(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
While President Barack Obama touts a desire to increase access to healthcare, his actions related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," suggest that he cares more about winning elections than providing health insurance to every American.
Last week, Obama delayed the employer mandate for certain employers. This would be the second time Obama has delayed parts of the employer mandate, thus ensuring that some Americans will have to wait two more years before getting health insurance coverage through their employers.
Obama has said 2014 will be a "year of action." But in this case, Obama's order is to delay action. To put it bluntly, there are Americans today without health insurance who would have health insurance if Obama had implemented the law as Congress wrote it.
California Congressman and Obama-defender Xavier Becerra (D) oddly claimed that Obama was helping Americans get health insurance by preventing Americans from getting health insurance. In defending the executive order on "Fox News Sunday," Becerra said Obama's actions were to "make sure that the laws are administered and executed in a way that helps all Americans," and Obama is implementing the law "in a way that puts into effect the purpose of the law, which is to give people more health security."
If Obama wanted to give people health security, though, he would implement the law as it is written, not delay the implementation of the law. The ACA states that the employer mandate will begin "after December 31, 2013."
In debating whether or not Obama has the authority to delay implementation of certain parts of the law, Becerra claimed that Obama must act because Congress will not.
"What he's trying to do is make things work. When Congress can't pass bills, when Congress shuts down the government, the president can't just sit there. What he is saying is I won't wait," Becerra said.
Wait for what? Congress already acted when it passed the law. This is not a case of the president waiting for Congress to act. Rather, Congress is waiting for the president to implement the law it passed. Congress is not preventing the law from going fully into effect. Obama is.
Becerra then further defended Obama's authority to delay implementation of the law by saying the president has the authority to act in an emergency.
"If we have an emergency, the president is just supposed to sit there?" he said rhetorically. "... I would hope that we would never have a chief executive who would twiddle his thumbs because Congress can't get its act together. We need to move. We need to move."
But Obama is not moving, he is stalling.
Why is he stalling? In answering a reporter's question last Tuesday, Obama said he was "making sure that we're smoothing out this transition." Employers, though, have had nearly three years to prepare for the transition. Three years is not enough time for employers to purchase health insurance for their employees?
The real reason Obama is delaying the law is not to help its implementation but to minimize the impact of the law's implementation on the 2014 midterm elections.
This is not the only time Obama's electoral considerations trumped the healthcare needs of Americans. The disastrous rollout of the ACA website, healthcare.gov, was due, in part, to Obama's desire to hide from public view the full impact of the law.
During the 2012 election, Republicans accused Obama of placing too many regulatory burdens on businesses. In an effort to avoid providing Republicans with ammunition for that argument, Obama delayed much of the rulemaking for the ACA until after the election. In 2013, then, a flood of new rules were written. This meant that the government bureaucrats overseeing the implementation had little time, even though the law was first signed by Obama in March 2010.
"Even the law's most fervent supporters are frustrated," Ron Fournier, senior political columnist for National Journal, wrote Feb. 11.
Fournier has been a supporter of the ACA and wants the law to work. Obama's actions, though, in both fumbling parts of the implementation and delaying other parts have made the law harder for him to defend.
"It's getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation," he wrote.