Boehner Plans to Use Employer Mandate Delay to Attack Individual Mandate
The Republicans have already made it clear they want to make Obamacare a big issue in the 2014 election and they have found a clever way exploit President Obama’s decision to delay the employer mandate as part of this strategy. From Politico:
[Speaker John] Boehner on Tuesday discussed holding a pair of side-by-side votes to delay both the employer mandate and the individual mandate for one year. That could force Democrats to go on the record supporting a one-year reprieve from the law for employers but not for individuals and families. It would also send a message that House Republicans don’t believe the White House has the legal authority to not enforce a piece of the law for one year.
The third bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing or implementing the law. The agency has a role in determining who is eligible for subsidized insurance and who is penalized for not meeting the mandate.
This would be a smart political gambit on multiple levels if the Republicans can pull it off. One of the Democrats big attack against Republicans is that they only care about helping big business not regular people. This ploy would let Republicans try to flip that narrative on its head for a day. The message would be: “Democrats will help big corporations avoid burdensome new Obamacare costs but not regular Americans.”
On a more simplistic level the employer mandate is popular and the individual mandate is very unpopular. Delaying the popular stuff but not the unpopular stuff simply doesn’t look good. It especially looks bad because the individual mandate penalty is so small in the first year that there really isn’t a good policy reason why it can’t also be delayed for a year. Currently this is only Obama’s problem but if Republicans put it to a vote on the floor they also make it every House Democrats problem.
Obamacare was a big winner for Republicans in 2010 and they are betting heavily that it can be again in 2014.