The White House has delayed the implementation of the “employer mandate” of the PPACA AKA “Obamacare” by the simple of expedient of directing the IRS not to enforce the law:
(CBS News) The delay of a key provision in President Obama’s health-care law is being called a major setback for the president’s signature issue.
The controversial provision that requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide coverage or face fines is being delayed by a year. The rule is now on hold until 2015 – after the 2014 midterm elections.
The news came while the president was flying back from Africa to Washington. It’s a major concession in what is considered the president’s signature achievement.
Posted with no fanfare on the White House website, the administration pushed back by one year the requirement that businesses with more than 50 workers provide health-care coverage or pay fines of $2,000 per employee.
The website announcement said, “We have listened to your feedback. And we are taking action.”
The decision marks a shift in the official line on health care, which the president himself stated recently. He said in San Jose, Calif., on June 7, “I think it’s important to acknowledge this is working the way it’s supposed to.”
The concerns that the health-care law was going to hurt workers and the economy were widespread. Some small business owners said they would lay off workers so they had less than the 50 employees that brought them under the new law.
Even business owners who support health-care reform were sounding the alarm.
Earlier this year, CBS News talked to one of those small business owners, Hans Rockenwagner, who runs a bakery in California. Rockenwagner said then, “We want to do the right thing. It just seems that the whole plan was maybe a little hastily put together.”
Perhaps we should start a pool on what provision of the ACA will be postponed next. I’m guessing the health insurance exchanges, supposed to be open for business on October 1 of this year. Their postponement in turn will probably require the delay of the “individual mandate”. Or at least force a lot more waivers on hardship grounds.
Ezra Klein makes a good point in a post over at The Washington Post’s blog:
Implementing the mandate requires a complex reporting process that’s left the administration flooded with comments from anxious employers — even those who offer insurance and have nothing to fear from the provision.
On Tuesday night, the White House solved that problem, at least temporarily, by announcing that that the penalties won’t go into effect until 2015. They say they plan to use the interregnum to simplify and streamline the reporting process. Until then, compliance will be “voluntary.”
But the White House didn’t get an act of Congress delaying the penalties. They simply directed the Internal Revenue Service to refrain from enforcing the penalties.
The announcement came, accordingly, in a blog post by Mark Mazur, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the Treasury Department, prompting Ben Domenech, a fellow at the conservative Heartland Institute, to snipe: “Little known fact: Constitution made Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy [the] fourth branch of government.”
Domenech has a point: This is a regulatory end-run of the legislative process. The law says the mandate goes into effect in 2014, but the administration has decided to give it until 2015 by simply refusing to enforce the penalties.
He calls for the repeal of the provision.
Whether such postponements “happen all the time”, as claimed by the White House, the move won’t foster confidence in a program that’s already on shaky constitutional grounds in any number of areas, many just waiting for implementation for the court cases to be filed.
Tom Maguire notes that the “employer mandate” has been delayed until after the midterm elections: “Thereby delaying employee dumping until after the election.”