- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

President Obama’s postelection to-do list is getting longer.

The president has pushed back until after the election decisions on a host of high-profile issues related to Obamacare insurance premiums, immigration, the Keystone XL pipeline and his cabinet, prompting critics to accuse him of hiding his policies from the voters until it’s too late.

“You know your policies are deeply unpopular when all governing and key decisions go on hold until after the election,” Levi Russell, spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, said in a Tuesday statement. “Endless delays in Obamacare, Keystone and now an attorney general nomination suggest this administration is governing based on poll numbers and focus groups rather than an executive branch that actually has a plan.”

The Healthcare.gov website won’t open for the 2015 enrollment until Nov. 15, meaning that those interested in buying health insurance on the Obamacare exchange won’t know how much rates will increase until after the Nov. 4 vote.

Meanwhile, a White House aide told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the president won’t select a nominee to replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. until after Nov. 4, setting up a potentially contentious confirmation vote during a lame-duck session before newly elected Senate members take their seats in January.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the lead Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Democrats want to “avoid making clear to the voters of their states where they stand on what could be a controversial choice for attorney general.”

“This timing shows, once again, that the president and Democrat Senate leaders are willing to play politics with important policy decisions,” Mr. Grassley said.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he would “anticipate that it will take a little bit of time for the work to be done to determine who the right person is for that important task.”

Still, news of the postponed nomination comes with the administration already under fire for pushing decisions past the Nov. 4 vote, which comes as Mr. Obama’s low approval ratings threaten to drag down Democratic candidates in tight races.

Critics rolled their eyes when the administration announced that premium rates on the Obamacare exchange won’t be available until Nov. 15, the day the Healthcare.gov website is scheduled to begin its enrollment period for 2015.

“This is more than just a glitch,” said Tim Phillips, president of the free market group Americans for Prosperity, in a statement. “The administration’s decision to withhold the costs of this law until after Election Day is just more proof that Obamacare is a bad deal for Americans.”

Last year’s inaugural exchange opened Oct. 1, leading Republicans to conclude that the administration is attempting to avoid more bad headlines prior to the election. The 2014 rollout was plagued by computer glitches and general confusion.

At the same time, Ed Haislmaier, Heritage Foundation senior research fellow for health policy studies, said that the administration may well have needed more time to work out the kinks in the system.

“Politically, there was a lot of motivation to push this off beyond the election when they did so back in the spring, and everybody called them on it,” said Mr. Haislmaier. “They were using the excuse that the carriers needed more time, because they were still digging out from the 2013-14 mess, and there was some legitimacy to that.”

Mr. Obama has also been criticized for placing another delay in April on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, citing ongoing litigation on the proposed route in Nebraska. The project has split the Democratic Party, with labor unions supporting its construction but environment groups opposing it.

In September, the president said he would move his anticipated executive order on immigration reform until the first of the year, pushing another hot-button issue to the back burner until after the Nov. 4 vote.

On the species front, the Fish and Wildlife Service received in May a six-month extension on its final ruling on listing the Gunnison sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. That decision, now slated for Nov. 12, has been controversial in the West because of its implications for restricting energy development, agriculture and ranching.

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