Ken Klukowski is Director, Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Breitbart.com, July 2, 2013.
Obama administration officials are illegally delaying enforcement of a central provision in the president's namesake legislation in a desperate attempt to manipulate the 2014 midterm elections and swell the ranks of those who look to government for healthcare.
The White House is beginning to sense that when Americans realize the price of "free" healthcare, they're likely to take swift vengeance on those responsible.
Section 1513 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, better known as Obamacare) requires all large employers to provide health insurance for their employees. "Large employers" are those with at least 50 full-time employees, and "full-time" is defined as averaging 30 or more hours per week.
Section 1513's "Employer Mandate" is one of five parts of the ACA that are absolutely essential for this government-run system to work, with the most well-known of those five being the infamous "Individual Mandate" upheld by the Supreme Court as a tax by a controversial 5-4 decision in 2012.
And the Employer Mandate is mandatory. The law Congress wrote explicitly commands that this provision takes effect in January 2014. The ACA does not permit the government to grant a reprieve or an extension.
Yet in a blatantly illegal move, the Obama administration is presuming to rewrite the ACA by choosing not to enforce provisions that are causing visible problems. The IRS-which is tasked with enforcing the Employer Mandate-will simply not enforce it until 2015. Every large employer in the country is under the mandate. If they don't comply, then they are breaking federal law.
But the IRS not enforcing Section 1513 is like a policeman who patrols a stretch of road who says for the next year, he won't issue any speeding tickets. He has no authority to suspend the law, but if he chooses to violate his duty by failing to enforce the law, then to all the motorists on the road it's as if the law does not exist.
However, the White House is doing nothing to stop Section 1501's Individual Mandate. Almost every American is still being commanded to buy insurance or face a penalty (now called a "tax" by the Supreme Court). If you work at a large company, you might be on your own and need to buy insurance somewhere else.
This will force millions of Americans instead to purchase insurance on government-run healthcare exchanges. Not able to get insurance at work, and not able to buy full-price policies on the individual market because of the enormous increase in prices resulting from the ACA's laundry list of new entitlements and mandates, these individuals will buy it on a state-based exchange where the prices are heavily subsidized by taxpayers.
It's worth noting that the ACA only subsidizes insurance policies on an exchange run by a state. Yet 34 states have refused to join this government-run debacle, so in those states the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will set them up.
This is why the IRS issued a regulation last year saying that these tax credits for state-run exchanges also extend to HHS-run exchanges. Several lawsuits are now underway challenging the IRS Rule, and they should quickly lead to federal courts striking down the regulation.
In the meantime, though, this will drive millions of Americans onto government-run healthcare, conditioning them to think of it as an entitlement. By promising them all the benefits now but delaying the massive costs until after the 2014 midterm election, Obama and his team hope to buy themselves a couple years to make this system work.
Bad policy makes for bad politics, however; sooner or later everyone has to pay the piper. Maybe Obama will delay the most onerous parts of Obamacare until after the 2014 elections in an attempt to keep the Senate and retake the House, but it might take a miracle to keep this shell game going until after the 2016 election, when voters decide on a new president and what direction we take as a nation.
Whether Obamacare remains the law of the land will be at the center of that national discussion for 2016. Suspending the Employer Mandate just added to that debate.