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WaPo treats delay of ObamaCare employer mandate as equivalent of flesh wound

WaPo treats delay of ObamaCare employer mandate as equivalent of flesh wound

As Mandy Nagy previously noted here, the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, will now be delayed until 2015.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post sums up the issue:

The surprise decision to delay the requirement that businesses offer health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty represents a significant symbolic setback for the Obama administration, one that focuses attention on a larger question: Can government effectively implement something as big and complex as the Affordable Care Act?

That question has been at the heart of the debate over the law from its outset, coloring the long and contentious discussions that preceded its congressional passage along partisan lines in 2010, and following it every step of the way as the administration has begun to put its pieces into place.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal, take the sensible, Republican side.

The employer mandate is central to ObamaCare’s claim of providing universal coverage. Companies with 50 or more “employee equivalents” must pay a $2,000 penalty per full-time employee if they don’t provide government-approved health insurance. The provision was supposed to start in January, and delaying it is like Ford saying its electric car is ready to go, except the electric battery doesn’t work.

But all of a sudden on Tuesday evening Mark Mazur—you know him as the deputy assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy—published a blog post canceling the insurance reporting rules and tax enforcement until 2015 as Washington began to evacuate for the long Independence Day weekend. Enjoy the holiday, mate. …

Mr. Mazur cited the “complexity of the requirements” as the reason for the delay. He isn’t talking about business confusion and uncertainty, as damaging as those are. This is probably an admission that Treasury’s information technology isn’t ready to process and cross-check paperwork across the 5.7 million businesses in America, especially the pass-through S-corps and partnerships that file under the individual tax code.

But of course, ObamaCare’s supporters say that it’s no big deal.

On the other hand the editors of the Washington Post torture logic to conclude that Delaying part of the Affordable Care Act is not a death knell. Well, no it’s not a death knell because the administration is hellbent on implementing it no matter how unwieldy, or unworkable ObamaCare is.

White House officials said that the administration had been hearing from businesses and wanted to simplify the rules before imposing reporting requirements and assessing penalties. Others weren’t so sanguine. “This is a clear acknowledgment that the law is unworkable,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared.

Actually, it’s not. While the administration’s move could be part of a White House political strategy to avoid overheated attacks from Republicans during the 2014 election year, it is no policy disaster, and it certainly doesn’t indict the whole law. …

Some argue that the employer mandate doesn’t actually matter much, because there are still many reasons why firms will want to provide health-care benefits to their employees within the new system. If that’s the case, the employer mandate — or its temporary absence — won’t make much difference, though the government will lose a source of funding for individual insurance subsidies. …

The real test of the system will be in how the individual insurance marketplaces function in response to expected and unexpected forces in the health-care market. If they have real trouble, or if, when fully implemented, key elements of the system turn out to be economically onerous, then Republicans will have reason to call the law unworkable.

The problem isn’t the “overheated Republican attacks.” The problem is that given the problems in implementing ObamaCare, the attacks will be effective. The administration and Washington Post both know this. They’d prefer that Democrats not pay a political price for their reckless effort to control one sixth of the nation’s economy.

The absurdity of the Post’s position is clear. Maybe the employer mandate is not the most important element of ObamaCare, but it clearly is a significant portion of the mechanism designed to force everyone to get health care coverage. But if businesses (and the administration) were not ready to implement it by the time the law dictated, what does it say about the design of the bill? If this delay was not anticipated, how many other effects of the law weren’t anticipated? (For example, the sharp increases in medical insurance premiums.)

For the Washington Post to argue that the delay in implementing the employer mandate is “no policy disaster,” is akin to losing one’s arm and proclaiming that it’s just a flesh wound, as if this were a Monty Python skit.


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And all of this comes at the same time that the government of Egypt is falling because virtually all of the positions were held by folks who had previously sent the day praying and reading the Quaran and had no executive experience.

No Executive Experience .. hmm ..I’ve heard of this problem a few years back but was assured that we had the “smartest man in the room” working on the problem.

    Neo in reply to Neo. | July 5, 2013 at 11:46 am

    The saving grace in Egypt, he [King Abdullah II of Jordan] said, was that Mursi seemed too unsophisticated to successfully pull off his vision. “There’s no depth to the guy,” he said of Mursi.

    … this certainly explains why Barack Obama got along with Morsi so well.

The delay was caused by the Minister of Silly Walks who hadn’t read the bill.

Shirley you jest, Mr Gerstman..

Yeah yeah ‘and don’t call me Shirely’

Conservative Beaner | July 5, 2013 at 11:24 am

Think it’s complicated now wait till they need to work out the “features” I mean bugs in the software. How many problems will occur while handling all the info. Files that are lost or transfered to the wrong person or department. Maybe your file ends up on an enemies list and is sent automatically to your competition.

What kind of training will the IRS goons I mean agents get to handle your questions. Many who have called the IRS get one answer and when they call again to verify have get something quite different.

The GOP should be hammering their Dem opponents next year on thses very issues.

    Is there really an FBI investigation of the IRS abuses ?

    I see that an attorney representing Tea Party groups says:

    “I have no reason to believe there is an investigation. It appears to me the Obama administration is only talking to itself,” Mitchell stated in an e-mail.

    Bruno Lesky in reply to Conservative Beaner. | July 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Or the operation was supposed to be on your LEFT leg….

    Odds for mistakes are bound to increase with this outfit in charge of all USA medicine.

Conservative Beaner | July 5, 2013 at 11:26 am

Think it’s complicated now wait till they need to work out the “features” I mean bugs in the software. How many problems will occur while handling all the info. Files that are lost or transfered to the wrong person or department. Maybe your file ends up on an enemies list and is sent automatically to your competition.

What kind of training will the IRS goons get to handle your questions. Many who have called the IRS get one answer and when they call again to verify have get something quite different.

The GOP should be hammering their Dem opponents next year on these very issues.

PersonFromPorlock | July 5, 2013 at 11:34 am

Interestingly, our local paper’s Progressive peanut gallery is still insisting that the delay only affects *small* businesses. Then they say “your mother wears Army boots,” “you’re stupid,” “BAD DOG!” and retire from the fray trailing clouds of glory, or at least self-congratulation.

But the Democrats really need to work on talking points distribution.

Old Conventional Wisdom: ObamaCare is working, health care costs will come down, everyone will have coverage, and Republicans will pay a political price for opposing it.

New Conventional Wisdom: ObamaCare isn’t working, health care costs are rising, millions will be without coverage, and Republicans will pay a political price for opposing it.

Henry Hawkins | July 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Without businesses supplying required insured data, Obamacare administrators can’t assess who must pay individual mandates, so this is a de facto delay on individual mandates as well.

Since this pair of mandates were long ago identified by both sides as the one unremovable cog that makes the whole Obamacare machine turn……

TrooperJohnSmith | July 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm

More institutionalized, serial obfuscation from “the most transparent administration in history”.

Let’s see… they pushed Benghazi back until after the election. Then, there was the whole IRS revelation, which was also hidden. Delay the truth until after the elections.

Does anyone else see a pattern?

(If I need to put a /sarcasm tag here, you ain’t been paying attention!)

    J Motes in reply to TrooperJohnSmith. | July 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    You are correct. Add this to your pattern:

    Remember that the original Obamacare bill was crafted so that all the worst stuff wouldn’t kick in until after the 2012 presidential election. They didn’t want voters to really understand what would be happening to their healthcare options. Now that the deadlines for delayed stuff are approaching, they suddenly remember, oops!, another election is coming. They could keep postponing the introduction of harmful provisions indefinitely because there is always another election just around the corner.

You all trying to make me more enfuriated this morning? Here’s a jewel from the NYT, Brit. company to sift applications for Obama Care-less, $1.2 billion contract:

Racing to meet an October deadline, Obama administration officials said Thursday that they had awarded a contract worth as much as $1.2 billion to a British company to help them sift applications for health insurance and tax credits under the new health care law.

Several insurance and health policy experts said they were surprised at the selection of Serco because it did not have experience with the exchanges. But that may have helped the company win the contract. In the last six months, federal health officials expressed concern that companies already working with exchanges could have an unfair competitive advantage because they had access to nonpublic information about how the government was setting up its eligibility and enrollment system.

Serco will also help the administration decide who is entitled to exemptions from the tax penalties that can be imposed on people who go without health insurance starting next year.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to gabilange. | July 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Obamacare $$$ contracts off-shored?

    Lawful US government administrative duties and responsibilities off-shored?

    Healthcare data of 300 million Americans off-shored?


    Hey, I know. Instead of US politicians having to actually deal with the yucky, politically risky business of governing – that they begged us to let them deal with – let’s just push everything, all government actions except tax collection, past 2016 and then off-shore all governance, except tax collection, to the French, or maybe the Samoans. Puerto Rico? Lord knows the American government is incapable of managing the American government. They’re both too big.

    Wow. Obama went from demigod to dashboard bobblehead in five short years.

radiofreeca | July 5, 2013 at 12:23 pm

why don’t all the Tea Party groups collect and present all their data on the web, in a single location, and then sue the government for failing to enforce laws? You might not be able to make FBI conduct an investigation, but at least you can make them pay money to you for it. And expose more of Obama administration actions.

Well, nobody has ever said that administrative competence is a key characteristic of the obamarxists. Or any marxists for that matter. Their style is more the gun to the temple.

I’ve been convinced for 6 years now that the only effort Obama puts into anything is identifying the scapegoats before he takes a breath to do anything. It’s tempting to also say that he puts an effort into lying, but its genetic with criminals like him.

I’d like to see the entire bill repealed. However, I’m curious as to why Repubs aren’t running their candidates on removing all mandates, Individual and Employer, and letting Obamacare die under its own weight. The strategy of repealing the whole thing is more of a non-starter, but the mandate repeal would appeal to everyone, even low-info Democrat voters.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to GoldenAh. | July 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I suspect what is happening is that the Democrats are slowly convincing those we refer to as the establishment GOP that big government ain’t all bad, that there be gold in them hills, and if they’ll play along on some or most of it, the Dems’ll cut the GOP hierarchy in on the spoils, show ’em how it’s done if/when they get back in.

    The GOP’s current essential inaction/silence on repealing Obamacare has political value, given how its roll-out has been one clusterfark after another, each one a campaign ad in itself, but even when this wasn’t so we heard little about repeal from the top GOP. The GOP could conceivably take the WH and Senate, and hold the House in 2014/2016. But, sometimes when a tyrant is taken out, the new guy turns tyrant too, and I could see the establishment GOP drooling over taking hold of the powers Obama has employed, just as Obama once decried but now loves – and has expanded – Patriot Act powers.

    The GOP used to have my back. Then it pushed me to the back. Now it has stepped over to the Dems and turned to oppose me. I’m a conservative.

Carol Herman | July 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Of course, “It’s Only A Flesh Wound” is a famous carry-away line from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. And, I do believe it’s John Cleese’s voice.

Carol Herman | July 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Of course, Obamacare won’t be repealed! Because John Boehner would have to fall off his bar stool, first.

As I ALWAYS do whatever dingbat pelosi (aka, satan’s concubine, and aka, kermit gosnell in drag) says, I did read her OBOZOCARE atrocity AFTER it was passed, so I could find out what horrors were in it. Interestingly, I did NOT see any statement in the law that says “an out-of-control, lawless, dictatorial, radical leftist extremist excuse for a president can delay parts of the law at his whim.” No, it’s definitely NOT there.

Congress must investigate this latest UNLAWFUL act by OBOZO – just add it to the long list of his CRIMES: the Benghazi cover-up and failure to protect Americans, his IRS harassment and intimidation of his political opponents, his Fast-and-Furious gun running, his massive SPYING on Americans, and on, and on, and on….

So where in the bill is the IRS given the power to define an employee as an “employee-equivalent”?