Obamacare

Here's Why Obamacare Opponents are Pushing for Delay

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credit: Gage Skidmore / Foter / CC BY-SA

With the effort to defund Obamacare in a government-shutdown showdown stalling out due to lack of support, there's a new focus for opponents of the law: Not defund, but delay.

A group of right-leaning activists, led by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, released a letter this week asking House Speaker John Boehner to delay virtually all of the law's headline provisions—the mandates, subsidies, and taxes—for a year.

The mention of the law's widely disliked individual mandate may get some attention, but it's the insurance subsidies that matter most. Once those tax credits start being doled out to middle income individuals and families—people up to 400 percent of the poverty line, or about $90,000 for a family of four, are eligible—the law, and its spending, will become extremely difficult to repeal. The policy goal here is largely to delay the law's spending.  

Here's the thinking behind the letter's tactical agenda: For one thing, it tacitly walks back the push by some of the law's opponents to refuse to pass a continuing resolution if it funds Obamacare—potentially shutting down the government in the process. That effort was controversial, even amongst Obamacare's opponents, in large part because it left no room for negotiation. This redirects some of the energy that would have gone toward the defunding push, and helps unify the law's opponents: A delay request is something basically everyone should be able to support.

It's also a more plausible ask of potentially sympathetic Democrats who might be on the fence about the law, or just worried about implementation hurdles. Which is not to say that the chances of a significant delay are high; to the contrary, they are very, very low. At best.

But there's a big difference between asking for Democrats to agree to wholly defund their biggest domestic policy achievement in decades and asking them to wait just one more year for its major provisions to take effect—especially when the federal government admits it is struggling to meet crucial data security deadlines, when the administration has already delayed some significant provisions, when a gang of Democrats in the House have already voted to delay the law's mandate, and when pro-Obamacare state officials implementing the law are saying things like, "I wish we had one more year" to get Obamacare off the ground.

This is a letter built on the assumption that that even if you think Obamacare is a great idea, it's not yet operationally ready for the real world. It implicitly urges the GOP to work with Democrats to give folks working on the law the extra time a growing number now say they wish they had.

That sort of less-combative ask puts Republicans in a better bargaining position. As does the letter's cautious lack of a hard line. The biggest problem with the Senate-led defunding push was that it was all or nothing, committing legislators and their allies to full defunding, full stop, with no wiggle room to support anything else. The new letter leaves supporters free to accept half a loaf rather than nothing at all, if that's the best deal they think they can get. 

Which is why it also signals that many of the law's opponents are looking to actually weaken the law, if possible (which, at this point, it may not be!), rather than start a big, impulsive fight they are virtually guaranteed to lose

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  1. If they delay the spending, Obama can crow about how he’s bringing the deficit down.

    1. He’s not running again…..let him crow.

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  2. Kill it. Kill it with fire. If they have to spend some extra time stringing it up before employing the flamethrowers, fine. So long as it’s dead.

  3. The calls are coming from inside the house! Of Representatives!

  4. So the idea is for the GOP to be accused of “shutting the government down” just before the 2014 elections? That doesn’t seem to make any sense.

    1. creech| 8.9.13 @ 10:21AM |#
      “So the idea is for the GOP to be accused of “shutting the government down” just before the 2014 elections? That doesn’t seem to make any sense.”

      By now, who cares?
      Obama can commit buggery on the platz at high noon, and the chorus will sing: “BUUUUUUUUUUUUSH”.
      Blame away; doesn’t matter.

    2. No, the idea of this is to not have that effect.

  5. If there is going to be a measure to delay the implementation, along the way the GOP should highlight the fact that enacting a legislative change to do so is the ONLY legal way to to do it and that the administration is flat out breaking the law by claiming it can do so by executive order.

    And they can also point out the other related law breaking administrative moves related to Obamacare – such as having the IRS claim it has authority to determine that individuals who sign up for the federal run health exchanges qualify for the federal subsidies the same as those who sign up the state run health exchanges. That is directly contrary to the literal text of the law.

    And they can also point out the illegality of the special deal it just have to Congressional staffers regarding them being subject to Obamacare.

    1. And they can also point out the other related law breaking administrative moves related to Obamacare – such as having the IRS claim it has authority to determine that individuals who sign up for the federal run health exchanges qualify for the federal subsidies the same as those who sign up the state run health exchanges. That is directly contrary to the literal text of the law.

      http://jrlr.net/23rd-and-Linco…..exchanges/

      Congress is already having hearings on this. What other ideas would you have to “point out” they are breaking the law?

      1. Well, if it were I, I’d put together a reform to whatever law and statute allow executive administrative decision making in the first place and have committee hearings on that. So that every time one of these came up, I could call for a floor vote. Personally.

  6. Relying on House Republicans to do their job?

    We. Are. Doomed.

    1. Thinking their job is protecting the people from a bad law their opponents wholly own? That’s a really bad plan. They want it to be implemented as painfully as possible. No chance they fix it before the 2016 elections.

  7. By demanding delay, and getting Obama and the Dems to repeatedly refuse, they’re making it that much harder for Obama to announce a delay in Sept when its absolutely clear the deadline won’t be met. And that pretty much guarantees he will have to explain the ensuing disaster while the Reps can say, see told you so.

  8. Peter is always so concerned about the Democrats’ delicate feelings.

    1. That’s a good concern to have when they have you by the balls.

  9. The best thing the Republicans could do would be to demand that the Democrats implement their Obamacare immediately as promised and watch as this program that’s completely not ready for implementation is bestowed on the public. The Dems know it’s not ready and desperately need time to “fix it”. It’s being stalled on purpose until after the next elections and the Republicans are missing yet another opportunity.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking

  10. I no longer agree that ObamaCare was designed to fail. It was designed to only partly fail. There’s the part that all the Democrats wanted (all the spending and bennies), and all the stuff that Republicans pushed to get in (the cost containment, funding, etc). Once the spending gets started, Obama and a lot of the democrats will happily let the cost containment measures (like the individual mandate) fall by the wayside. They only wanted the spending in the first place.

    1. ^
      This. Then 3 years down the road the progs will blame this clusterfuck on the evil, greedy insurance industry, republican intransigence, the Koch brothers, global warming – take your pick. Hill-bilary will dust off her plans for “single-payer” – sounds better than “socialized medicine” – and we’re off to the races.

  11. I like it, but it seems as unlikely to fly as full delay or repeal. The addictive subsidies are the whole point. Suspending the reporting requirements for a year (allowing people to get subsidies they don’t qualify for) is a perfect indication of that.

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    1. She probably won’t qualify for a subsidy from Obamacare.

      was that your question ?

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