horrible that even the Obama administration had to delay it for a year — from ever going into effect.
Obama’s admitting failure here. Why wouldn’t the GOP run on it?
Update: Great catch by Guy:
Remember when Democrats announced their 2014 #Obamacare strategy was to "own it"?
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) July 2, 2013
He’s referring to this now comical Politico piece, not even a month old as I write this. Read it and giggle.