- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A top White House official on Tuesday accused Republicans of hypocrisy for their criticism of the most recent Obamacare delay.

A day after the Obama administration announced that the law’s employer mandate will be put off for another year, Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, said the GOP should embrace the president’s willingness to be flexible in implementing his most significant piece of domestic legislation.

“The Republican criticism is that the president is taking into account the need to lessen disruptions to small business and employers. Do you have any question that if we had not made those adjustments the criticism would’ve been coming completely from the other direction?” Mr. Sperling said at a Washington breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

He added, “I find it unusual that the president goes out of his way and his team goes out of its way to have a smoother transition to new policies with less disruption for small business and Republicans are complaining about that. That to me feels like — the only thing consistent about the position is they consistently look for every possible way to criticize” Obamacare.

Businesses initially were required to provide coverage for their employees this year but the administration last year pushed that deadline back to 2015. On Monday, it pushed it back another year, giving companies with 50 to 99 employees until 2016 to offer health care coverage.

Republican critics on Capitol Hill have slammed not only the delays, but Mr. Obama’s unilateral changes to deadlines written into the law, which they say is intended to minimize the health care law’s political fallout.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Mr. Sperling also praised the notion of House Republicans bringing to the floor a clean extension of the nation’s debt limit with no strings attached.

“Continuing to have an annual drama over whether our country may face default is harmful for our economic confidence at large,” Mr. Sperling said. “It is harmful for the reputation of the United States around the world and our hope would be we, as a country, have now reached a consensus, and while we continue to battle mightily on the budget … the tactic of threatening default of threatening the full faith and credit of the United States for budget debates is over, off the table, and never to happen again.”

While praising Republicans’ willingness to embrace a clean debt-ceiling bill, Mr. Sperling also took pointed shots at the tea party, blaming the conservative bloc for impeding progress.

“There is one faction of one party in one house that, I think, has made progress more difficult on things like finding a budget agreement, on immigration reform, and I think that has discouraged the type of compromise that is essential for making forward movement when you have divided government,” he said.


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