The Fox News headline from yesterday was shocking: “White House won’t rule out delay of ObamaCare individual mandate.”
The White House appeared to leave the door open Monday to delaying the so-called individual mandate in the federal health care law, as President Obama acknowledged the main website for enrollment is not working as it should.
Press Secretary Jay Carney addressed concerns over the mandate at a press briefing shortly after Obama, in the Rose Garden, personally acknowledged failures with the HealthCare.gov site and vowed that “these problems are getting fixed.”
Carney was peppered with questions on whether the administration would be open to delaying the requirement on individuals to buy health insurance, if the website continues to lock out would-be customers. Echoing Obama, Carney said repeatedly that the country is just three weeks into a six-month enrollment process and suggested it’s too early to make any decisions of that magnitude.
But he did not close the door on the option.
Asked if the administration is looking for flexibility in applying the mandate, Carney said: “Whatever conclusions you draw about the way the law is written, I think you can draw. The law is clear that if you do not have access to affordable health insurance, then you will not be asked to pay a penalty because you haven’t purchased affordable health insurance.”
So when the Republicans demanded to delay the individual mandate for a year, Obama was presented with a face-saving miracle. He could have kept quiet about the problems in healthcare.gov, worked hard but quietly to get them fixed, and all the while blamed the vile Republicans for threatening the entire nation by the horrific government shutdown and holding the world economy hostage over the debt ceiling. In “exchange” for their cooperation with a budget and increasing the government’s debt load, Obama could have received a year of anti-Republican propaganda and also a much better rollout of the health plan for 2015.
So why all the grandstanding? I honestly don’t know. I tend to think of Obama or his handlers as cool and calculating in their decision-making. But nothing about this latest fight makes any strategic sense to me. Instead, it just seems like a decision motivated by rage. Obama hated giving the Republicans what they wanted even when it would help him cover up his incompetence.
Of course, if we “delay the mandate” what exactly can that mean? Insurance companies have already sent notices to thousands of customers, telling them that their policies are going to end on December 31. I don’t think that can be reversed at this point. So the only delay would be in the IRS fine.
Obama was offered a great deal and he refused to touch it.