Congress, Not The President, Can Delay Obamacare’s Individual Mandate

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It appears as though President Barack Obama has decided to delay the individual mandate for Obamacare enrollment by up to six weeks.

But that’s a violation of the Affordable Care Act.

As The Washington Times noted Wednesday, the President is the enforcer of the law that Congressional Democrats passed — not the editor:

Even if Obama wanted to extend the open enrollment period, he wouldn’t be allowed to without an act of Congress — at least if he wants to follow the law he signed.

Though the health care law granted the Secretary of Health and Human Services discretion to define dates for the open enrollment period to occur each year, it also specified that the initial enrollment period (i.e. the current one) had to be announced by July 1, 2012.

Specifically, Section 1311 of the healthcare law reads, “ENROLLMENT PERIODS: The Secretary shall require an Exchange to provide for– (A) an initial open enrollment, as determined by the Secretary (such determination to be made not later than July 1, 2012).”

Given that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has already determined that the enrollment period must end on March 31 — and nearly 16 months has passed since she made that determination — extending the period would require an act of Congress to change the law.

Of course, the rule of law hasn’t stopped the Obama Administration from cherry-picking which parts of Obamacare to roll out — and which parts to exclude for groups the Chicago Tribune calls “special pleaders” — before now. In July, the Administration let big businesses off the hook for one year. Then in September, the President promised small businesses and Spanish speakers a one-year reprieve. Labor unions — Obama’s most ardent cheerleaders in 2008 and 2012 — continue to pressure the President to grant them exemptions, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) remains convinced that will eventually happen.

For any delay to be lawful, it must be amended by Congress in the law itself or abrogated altogether by repeal or replacement. Congress is taking baby steps in the direction of amending the law to allow for an individual delay, with Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) drawing up competing bills that would waive the individual mandate.

Democrats are at least smart enough to disembark a sinking ship, momentarily at least, during an election cycle. CNN’s Dana Bash tweeted Wednesday that every Senate Democrat who’s running for re-election in 2014 will also support a one-year delay — even though their support would likely come in the form of pressuring Obama to circumvent the law, once again, by simply announcing the delay without any action on the part of Congress.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Vigilant

    Congress long ago gave up any pretense that they are interested in the “checks and balances” of our Republic. Obama’s feet have never been held to the Constitutional fire. Once again, Congress will allow him to trample on the Constitution.

  • peter

    Following laws that he signed into being exonerates him totally from following those rules and laws. He can declare a ‘fatwa’ anytime he pleases, without consent or approval. As a muslim, he is beyond scrutiny. The muslims say they are non-violent, they just don’t practice that attribute. Within the next decade the muslims will control both the UK and the USA. That is a fact and then the infidels will find out just how wrong they were about the motives and concerns of the Islamists. Be prepared, nothing is going to get any better for us infidels.

  • steve

    it’s okay when your a dictator. the brother is in control.

  • FOXY FREDDIE FUXSUCKER

    Add to this his litany of illegal ex. orders, abuse of ex. privilege in Fast & Furious scandal, illegally going into Libya without Congressional approval, illegally giving arms to rebels (many Al-Qaeda linked) in Syria, illegally giving 1.5 Billion to Egyptian military after a coup…..YADDA, YADDA, YADDA!!!!!!!

    Alas, he gets away with it because the feckless, ball-less GOP lets him!!! I like Cruz & Lee & Paul, but rather than grandstanding before Congress about defunding ObummerCare, or forcing Congress into having to get it, they should be constantly filing lawsuits over these illegal actions by Obummer!!!

  • Chaz

    I think Republicans are setting a bad example by not challenging this in a court of law. This is bad precedent. Whats next? Obama could announce he thinks the 15% tax rate is too low and thus changes it to 20%. Why not, if he is allowed to extend dates why not change a substantive part of a law. I do not believe executive orders give the president the right to change laws where congress did not give that right to him within the law itself.

  • Chaz

    I think Republicans are setting a bad example by not challenging this in a court of law. This is bad precedent. Whats next? Obama could announce he thinks the 15% tax rate is too low and thus changes it to 20%. Why not, if he is allowed to extend dates why not change a substantive part of a law. I do not believe executive orders give the president the right to change laws where congress did not give that right to him within the law itself.

    • vicki

      As you said, the President has no POWER to change a law unless Congress gave him that power within the law itself. But if the law is unpopular, who is going to challenge the president for doing so? This demonstrates that the ultimate power is in the hands of the people. WE decide if a law is right and moral. We decide if a law is Constitutional.

      The ultimate power is US.

      The tools we use are well known

      Soap Box
      Ballot Box
      Jury Box
      Ammo Box.

      The first 3 MUST be used as long as they are available.
      The 4th must NOT be used until it is the ONLY viable box.

    • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

      The :Little Boy Dictator and all the rest of them in the DC Cesspool…that is both factions of the Policians Party…do not want anything changed…

      Most of them have not followed the Constitution for many Decades….

  • Jeff Noncent

    if that’s the case than congress should do their work to defund the Scorpion care point and simple

  • Jana

    I think the reason no one is saying anything in DC except the newbies is because all of the old guard have dirt on their hands and Obama knows what it is. They have either been threatened with it or have been threatened that they will be heavily investigated if they don’t go along with whatever he says. Not all of them of course, but enough of the major players that are involved, so that they can and will keep the others in line.
    Obama has his enemies list for a reason and he uses it. Remember, he has his own private army, or his czars or whoever to do his dirty work.
    George Soros has enough money to have backed this project and is probably grooming the next President now. Hillary anyone?