Poor Democrats. An election looms and their Obamacare train wreck is deservedly being called the worst law in American history. Voters hate it, and why shouldn’t they? The Democrats’ promises — that patients could keep their doctors and current insurance and that the law would reduce premiums, lower the deficit and create millions of jobs — have been exposed as outright lies. Now a central tenet of the fundamentally flawed law, the employer mandate, is collapsing. What ever will Democrats do?
In a word: panic.
Actually, panic and break the law. The unambiguous start date for Obamacare’s employer mandate, according to Section 1513, is the “months beginning after Dec. 31, 2013.” With the delay, however, President Obama has declared that he is not bound by mere law. All he is missing are mirrored sunglasses and a big military hat.
Obamacare’s employer mandate is a microcosm of liberalism itself. What may sound good at first ends up harming the most vulnerable among us. Businesses that dare to provide jobs to 50 or more employees face steep fines unless they provide expensive government-sanctioned health insurance. Because Obamacare now defines 30 hours a week to be full time, the result is entirely predictable: Businesses are laying off workers and cutting back work hours.
Witness the rise of the Obamacare “Forty-Niners.” No, this is not some Keystone Kops version of a San Francisco football team. The Forty-Niners in the age of Obama is the class of struggling small businesses forced to keep their payroll below 50 full-time employees or face the Democrats’ wrath. If you are the 50th employee, good luck keeping your job.
Panicked Democrats are eager to avoid the spectacle of Obamacare layoffs during an election year. They couldn’t care less about the layoffs themselves or the families caught in the cross hairs, mind you. Otherwise, they would repeal the employer mandate altogether rather than simply delay it. The Democrats’ desperate political gambit won’t work, though, because the Obamacare layoffs already have begun and the backfire is about to begin.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the June jobs numbers reflect the Obamacare Forty-Niner trend. Part-time jobs in America have skyrocketed by 360,000 to an all-time high of more than 28 million, while full-time jobs are down by 240,000. As political humorist David Burge tweeted, “Unemployment report in a nutshell: the Taco Bell that had 30 40-hour workers now has 40 30-hour workers.”
The slow pull of this painful Band-Aid will not save the Democrats, and they know it. That was why they tried to bury their suspension announcement in a holiday weekend news dump. With the delay until January 2015, however, the layoffs are likely to accelerate right into the 2014 elections.
What’s more, suspension of the employer mandate confirms our worst suspicions of Obamacare and the lawless Democrats who forced it upon us. When they decide that laws are bothersome or difficult, they simply abandon them: the Class Act, government exchange deadlines, anti-conscience deadline, small-business plan choice deadline, basic health plan deadline, high-risk pool enrollment, etc. The administration has declared some of these as “unworkable.” Well, of course they are unworkable, just as the employer mandate is unworkable. Heck, the whole of Obamacare is unworkable, but a nation of laws does not behave in this lawless manner.
As an important aside, it is evident that Mr. Obama does not feel bound by the rule of law, much less his word. Before embarking on another train wreck in the making, the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill — the Obamacare version of amnesty — perhaps Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, or the others could explain why we should trust that Mr. Obama will not simply declare the promised border security, the new fence construction or the E-Verify provisions to be “unworkable” and similarly suspend them.
As for Obamacare and the Democrats’ election year ploy, it gets worse. By suspending the employers’ mandate to provide health insurance but leaving in place the individual mandate to purchase it, the Democrats have just demonstrated their utter contempt for the most vulnerable among us. “I am a 53-year-old widow,” writes one concerned woman, “and I can’t get health insurance so I will be fined? How does this make sense?”
Democrats’ desperate and lawless employer mandate surrender amounts to an admission that Obamacare itself is so fundamentally flawed that America needs another year to brace for the pain it inflicts. Why would the nation accept this fate? There’s still time to do what’s right: Repeal Obamacare in its entirety and start from scratch with proven patient-centered, market-based reform.
Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a radiologist and a contributor to The Washington Times.