WASHINGTON, July 2, 2013 ― Late Tuesday afternoon, President Obama used his Assistant Treasury Secretary, Mark Mazur, to make the official announcement that the president has decided to delay the implementation of a key Obamacare provision until January 1, 2015.
The probable intent of the delay, which puts off the employer mandate until after next year’s mid-term elections, is to assuage the wrath of Americans over the regulatory fallout from the unpopular provision.
Treasury broke the news rather than Health and Human Services, perhaps to reinforce the “tax” nature of the Obamacare mandates, as the Supreme Court defined them. HHS is to administer the healthcare exchanges; the IRS will collect the fees and fines.
Mazur wrote on the Treasury’s blog, “The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin. This is designed to meet two goals. First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.
“Within the next week, we will publish formal guidance describing this transition. Just like the Administration’s effort to turn the initial 21-page application for health insurance into a three-page application, we are working hard to adapt and to be flexible about reporting requirements as we implement the law. …
“The ACA includes information reporting (under section 6055) by insurers, self-insuring employers, and other parties that provide health coverage. It also requires information reporting (under section 6056) by certain employers with respect to the health coverage offered to their full-time employees. We expect to publish proposed rules implementing these provisions this summer, after a dialogue with stakeholders ― including those responsible employers that already provide their full-time work force with coverage far exceeding the minimum employer shared responsibility requirements ― in an effort to minimize the reporting, consistent with effective implementation of the law.”
Earlier, Mazur admitted that the Administration had “listened to your feedback.” Several interesting questions arise, in addition to some obvious conclusions. There is little doubt that implementation of Obamacare is impossible, particularly by October 1 of this year, when people were to have begun signing up for the mostly non-existent insurance “exchanges” in advance of the planned January 1, 2014 full launch.
Additionally, the turmoil this would cause, especially among voters who backed Democrats when the law was rammed through both chambers of Congress, would be politically suicidal for anyone associated with Obama.
The timing of this announcement is obvious in retrospect: The president dropped this bomb while he was in Africa, late in the day, just before a national holiday, thus minimizing immediate fallout from the announcement. Likewise the source of the announcement ― a relatively unknown bureaucrat who posted it to the Treasury Department’s blog ― was also designed to minimize fallout.
If the president had been proud of this, he would have announced it himself, in the Rose Garden, surrounded by other backers, at an announced press conference. With all the rush to pass the Affordable Care Act, one would think that its implementation would also be a priority. So now, Mr. President, Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Reed ― we don’t need it right now or sooner afterall? The bigger question is, just how does the president have the power to do this? The legislation is clear, and it hasn’t been amended.
“How the president does this” is by intentionally and publicly refusing to enforce the law, a clear dereliction of his constitutional duty, an abrogation of his office, and par for the course.
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