Now that it’s irrefutably obvious to everyone that the Oct. 1 rollout of Obamacare has been — and remains — a stillborn disaster, all the evil conservative talk about delaying the health plan during the government shutdown farce has become more palatable for Democratic leaders who, only days ago, were unwavering in their hasty support of keeping the program on schedule.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reversed course Monday, telling reporters the Administration of President Barack Obama could opt, even now, to push back the deadline for mandatory individual healthcare coverage if the glitchy, inaccurate healthcare.gov website continues to shut out the few would-be applicants from completing their enrollment, or provides them pricing information that changes after their enrollments have been completed.
From FOX News:
Carney was peppered with questions on whether the administration would be open to delaying the requirement on individuals to buy health insurance, if the website continues to lock out would-be customers. Echoing Obama, Carney said repeatedly that the country is just three weeks into a six-month enrollment process and suggested it’s too early to make any decisions of that magnitude.
But he did not close the door on the option.
Asked if the administration is looking for flexibility in applying the mandate, Carney said: “Whatever conclusions you draw about the way the law is written, I think you can draw. The law is clear that if you do not have access to affordable health insurance, then you will not be asked to pay a penalty because you haven’t purchased affordable health insurance.”
None of that points unequivocally toward a delay in Obama’s implementation of the law for regular people. But it does represent a sea change from the hard-line rhetoric Democrats deployed against conservative Congressmen who called for a delay or defunding during the debt limit standoff. The White House’s new, soft language that entertains all options owes chiefly to the President’s debt ceiling victory over a confused and impotent Senate GOP caucus.
Now that Obama holds the momentary upper hand in framing the upcoming second round of budget fights along Democratic Party talking points, the idea of delaying the individual mandate clearly seems more palatable for the President. But if recent history is any indication, don’t expect that to last.
A political problem has appeared: With the Obamacare rollout already nearly a month behind schedule, a Republican is floating a bill to delay the law’s mandatory individual enrollment. And that could easily lure the Obama Administration and its Congressional servants, like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) into a partisan fight that tosses the best interests of the American people out the window (once again). Democrats won’t concede to any piece of legislation, no matter how sensible or beneficial (even to the beleaguered President himself), that smells like a political assassination from the right.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has a point: You can’t change the rules of the game on people after the game has started. After all, would you expect your landlord to pay you a prorated amount of the rent you’d overpaid if he decided to kick you out in the middle of the month? The law would.
“How are you going to go after people next year using the IRS to punish them if the thing you’re forcing them to buy isn’t available for them?” Rubio argued. “So the law I’m going to introduce basically delays that requirement until the [Government Accountability] Office has certified that it’s been up and running and effectively working for six months consecutive,” Rubio added. “I think that’s a prudent approach given the problems that it’s facing by the White House’s own admission.”
Of course it is. But any early GOP attempt to solve Obamacare’s most immediate problem — the problem of forcing Americans to hold up their end of the deal, even as the government effectively pleads for more time — is only setting Congress up for an imminent repeat of the partisan debt limit fight it had temporarily “solved” only a week ago. And that benefits no one — including Congress.