Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

February 13, 2014

The law is also a mandate

The Obama administration on Monday announced that it was delaying, once again, enforcement of the Affordable Care Act “employer mandate.” Yes, Republicans have done everything they can to impede implementation of this law. Yes, their “solution” — gutting the individual mandate — is an awful idea. And, yes, their public response to the administration’s action was predictably over-the-top. But none of that excuses President Obama’s increasingly cavalier approach to picking and choosing how to enforce this law. Imagine how Democrats would respond if a President Rand Paul, say, moved into the White House in 2017 and announced he was going to put off provisions of Obamacare he thought might be too onerous to administer.

The Treasury Department released rules Monday for medium and large employers, which under the ACA are supposed to chip in for their employees’ health care. The law says they were supposed to have provided health coverage to full-time employees by Jan. 1 or pay fines to help defray the government’s costs of covering them. Last summer, in response to business concerns that the rules weren’t ready, Treasury delayed these requirements for a year.

That was already a stretch of governmental discretion, but it was defensible given the law’s complexity and the relatively small consequences of delaying this particular mandate. This week, Treasury changed the rules again: medium-size businesses will get another year before they must comply, and large businesses will have a softer coverage target to meet next year. This delays any bad press or bad feelings engendered by the mandate beyond the 2014 election.

The administration claims legal wiggle room in the Internal Revenue Code, which allows the Treasury secretary to make “needful rules and regulations” about tax collection, including those “as may be necessary by reason of any alteration of law.” Treasury has used this provision to justify smoothing out the phase-in of other laws. But the administration is unilaterally making distinctions between large businesses and medium ones; the latter group, which will get hit hardest and scream loudest when the employer mandate kicks in, will be treated more leniently. The law is also explicit that the government should be enforcing penalties already; that’s the plainest interpretation of Congress’ intent. The administration shouldn’t dismiss that without exceptionally good reason. Fear of a midterm shellacking doesn’t qualify as good reason.

Studies have shown that the employer mandate isn’t key to insuring more people, so its implementation is not crucial to getting the whole ACA working. Rather, it’s mostly a revenue-raising measure to fund health-care reform; the first year-long delay cost the Treasury $12 billion. If there’s a less disruptive way to raise that money, Congress should repeal the employer mandate. Until then, the president should implement the law.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Keeping up with the Comcast call-center fiasco I’ve been intending for a while to write about the Comcast call-center fiasco, but it’s hard to keep up: the story just gets weirder and weirder. Following the now-viral recording of the telephone call in which a customer service representative essen

    August 21, 2014

  • System needed for choosing House In the original conception of our Constitution, the House of Representatives was to be the branch of government that best reflected the will of the people. House members cannot serve without being elected — vacancies are not filled by appointees — an

    August 21, 2014

  • Dems plead for more money I’ve been getting a lot of email from Democratic fundraisers lately. They seem very worried about November’s elections.First came the highly publicized “Impeachment Red Alert” campaign, in which the Democratic congressional committee warned that Repu

    August 21, 2014

  • Why Obama shouldn't go to Ferguson On Monday, ABC’s Ann Compton asked President Barack Obama whether he would visit Ferguson, Missouri, amid the continued unrest. Obama didn’t give a firm answer, but he did suggest it’s probably not a good idea.“When they’re conducting an investigatio

    August 20, 2014

  • Food stamps' $80B secret spending program Imagine a government program that has exploded in size, is the subject of bitter partisan haggling and spends almost $80 billion a year in secret.No, not the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Homeland Secu

    August 20, 2014

  • Vouchers provide greater choice I was chatting the other day with a fellow who, along with his wife, homeschool his children. We joked about the stereotype: Moms in denim skirts.But then he expounded on the benefits his youngsters have derived from being taught at home: a customize

    August 20, 2014

  • A rare experience Alexandra Petri’s editorial, “What exactly are we seeing in Ferguson” is well written and did something which has increasingly become a rare experience for me. Her article caused me to think!Petri makes the case for media coverage of American events,

    August 19, 2014

  • Naive? Simple? I will admit outright that I may be a little naïve and tend to look at things through a simple prism. I received a suggestion for a column with an accompanying article written by By Reed Abelson and Eric Lichtblau concerning the failure of our govern

    August 19, 2014

  • Don't pass 'coup clause' with a security waiver It is a sad reality that national security waivers often render human rights laws moot, inviting the government to overuse the loophole to accommodate immediate needs. The “coup clause,” which mandates foreign aid suspension to countries after a mili

    August 19, 2014

  • Clinton could end up like Gore Although we’re all still sort of pretending that it remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016, she recently gave the most definitive confirmation she has to date of her impending candidacy. No, she didn’t say the words

    August 16, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks