- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 26, 2013

With passions running high over the fate of Obamacare, President Obama said Thursday there’s “no widespread evidence” his national health care program is hurting jobs, even as the administration announced another delay in implementing the law.

In spite of ongoing reports that businesses are cutting back worker hours because of Obamacare, and similar complaints from organized labor, Mr. Obama told students at Prince George’s Community College in Largo that the criticism isn’t true.

“They said this would be a disaster in terms of jobs,” Mr. Obama said. “There’s no widespread evidence that the Affordable Care Act is hurting jobs. Reforming health care is going to help the economy over the long term.”

But a survey by Investors Business Daily found that as of Wednesday, 313 employers nationwide had cut workers’ hours or positions in response to Obamacare’s employer mandate. The updated list includes 54 colleges and universities that have trimmed hours for adjunct faculty.

“All over the country, adjunct teaching loads are being limited to nine credit hours — just below the 30-hour threshold at which Affordable Care Act employer penalties hit,” IBD reported.

The president’s assertion also runs counter to union leaders who warned Congress in July that the health care reform plan is threatening to “destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

And despite an administration report this week that insurance rates in the program will be “lower than expected,” there’s other evidence that premiums will rise steeply. Researchers from the Manhattan Institute, a libertarian think tank, published an article in Forbes magazine Thursday showing that premiums will increase for younger men by an average of 97 percent to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 percent to 62 percent. In North Carolina, rates will triple for women and quadruple for men.

At virtually the same time Mr. Obama was defending his signature law and blasting the tea party for trying to undermine it, the administration revealed it is postponing for one month online enrollment in most of the small-business exchanges scheduled to open Tuesday.

Instead, business owners initially will have to mail or fax their information so that they can enroll.

Separately, the administration told Hispanic groups that the Spanish-language version of its healthcare.gov website will be not be ready to handle enrollments for a few weeks. An estimated 10 million Hispanics are eligible for coverage.

“Unbelievable,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. “Did anyone tell the president that his administration is delaying another piece of Obamacare before he tried swindling the American people again? It’s clear all Americans deserve a delay from this train wreck; maybe even more Democrats will get on board with Republican efforts now.”

The administration received more bad news when Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, said he would support a one-year delay in the health care law’s individual mandate.

Speaking at a Bloomberg Government breakfast, Mr. Manchin said he backed a stopgap funding resolution that puts the individual mandate on ice.

“There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Mr. Manchin said. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.”

Mr. Obama stepped up his criticism of conservatives for trying to repeal or defund the health care law, an effort that is reaching a climax in Congress.

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