On July 2, 2013, the Treasury Department announced a major change in the application of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more popularly known as “Obamacare”:
“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively…We have listened to your feedback. And we are taking action.
“The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin.”
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In short: The administration allowed employers an additional year to refuse providing healthcare to their employees–or to face fines for not doing so.
And how did Obama’s self-declared enemies react to this effort at compromise?
On July 30, 2013, House Republicans voted to proceed with a lawsuit against the President–for failing to enforce the Affordable Care Act.
“In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it,” House Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement.
“That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”
Thus, Boehner intended to sue the President to enforce the law that the House had voted 54 times to repeal, delay or change.
Obama Mistake No. 5: Believing that public and private employers would voluntarily comply with the law.
The ACA requires employers to provide insurance for part-time employees who work more than 30 hours per week. Yet many government employers claim they can’t afford it–and have thus limited part-time workers’ hours to 29 per week instead.
Among those states affected:
- “Our choice was to cut the hours or give [employees] health care, and we could not afford the latter,” Dennis Hanwell, the Republican mayor of Medina, Ohio, said in an interview with The New York Times.
- Lawrence County, in western Pennsylvania, reduced the limit for part-time employees to 28 hours a week, from 32.
- In Virginia, part-time state employees are generally not allowed to work more than 29 hours a week on average over a 12-month period.
President Obama and those who crafted the Act may have been surprised at what happened. But they shouldn’t have been.
Greed-addicted officials will always seek ways to avoid complying with the law–or achieve minimum compliance with it. And what goes for public employers goes for private ones, too.
The Act doesn’t penalize a company for failing to provide health insurance coverage for part-time employees who work fewer than 30 hours.
The result was predictable. And its consequences are daily becoming more clear:
- Increasing numbers of employers are moving fulltime workers into part-time positions;
- Refusing to provide their employees with medical insurance; and
- Avoiding fines for non-compliance with the law.
Some employers have openly shown their contempt for President Obama–and the idea that employers have an obligation to those who make their profits a reality.
One of these is John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, who has been quoted as saying:
- The prices of his pizzas will go up–by 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order; and
- He will pass along these costs to his customers.
“If Obamacare is in fact not repealed,” he told Politico, “we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.”
If President Obama were truly a student of Realpolitick, he would have predicted that most businesses would try to avoid compliance with the ACA.
And the remedy would have been simple: Require all employers to provide insurance coverage for all of their employees, regardless of their fulltime or part-time status.
This, in turn, would have produced two substantial benefits:
- All employees would have been able to obtain medical coverage; and
- Employers would have been encouraged to provide fulltime positions rather than part-time ones.
The reason: Employers would feel: “Since I’m paying for fulltime insurance coverage, I should be getting fulltime work in return.”
If the President ever considered the merits of this, he decided against pressing for such a requirement.
Obama is one of the most rational and educated men to occupy the White House. So why did he fail to expect the worst in people–especially his self-declared enemies–and arrange to counter it?
Niccolo Machiavelli provides a shrewd insight into the repeated failures of the Obama Presidency.
Writing in The Prince, his classic work on the realities of politics, Machiavelli states:
…He is happy whose mode of procedure accords with the needs of the times, and similarly, he is unfortunate whose mode of procedure is opposed to the times….
If it happens that time and circumstances are favorable to one who acts with caution and prudence he will be successful But if time and circumstances change he will be ruined, because he does not change the mode of this procedure.
Put another way: A conciliator will prosper so long as he works with others willing to compromise. But facing uncompromising fanatics, he will be defeated–unless he can exchange conciliation for confrontation.