So the employer mandate of ObamaCare will be delayed until 2015, as employers crushed beneath the burdens of the system howl in agony and bleed jobs. In a way, this is an extraordinary moment in the history of not just ObamaCare, but American government. The President just invented an entirely new power to rewrite duly enacted laws on the fly… right before the Fourth of July. Happy Independence Day, America!
Make no mistake, this is a real and permanent deformation of an already decayed system of government. The precedent will be invoked again, both by Obama and his successors. Why wouldn’t it be? They have a gigantic new power that all but nullifies the legislative branch of government. A Republican successor to Obama can erase ObamaCare by fiat. Any “comprehensive immigration reform” deal reached by Congress can be rewritten with the stroke of a pen (as if the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” plan didn’t already include enough discretionary powers to neutralize its “tough” security provisions.) You don’t suppose the President might want to move some of those immigration “trigger” deadlines the same way he just moved the ObamaCare employer mandate, do you? Every politically connected industry will have good reason to lobby for beneficial use of the new “Obama power.”
This is authorized nowhere in the Constitution, but since the political class will display little enthusiasm for holding Obama accountable or impeaching him, he’s going to get away with it. The reasons could not be more nakedly political – the Democrats were looking at annihilation in the 2014 midterms, with ObamaCare smashing employers to rubble and perhaps killing enough jobs to tip the anemic Obama economy into an outright recession. (It doesn’t help that the Federal Reserve has been talking about ending the quantitative easing monetary policies that have been propping up this economy for years.) The Democrats could not afford to properly draft and debate correcting legislation in Congress, the way American government is supposed to work, because that would give their opponents a platform to remind voters just how wretched ObamaCare is, portraying the latest failure as a good reason to junk the entire system. The point of all this is to squeak through the midterm elections without forcing vulnerable congressional Democrats to stand up as defenders of legislation the public has never stopped hating.
But in another sense, this is really nothing new. ObamaCare has been falling apart since the moment it was passed. All those hasty backroom deals and special kickbacks during the chaotic and secretive passage of the bill were concessions that its central premises were flawed. It had to be mutated in a thousand different ways before it could ooze out of Congress and afflict the rest of us.
It didn’t take long before the first limbs started dropping off the ObamaCare zombie. Remember the 1099 reporting requirements for business expenses? That little tendril of ObamaCare was supposed to squeeze millions in funding out of small businesses, while increasing their paperwork burden tenfold. The ruinous burden of compliance with this requirement met with understandable resistance from the business community, so it went away.
Then we got the tidal wave of special waivers to politically connected business interests and unions, including a remarkable number of luxury boutiques that just happened to be located in then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district. Every one of those precious waivers as an admission that ObamaCare doesn’t work. More rotting flesh fell away from the zombie, but it shambled forward.
If you think ObamaCare lacks class, you’re absolutely right, because the CLASS Act was rubbed out in the “fiscal cliff” deal at the beginning of this year. This was an absurdly under-funded long-term care program that everyone knew would collapse into a fiscal black hole, pretty much from Day One. Its overpriced benefits were inferior to private-sector alternatives. No one mourned its quiet death.
Remember all those promises about insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions? A pilot program was created by ObamaCare to provide such coverage. Even though only a quarter of the anticipated beneficiaries enrolled in the program, it was consumed by cost overruns; its $5 billion in initial funding is already gone. The program had to hastily restructured by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to dramatically cut payments to providers.
Another controversial ObamaCare funding mechanism is the medical device excise tax, which is poised to deliver a $30 billion knockout blow to the people who make all that lovely equipment doctors use. ObamaCare has tons of money to spend on spreading propaganda, hiring bureaucrats, and beefing up the IRS, while actual doctors and their supporting industries are mercilessly shaken down for cash. There’s a strong movement to repeal this onerous tax, with assistance from no small number of nervous Democrats who represent districts where medical manufacturers are major employers. The House voted in favor of repeal in early June, with 37 Democrats joining the 270-146 majority. The Senate passed a nonbinding motion in favor of repeal by 70-20 – joined by none other than socialist hero and class warrior extraordinaire Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at the last minute, after prodding from medical device companies in her state. Despite this, the Obama Administration continues to oppose repeal… although as we now know, the President could use his new powers to wipe out the tax by fiat at any time, or maybe just delay its implementation for a century or so.
Shots to the body won’t drop the ObamaCare zombie; only a repeal bullet to the head will put it down for good. You, the little people of America – the individuals who have been gritting your teeth while you watched your insurance premiums skyrocket, and your favorite plans disappear entirely – don’t have high-powered lobbyists, and the Democrats take the votes of their supporters for granted, so you won’t be getting any relief unless ObamaCare is repealed in its entirety. As you head to your Fourth of July parties this weekend to celebrate your largely theoretical “independence,” you might want to reflect that President Obama just gave your employer a very good reason to cancel your insurance coverage and dump you into the public exchanges… which are the part of the law that its author, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), referred to as a “train wreck,” right before he decided not to run for re-election. Enjoy your barbecue.