Liberal columnist 'getting sick' of defending Obamacare

Ron Fournier, one of Obamacare's staunchest defenders, wants us to know he is "getting sick" of defending the law, writing that it was "getting difficult and slinking toward impossible" to advocate for it.

National Journal:

For the second time in a year, certain businesses were given more time before being forced to offer health insurance to most of their full-time workers. Employers with 50 to 99 workers were given until 2016 to comply, two years longer than required by law. During a yearlong grace period, larger companies will be required to insure fewer employees than spelled out in the law.

Not coincidentally, the delays punt implementation beyond congressional elections in November, which raises the first problem with defending Obamacare: The White House has politicized its signature policy.

The win-at-all-cost mentality helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation. It spurred advisers to develop a dishonest talking point-"If you like your health plan, you'll be able to keep your health plan." And political expediency led Obama to repeat the line, over and over and over again, when he knew, or should have known, it was false.

Defending the ACA became painfully harder when online insurance markets were launched from a multibillion-dollar website that didn't work, when autopsies on the administration's actions revealed an epidemic of incompetence that began in the Oval Office and ended with no accountability.

Then officials started fudging numbers and massaging facts to promote implementation, nothing illegal or even extraordinary for this era of spin. But they did more damage to the credibility of ACA advocates.

Finally, there are the ACA rule changes-27 major adjustments, according to Fox News, without congressional approval. J. Mark Iwry, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for health policy, said the administration has broad "authority to grant transition relief" under a section of the Internal Revenue Code that directs the Treasury secretary to "prescribe all needful rules and regulations for the enforcement" of tax obligations, according to The New York Times.

Yes, Obamacare is a tax.

Advocates for a strong executive branch, including me, have given the White House a pass on its rule-making authority, because implementing such a complicated law requires flexibility. But the law may be getting stretched to the point of breaking. Think of the ACA as a game of Jenga: Adjust one piece and the rest are affected; adjust too many and it falls.

If not illegal, the changes are fueling suspicion among Obama-loathing conservatives, and confusion among the rest of us. Even the law's most fervent supporters are frustrated.

We feel your pain, Ron - I wish you felt ours.

The fig leaf of using an obscure IRS rule to unilaterally alter the ACA is, as you point out, stretching the law "to the breaking point." It's not a question of "Obama-loathing conservatives" who are disgusted, it's also level-headed commenters and pundits who are sounding the alarm about Obama's executive power grabs.

And the rule being used to justify these changes almost certainly makes no mention of altering the law for the most cynical of political purposes. It's not that the government isn't ready to enforce the employer mandate. It's that the effects of the mandate would crush the Democrats in the 2014 mid terms. Using the law for such blatant political reasons is almost certainly illegal - as you point out.

If you're getting sick and tired of defending Obamacare, why not change course and start advocating for repeal and replace? The effects of the law are just beginning to be felt which does not bode well for the economy or for people's health insurance options.


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