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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Yet another cynical Obamacare punt

Here we go again. Again. Yet another portion of The Law of The Land — that sacred, unamendable legislative triumph also known as the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare — has been delayed by the unilateral, imperial whim of the White House. Well, after all, the program bears the occupant’s name. If Barack Obama can’t all by his own self rip stuff out, or put stuff on hold, who can?

This time it’s an additional one-year postponement of the employer mandate for companies with between 50 and 99 full-time employees. You may recall the administration issued a delay last July that punted the entire employer mandate to the start of 2015. The new kick-in date is the start of 2016.

Moreover, there’s fresh wiggle room for larger companies — those with more than 100 full-timers — that allows them to phase in the mandate. And while you can be sure CEOs of those bigger outfits are happy for any break they get under the onerous demands of Obamacare, the White House (presumably unwittingly) simultaneously incentivized those CEOs with somewhat more than 99 full-time workers to scale back operations or convert full-timers into part-timers … just in time for the 2015 Christmas shopping season.

Well, jingle all the way.

What gives? Speaking on background, a Treasury Department official told reporters the administration had decided to allow medium-sized businesses some breathing room because they “need a little more time to adjust to providing coverage.” They needed more than five years? Yeah, right.

What’s far more likely is the White House belatedly figured out the calendar, and also that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was perfectly delusional for claiming Democrats would “stand tall” on the ACA in the run-up to the 2014 midterms.

If left in place, companies affected by the mandate would have begun next October — also known as the Month Before Election Day — alerting employees numbering in the 10s of millions about the unpleasant hikes in costs (premiums, co-pays and, especially, deductibles) they were facing because of Obamacare. Democrats already facing a tough election couldn’t very well have that.

Just now, polls indicate Republicans will easily hold their majority in the House of Representative and have an about-even chance of reclaiming the Senate. Without the delay, however, shocked employees could turn their anger into votes, and November into a Democrat bloodbath.

Now the administration has punted the dissemination of those notices to October 2015 when the news is likely to be every bit as unpleasant, but voters’ response will be left without immediate targets.

Meanwhile, we are left to ponder, as National Review contributor Yuval Levine has over at The Corner, if there are no limits to this White House’s lawlessness. This is not the first time (or the second, or the third or the eighth — I could go on) President Obama, who must think the Oath of Office comes with an expiration date, has dismissed statutory provisions that are inconvenient for him or his base. And with bobbleheads running the Senate, Congress has effectively jettisoned its constraining responsibility.

Something to remember, even with — maybe especially because of — the employer reprieve.