“I am not a dictator; I’m the president …” — President Barack Obama on why he couldn’t work with Congress on budget sequestration, March 2013
President Barack Obama and his White House have attempted to blame the Administration’s failures and missteps on conservative politicians’ obstruction of Obama’s policy agenda more than a few times. But the latest White House decision to ignore the Administration’s own Obamacare deadlines reveals definitively that the President’s biggest stumbling block is his own ineptitude.
On Tuesday evening, the White House announced that it would make yet another provision of the Obamacare law meaningless by extending the enrollment deadline from March 31 to mid-April.
Via The Washington Post:
The Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline.
Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.
Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.
You read that right: If you have attempted to enroll in Obamacare prior to the March deadline but were unable to do so because the White House so terribly bungled the rollout, it’s all good. “Mea culpa,” says the President, just check the blue box and enroll away.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a surprisingly sensible statement Wednesday as he discussed the White House’s latest disregard for its own deadlines: “What the hell is this, a joke?”
And the GOP frustration is certainly warranted. Late last year, as a budget battle raged in Washington and the Obamacare rollout was beginning, a contingent of House GOP lawmakers who had been fighting Obamacare for years put forth legislation to delay the law for one year in order to give Congress time to work out some kinks in the pass-it-then-read-it legislation.
Obama so wanted his healthcare law to go into effect on schedule that he punished the American public when the “Republican government shutdown” matured from threat to reality.
Obama wouldn’t, the White House proclaimed, negotiate his healthcare law, the budget or the debt while Republicans were holding hostages.
The Obama Administration took some hostages of its own throughout the 16-day duration of the shutdown, shutting World War II veterans out of public memorials, shuttering national parks and cutting government workers’ pay. The Administration’s response to the GOP threat to delay the President’s law was so excessive, in fact, that many Americans wondered whether creating headaches for the public with things like barricades on public land actually cost more than government operations under regular conditions.
The House GOP finally gave in and backed off on demands for an Obamacare delay, partially thanks to a lack of Senate GOP support.
This would all be ancient political history if not for the Obama Administration’s unilateral and Constitutionally questionable actions since it became clear that a GOP-initiated — and legal — delay of the healthcare law was not going to happen.
Oct. 1, 2013 – Healthcare.gov launches.
Oct. 2, 2013 – Six enrollments had occurred. Healthcare.gov crashes. About 100 enrollments occur by day’s end.
Oct. 3, 2013 – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee notes: “As of yesterday, there were 248 enrollments.” Administration officials downplay major glitches and claim no enrollment numbers are available, which will become a reoccurring trend.
Oct. 16, 2013 – The Senate votes 81-18 to end the government shutdown. The House follows suit, voting 285-144 in favor of reopening government.
Oct. 17, 2013 – Obama signs a bill to reopen government.
Oct. 23, 2013 – Obama Administration continues to avoid questions about Obamacare problems and enrollment numbers. The White House unilaterally extends the deadline to buy coverage without a penalty to March 31.
Nov. 14, 2013 – Obama offers a “fix” for millions of Americans receiving insurance cancellation notices due to his healthcare overhaul: unilaterally changing his law to grandfather plans that were initially declared subpar by Obamacare standards.
Nov. 21, 2013 – The Administration delays Obamacare open enrollment for 2015 by one month so that Democrats running in 2014 are not massacred by negative press.
Nov. 27, 2013 – The President decides to again break his own law and delay the small-business Obamacare exchange for another year.
Dec. 1, 2013 – The Administration launches a “fixed” Healthcare.gov.
Dec. 12, 2013 – Deadline for Obamacare coverage beginning on Jan. 1 is extended by the White House until Dec. 23.
Dec. 18, 2013 – The White House attempts to boost enrollment numbers by working out a plan to count Americans who have enrolled in, but not paid for, Obamacare.
Dec. 23, 2013 – Deadline for Obamacare coverage beginning on Jan. 1 is extended by the White House until Dec. 24.
Dec. 24, 2013 – People attempting to enroll for Jan. 1 coverage, but kept from doing so by a broken enrollment site, are given more time.
Feb. 10, 2014 – Obama gives small businesses that meet certain conditions and have 50 to 100 employees an employer-mandate waiver until 2016.
March 5, 2014 – Obama tries to make good on his “keep your plan” promise. If your plan still exists, keep it until 2016. This is another ploy to protect vulnerable 2014 Democrats from cancellation headlines.
March 12, 2014 – Representative Kevin Brady (R-Texas) asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “Are you going to delay the mandate that individuals have to buy health care or pay a tax?”
Sebelius replied, “No sir.”
March 14, 2014 – The President extends enrollment deadlines for the third time, this time to give high-risk individuals more time to enroll in Obamacare.
March 25, 2014 – Final enrollment deadline is extended again.
Obama said during last year’s budget battle that Obamacare is the law of the land, so Republicans ought to just get over it and move on. And while delaying “the law of the land” would likely have given time for a bipartisan review of the law that may have eliminated many of the Obamacare kinks that have since presented, the President was adamant that the law would work only if it was implemented on schedule.
Today, Obamacare is off-schedule, it isn’t working and the President keeps moving the “lawful” deadlines that he put into place. This is the same man who ensured his party’s Senate majority wouldn’t budge an inch to move a thing, back when the Republicans were floating the (very sensible, as it turns out) idea.
The joke, it seems, is on anyone who believes that the office of the executive is still in any way burdened by Constitutional checks and balances.