Time out for midterm elections
By John D. Turner
6 Jul 2013

It was vitally important to the health of our nation. It was a civil rights issue – there was no excuse for a nation like the United States to have a portion of its population without health insurance. It was for the children. It was so important that it had to be voted on immediately, without even reading the bill. Trust us, we were told.

And so, amid vote buying, chicanery, and other shady deals, the “Affordable Health Care Act,” aka “Obamacare,” was rammed through the House and Senate, and signed into law by the President.

That was in 2009. And now it seems it can wait until after the 2014 elections are over. The reason given by the administration mouthpieces? “Well, we have been looking at the law and you know it’s really complicated. So we were thinking that if we spent a year working on it we might be able to make it simpler and easier to understand and comply with.”

Really? Just noticed that, have you? I guess the past three years of reading the bill that we had to pass so we would know what was in it have clued you in on that fact? And now, delaying the employer mandate by a year, a piece of the legislation that is massively unpopular and which is derailing the recovery, causing massive underemployment, and closing businesses left and right, "coincidently" just before the upcoming midterm elections, is supposed to allow you time to re-examine the legislation and “fix” that problem? And it has nothing to do with the upcoming elections, just your government trying to be helpful. I know I look stupid, but really!

The most dreaded ten words in America; “I’m with the government and I am here to help!”

This administration has an interesting take on the law; you can ignore laws passed by congress by simply deciding not to enforce them. So it is with the employer mandate in the healthcare legislation, scheduled to take effect at the beginning of 2014. The employer mandate is a vital part of the healthcare legislation – without it, the act will fail on its face. You have to require employers to support it or pay a fine, or else it simply won’t work. But the administration, in an interesting about face has decided to delay implementation of that part of the law for a year. Not by enacting new legislation, but simply by telling employers that, “hey, you don’t have to worry about that part right now. Yes, I know you will be in violation of the law if you don’t comply, but don’t worry – we aren’t going to enforce that provision for another year. Trust us…”

Why would the administration back off on enforcing a key provision of that vitally needed legislation that was so important that we couldn’t even take time to read and debate it before we passed it? Could it be because for the past four year’s people have been reading it, particularly employers, and don’t like what they see? Could it be because, like most legislation, particularly gigantic bills pushed through the process without debate, it wasn’t fully thought through and is riddled with unintended consequences?

The bill says that employers with more than 50 workers must provide health insurance or face a fine. The solution? Make sure you only have no more than 49 workers. The bill applies to full time employees. The solution? Only hire part time workers, and adjust your current employee’s hours to less than 40 hours per week.

The administration tried to fix that “loophole” in recent legislation, when they redefined full time employment to be more than 30 hours per week, vice 40. The workplace solution to that one? Cut hours below 30 hours per week.

And we wonder why the economy is moving like a stoned Coloradian looking for his next hit.

In this “great” economy we have under President Obama (who, five years after taking office still blames George W. Bush for its lethargy), we still have unemployment over 7.5% (U-6, the broadest measure of unemployment, actually increased), and unprecedented numbers of part-time employees, people with multiple part-time jobs trying to make ends meet (less than 48% of adult Americans have a full-time job), a labor force participation rate that is at an all-time low and dropping, and over 50 million Americans, one in five, on SNAP (food stamps).

But hey, Obama’s golf game is coming right along, and Michelle, Sasha, and Malia are having a ball on your dime, vacationing in all the places you can’t afford whenever the mood strikes. Even Bo, the dog gets to vacation – just not on the same plane as the first family of course.

So here we are in July 2013; the 1 Jan 2014 deadline for implementation of the remainder of Obamacare is looming, and suddenly the administration decides to “delay” implementation for another year to “simplify reporting requirements and give companies time to adapt?” Really? When they have had four years already? What could possibly be causing this delay in the implementation of this vital piece of legislation affecting millions of Americans? What possible reason could there be for delaying health care for millions of Americans who are currently being denied it by greedy businessmen and heartless Republicans?

Could it be dare we say it, political considerations? Could it be that people are starting to see, from looking at their pay stubs, that the “affordable” health care isn’t? That the promised decrease in costs has instead been an even higher than before increase in premiums for existing healthcare? And that the promise that “you can keep your existing doctor and existing healthcare plan” is turning out to be a fraudulent “ends justifies the means” promise to get you to support the legislation?

Could it be that Democrats are concerned about the mid-term elections and the possibility of another rout such as they suffered in 2010? Well, maybe…perhaps it would be a good idea to delay implementation until 2015 “just in case.”

The decision says nothing, however, about the individual mandate, also scheduled to take effect on 1 Jan 2014. That mandate requires individuals to have health insurance or face fines (or “taxes”, as the Supreme Court ruled back in 2012). So, at least for now, businesses are off the hook for another year, but individuals are not. Because businesses have political clout, while individuals do not, I guess. And the president is more concerned about not getting political contributions from businesses in the coming election cycle than he is about individuals. If he has enough cash to run ads, he can convince individuals to vote the way he wants; if he doesn’t he can’t.

So businesses don’t have to pay, but individuals do? What happened to “equal protection under the law?” Does that only apply to homosexuals these days? Seems to me the administration is opening themselves up to a whole slew of lawsuits and court challenges.

And then again, there is that whole issue of “selective enforcement” of the law; something this administration, and other Democratic administrations at the state level seem to specialize in. Don’t like that law? Then don’t enforce it; and don’t defend it in court. Just pretend it doesn’t exist. The administration took that tact with DOMA. The California state government took that tact with Prop 8.

So if the executive branch can decide whether or not it is going to enforce a law passed by congress, how does it have the moral authority to complain when congress refuses to fund a pet project of the president? Furthermore, if the executive branch can decide whether or not it is going to enforce a law that congress passed, is the Congress really necessary anymore?

Pretty much anything you like can be done by regulation now. You don’t even need congress to levy a tax – regulatory agencies levy fines against those breaking their regulations without congress chopping off on it. And the SCOTUS has ruled that the Obamacare fines are really taxes. And in any event, does it really matter as long as the money flows in?

Congress is supposed to have the power to declare war – but as you may have noticed, we are in conflicts around the globe, under the president’s authority as Commander-in-Chief. There hasn’t been a declaration of war for any conflict by Congress since WW II. Apparently we don’t need Congress for that either; something the leaders of both parties seem to be in agreement with, at least when they are in power.

The executive branch regulates the affairs of the executive branch without any oversight or approval from Congress, and all regulatory agencies, intelligence agencies, etc fall under the executive branch. As was once said by a Democratic operative during the Clinton administration, “Stroke of a pen, law of the land. Cool.”

As far as the one year “exemption” on the employer mandate is concerned, don’t expect it to make much difference on anything except the (hoped for) bypass of electoral backlash during the upcoming midterm elections. And maybe, just maybe, we will forget over the course of another year, that it is the IRS that will be managing that. Maybe the IRS scandal will blow over by then, if enough deck chairs are rearranged and enough apologies are spouted between now and then. Trust us…

Certainly businesses aren’t going to do anything different. Why should the absence of the mandate in 2014 cause them to start hiring when all that has happened is that the goal posts have been moved back one year? They slowed hiring in anticipation of 2014; all this will do is keep them in a holding pattern for another year.

One thing I am sure of. Somehow, some way, all this will be blamed on Republicans, the media will go into overdrive to make the President look good, and undoubtedly at the end of the day it will turn out to be “all George Bush’s fault.”