Obamacare

Obama Dodges Questions About Delay of Health Law's Employer Mandate

|

Whitehouse.gov

When the Obama administration announced that it would be delaying Obamacare's employer mandate and reporting requirements by a year, critics—including one of the law's Democratic authors—questioned whether the decision was actually legal. The law provided no authority for the administration to delay the provisions, and explicitly stated that the requirement was to go into effect in 2014.

The Treasury Department, which was officially responsible for delay of the law, eventually released a defense claiming authority based on a tax code provision that allows Treasury to write rules necessary to enforce laws and alteration of revenue-related laws. In an interview with The New York Times published over the weekend, President Obama declined to provide even that thin justification:

[Obama] rejected criticism that by delaying the [employer mandate] provision he had exceeded his constitutional authority.

"This is the kind of routine modifications or tweaks to a large program that's starting off that in normal times in a normal political atmosphere would draw a yawn from everybody," Mr. Obama said. "The fact that something like this generates a frenzy on Republicans is consistent with the fact that they've voted to repeal this thing 38 times without offering an alternative that is plausible."

Mr. Obama said members of Congress who questioned his power to delay the provision should "make that case." But he pointedly suggested that the criticism had less to do with the substance of the issue and more to do with political efforts to undermine his presidency. 

None of this really answer the question, does it? If Obama believes the delay of the mandate is within the administration's authority, he ought to be able to offer a clear explanation of why. That he has declined to do so, and that the administration declined to send a representative to a recent congressional hearing on the employer mandate, does not exactly suggest that they have a compelling explanation.

In general, the administration does not seem to have a clear idea of how it plans to handle the delay. I'm told a recent meeting between Treasury employees and Hill staffers erupted into shouting when Treasury dodged or declined to answer basic questions about how the delay would affect implementation of the law.  In some ways, delaying the employer mandate and reporting will make implementing the law easier. But it also creates a number of additional questions about, say, how to manage the law's subsidies without health coverage and income information from employers. And right now it's not at all clear that the Treasury has figured out how it's all going to work. In general, the strategy from the administration seems to be to just do what it wants, figure out the details later, and dodge inconvenient questions along the way.

NEXT: America's Insane Criminal Code Now Available in XML Format!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. None of this really answer the question, does it? If Obama believes the delay of the mandate is within the administration’s authority, he ought to be able to offer a clear explanation of why.

    Does that seem right to you?

  2. In general, the strategy from the administration seems to be to just do what it wants, figure out the details later, and dodge inconvenient questions along the way.

    They have to run it to find out what’s in it.

  3. The Yawn Clause of the United States Constitution.

    1. Yeah, there’s one branch of government plus the Greek chorus.

  4. Obama: I Didn’t Bother Asking a Lawyer If I Could Unilaterally Suspend the Law;
    All I’ve Done Is Merely Seize Plenary Power on Behalf of the People

    … MR. OBAMA: ? but where Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people.

    And if Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case. But there’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret. But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions ? very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.

    I am concerned about the folks who I spoke to today who are working really hard, are trying to figure out how they can send their kids to college, are trying to make sure that they can save for their retirement. And if I can take steps on their behalf, then I’m going to do so. And I would hope that more and more of Congress will say, you know what, since that’s our primary focus, we’re willing to work with you to advance those ideals. But I’m not just going to sit back if the only message from some of these folks is no on everything, and sit around and twiddle my thumbs for the next 1,200 days….

    1. Vapid twaddle and self-congratulatory platitudes.

      But I’m not just going to sit back if the only message from some of these folks is no on everything, and sit around and twiddle my thumbs for the next 1,200 days

      Won’t you, please?

  5. Mr. Obama said members of Congress who questioned his power to delay the provision should “make that case.” But he pointedly suggested that the criticism had less to do with the substance of the issue and more to do with political efforts to undermine his presidency.

    I used to think Obama was just a master bullshit artist who pretended to believe the stuff he says, but in reality he knew what a lying shitweasel he was and was even secretly contemptuous of the useful idiots that shill for him.

    But now I’m starting to wonder if he really isn’t that arrogant and that deluded like the rest of Team Blue who think that every challenge to their authority and vision is because of racism and a GOP desire to enslave us to the Koch Brothers.

    1. Obozo, like all leftoids, is a ghastly combination of pretentiousness and childish petulance.

    2. I’ve forgotten her name, but some female ex-rock star went to law school with Obama, and said that he was known for being arrogant.

    3. Sadly, those are the two options with Obama- a master bs’er or an arrogant, deluded ahole.

  6. At this point, what difference does it make? Can’t we all express our gratitude that Obama, in his wisdom, has seen fit to preserve us from his flagship legislation?

  7. What happens in 2014 when someone, who according to the law is supposed to be supplied with employer health care, but is not, facing an IRS fine as a result, sues their employer?

    1. Their employer defends by saying that they are not obligated to provide such insurance, as they can choose in the alternative to pay the penaltaxfine, which they will do as soon as they get a bill for it.

      1. If someone takes you to court asking for injunctive relief, I’m not sure “yeah, I’m breaking the law, but I’m okay with paying the fine if I get caught” is as good a defense as you seem to think it is.

        1. You’re not breaking the law. You have two options under the law. Pay an insurance company or pay the government.

  8. I disagree that he dodged the question. He answered quite clearly that the President, and by extension the vast administrative state that is answerable only to the President, can do what they damn well please, if, when, and how they damn well please. Period. “Separation of powers” means that the courts and Congress have nothing to say about it.

    1. ^This.

      Dems are so fucking stupid. They haven’t thought this shit through. The tears will flow in delicious rivers when a Repub gets into the office.

  9. [Obama] rejected criticism that by delaying the [employer mandate] provision he had exceeded the idea that there are any limits to his constitutional authority.

  10. Wouldn’t a simple “FYTW” have been sufficient?

  11. “. . . .that they’ve voted to repeal this thing 38 times without offering an alternative that is plausible.” In the past he has claimed no plan has been presented. Lets claim victory and defund this pig now.

  12. OK wow man, I like that idea. Wow.

    http://www.Anon-Top.tk

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.