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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

POTUS Barack Obama's Evolution From Lawmaker To Law Eraser!

Obama's evolution from lawmaker to law-eraser

“No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are.” — Sen. Barack Obama

The above quote was delivered in August 2007 by then-Sen. Obama in a sweeping foreign policy speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center. It is one of myriad speeches he gave as Candidate Obama that now-President Obama would likely campaign against if he had the chance. Candidate Obama showed disdain for those who skirt the law. President Obama? Not so much.

Last week in classic holiday news dumping style, the Obama administration delayed the employer mandate until 2015, a key provision in the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it is better known. (What’s happening in November 2014 again?) This provision has been an absolute disaster area for those who support government involvement in our health decisions. At its core, this provision requires that businesses employing 50 or more people give all employees working 30 hours a week or more, full health coverage.

Seems harmless enough, right? After all, we can all agree Americans should have access to affordable health care. But the law of unintended consequences has taken over. Companies like Applebee’s, which employ many waiters at around 25 to 35 hours a week, felt they had little choice but to keep these employees at 29 hours a week. Their budgets don’t account for an increase like adding thousands of previously considered part-time employees onto their insurance rolls. Remember, the goal of business is to make a profit, not to offer health insurance.

Business groups had been pleading with the administration to halt this law, which is a key part of making Obamacare work. And so, President Obama had to look Candidate Obama squarely in the eyes and laugh in his face. President Obama would likely say Candidate Obama, who felt we shouldn’t ignore the law when it is inconvenient, just doesn’t understand the realities of governing.

In order to delay the employer mandate, President Obama did not go to Congress to make changes to his law. Admittedly, Republicans are not going to be terribly helpful in this endeavor, but can you blame them? They got the law shoved down their throats with no influence over its contents (these were the early bully days of the Obama administration when its key players were openly believing their own press) and want nothing to do with it beyond repeal. They know without the employer mandate, Obamacare is destined to essentially become a single-payer system with all Americans invested in the public exchanges set up under the legislation. Remove the employer mandate from

Obamacare and you’ve removed competition from a huge portion of the U.S. marketplace. You can pretty much count all Republicans out on that adventure, including this one.

 Some will tell you Obama’s executive order to delay the mandate is completely constitutional, that presidents have been making adjustments to our laws through this process for years. While that may be true in spirit, most Americans would agree that passing your own law just to make countless major changes to it later is not what was intended for the use of executive orders.
 
This sort of reckless approach to governing is what got us the memorable “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it” trope from then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. This is the kind of precedent that inspires slippery slopers to feel justified in their concerns about the abuse of government power. If this is how Washington is going to operate, why does it matter what any bill looks like upon passage? They’d all become living documents.

And it’s far from the only complication from Obamacare. Here are three of my favorites:

• The CLASS Act, which was created to provide long-term care for those without the necessary means, was scrapped in October of 2011 when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius suspended it because of a lack of financial viability.

• As part of the Affordable Care Act passed by a super-majority of Democrats in Congress, insurers are required to cover children with pre-existing conditions. A noble part of the bill, except that there was no requirement for insurance companies to carry child-only insurance. This is surely a casualty of passing the bill before we found out what was in it.

• The 1099 requirement that would have forced businesses to report every health care transaction of $600 or more was the first to be repealed. Why your health care choices would have ever been the business of your place of employment is beyond this humble correspondent’s understanding.

Ultimately, we must ask ourselves why we needed to so quickly find a solution to a problem that had been plaguing us for decades. Wouldn’t it have been better to try some common sense solutions like allowing for the sale of insurance across state lines and comprehensive tort reform along with federal-state partnerships that would protect those with pre-existing conditions? Instead, we decided to overhaul a system broken for decades practically overnight and without any real consideration of the words we put into law.

Knowing he would need to make changes to that law after the fact, Candidate Obama would likely never have agreed to this process for health reform. He was clearly against ignoring or changing laws because of inconvenience.

O, how times have changed.
Brad Cummings is COO of PM Advertising, and he previously served as Jefferson County Republican Party chairman. His column appears every third Wednesday. He can be reached at bradford.cummings@gmail.com

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