The Obama administration today announced that it will once again unilaterally amend the statutory provisions of the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by delaying enforcement until 2016 of the health insurance coverage mandate levied against “medium-sized” companies (politically and arbitrarily defined as employing between 50 and 99 personnel).
This marks the second time in the past year that President Obama has delayed implementation of portions of his hallmark legislation – you remember, the law that is so awesome it required such expediency to implement as to not require the lawmakers actually read it. In fact, this law is so critical to public health, and so benign to the economy – as its proponents repeatedly insisted – that this most recent executive change marks at least its 27th significant alteration since initially passing, some procedurally correct and others not so much. At least 10 of these changes have illegally come from the Obama administration itself.
Where exactly does the constitutional authority exist – in Article II or elsewhere – that grants the Executive Branch a power to unilaterally alter, delay, suspend, abolish, or otherwise ignore statutory provisions of duly passed and signed legislation? The simple answer is nowhere, as the Constitution is quite explicit in this regard: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives” (emphasis added). The chief executive’s very existence is predicated on faithful execution of those laws. In point of fact, Mr. Obama himself swore to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States,” its chief duty being this function. I will leave it to the readers to decide if he is a liar or simply “that the way [he] put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate.”
Of course, there can be little credible doubt that the timeframe of this most recent delay is largely motivated by electoral politics. Savvy Democrats understand that as businesses began laying off workers, slashing labor hours, and dropping coverage prior to the 2014 mid-terms, in similar fashion as what occurred with self-insured individuals last fall, political heads would have likely rolled in November. The question is, will the electorate recognize this ploy for what it truly is: a temporary reprieve from the painful inevitable; sooner or later this piper must receive his payment.
Whether or not the administration wishes to explicitly acknowledge it, this latest can-kicking is yet another public admission of the act’s devastatingly destructive impact on the economy, including real workers and real businesses, even before it is fully and appreciably implemented. I wonder how long this charade can be maintained to prevent political hardship. Ultimately, however, the real economic results are simply not going to change.
UPDATE (6 March 2014): …And the administration’s trend of unilaterally delaying/suspending actual execution of the law continues because, well, winning elections is far more important than implementing this purportedly economically and morally crucial law. Remember, this is the law that was so critical to Americans’ health and welfare and America’s prosperity that it had to be passed immediately in the middle of the night without an open, public debate or indeed anyone actually reading it. Elections talk and we all know what walks…
UPDATE (25 March 2014): …And again.