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


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.


    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.

    • 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?

  • bygeorge

    Part of Obama’s success is a result of conditioning. Do you remember the experiment in behavioral conditioning by Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov? It’s in full flower now as demonstrated by today’s Republican Party. It may be recalled that in his experiment, Pavlov rang a bell whenever he fed the dog. He demonstrated that through conditioning, by ringing the bell, the dog would salivate in anticipation of his meal whether the meal was served or not; and so goes our GOP moderates.

    The Democrats throw a word, phrase or dumb idea into the public discourse and like ringing a bell, the GOP salivates at a new meal, not once considering the meal to be poisonous but they set about arguing over how to get the nasty taste out of the product. That’s what we see coming with the smoking collapse of Obamacare. There are no Republican fingerprints on that evil product so why are Republicans offering ideas to save it? Because the Democrats rang the bell. No, no, no, no!

    Those in the GOP who were put there by America’s Tea Parties, and who are doing our work to save America, i.e.: Rand, Cruz, Lee, Broun, Graves, Collins, Issa, et. al., are called “extremists”, “terrorists”, anti-American and worse. Ring the bell and immediately up jumps that silly old geriatric “wacko” fool, John McCain followed by his shadow Lindsay Graham agreeing with America’s enemy. Democratic politicians like that idiot from Florida, Alan Grayson, even try to compare the Tea Party with the KKK, an original Democrat creation with no Republican fingerprints on it, ever.

    Not content with trying to halt the collapse of Obamacare, the Democrats once again ring the bell with “comprehensive immigration” and the Republicans are falling all over themselves trying to agree. America does not need millions of new peasants to supply the work force when millions of Americans, already here, are thrown out of work. Follow the money on this one: new peasant labor is cheaper, will vote Democrat and will ruin any chance for black American’s to move up into the middle class while forcing more middle class Americans into peasantry. But, not to worry, we will all get free medical care, Obama promised!

    And where is the loud Republican voice calling for accountability for the administrations criminal acts that brought us Fast and Furious (Holder), the Black Panther precinct abusers (Holder), the Benghazi murders (H. Clinton), the IRS scandal (Lerner) and the NSA spying debacle (Obama)? Leave it to Issa! We all know what the problems are. We see them, we instinctively understand them, talk about them and write our congressmen about them, but we see no action and then those events are overshadowed by other events until we are buried in government sponsored crap.

    There is a basic principle of human nature missing in the calculations here called “Character”. Obama’s administration is, prima facia, a criminal organization and character is not to be expected from that quarter. Our moderate Republicans politicians don’t have it. Sen. Johnny Isakson doesn’t have it, certainly John McCain, once a military hero, sold out and he doesn’t have it. When an elected politician spends longer that twelve years in congress and comes out a multi-millionaire, then the question of character must be raised. Politicians who vote for bills that ultimately enrich themselves, such as the Agricultural Bill, can be subject to charges of ethics and criminal violations. To enjoy the liberty that being an American has given us, politicians must realize their limitations in governing. Voting to move America into the socialist camp of central planning, already a fiasco, and one size fits all health care planning, is delusional and destructive to character and the human spirit. We’ve got to stop ringing the damn bell.