The headline on David Harsanyi’s commentary for The Federalist said it all: “Obamacare is just another word for laws we ignore together.” Last week, President Barack Obama again delayed and altered the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which was supposed to go into full effect six weeks ago.
The president first delayed the mandate in July, giving all businesses with 50 or more employees until Jan. 1, 2015, to offer health insurance or start paying a penalty tax. The newest delay gives businesses with 50 to 99 workers until Jan. 1, 2016, to provide Obamacare-compliant insurance, and requires businesses with 100 or more workers to offer coverage to just 70 percent of full-time employees — rather than 95 percent — by Jan. 1, 2015.
This latest on-the-fly rewrite of Obamacare has left the law’s proponents tired of excuses. USA Today columnist and avowed Democrat Kirsten Powers told Fox News: “It’s now gotten to the point where it seems like there’s an exemption made for pretty much everybody except for individuals. A lot of people who have really been screwed over by the law, you know, who are left without insurance or with extremely expensive insurance.”
National Journal columnist Ron Fournier, former Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Associated Press and a staunch Obamacare defender, penned a piece headlined, “Why I’m getting sick of defending Obamacare,” rightly noting, “Not coincidentally, the delays punt implementation beyond congressional elections in November, which raises the first problem with defending Obamacare: The White House has politicized its signature policy.”
Indeed. The president is again acting beyond his authority, changing the law as he goes without congressional approval, and every change is a political calculation. His administration is not rewriting the law to make it better, but rather to improve Democrats’ chances in November’s midterm elections.
Worse, though, is the president’s arbitrary creation of a new class of businesses that will have a disincentive to hire and grow. The original legislation brought us the so-called “49ers”: small companies that kept or cut back their full-time workforce to 49 workers to avoid being wiped out by the employer mandate. Now we’ll have “99ers” as well, because a medium-sized business that hires its 100th worker will have one less year to comply with Obamacare. (For now, anyway.)
But fear not, because the president has a regulation for that, too: Under penalty of perjury, businesses will be required by the IRS to certify that Obamacare did not influence their staffing decisions. This speaks to just how outrageous the law is; Obamacare provides entrepreneurs with a financial incentive to not add — or to let go of — that 50th or 100th employee, but gives the IRS the authority to intimidate and investigate companies for acting on that incentive. What’s next, forcing Americans to deny that their end-of-year IRA contributions and charitable donations were made to stay out of a higher income tax bracket?
The latest delay of the employee mandate is another administration admission that Obamacare causes economic harm. The whole purpose of Obamacare was to get more people insured, and affordably so; this move does nothing to accomplish either goal. Rather, it will send more Americans to Obamacare exchanges for high-deductible, high-premium coverage.
Obamacare is indeed a law we should ignore together. Congress should repeal it and start over on health care reform.
This editorial appeared Feb. 14 in the Las Vegas Review-Journal