Remember Nancy Pelosi's famous statement about Obamacare, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it"? It seems even the Obama White House is finding less and less to like about Obamacare as we learn more about what is in it.
Washington was stunned yesterday evening by news that the administration had suspended Obamacare's mandate that all companies with more than 50 employees must provide health insurance as ofJanuary 1st. Now that provision will not take effect until 2015.
The surprising move creates a lot of questions. Does the White House have the legal authority to suspend a portion of the law? As one liberal blogger wrote, "This is a regulatory end-run of the legislative process. The law says the mandate goes into effect in 2014, but the administration has decided to give it until 2015 by simply refusing to enforce the penalties."
How will this affect lawsuits by the Catholic Church and Hobby Lobby against the contraception mandate? How will it affect the implementation of the rest of the law?
What is clear is that Obamacare remains a deeply flawed law that is hurting the economy and stunting job creation.
Some on the left are trying to put a positive spin on the news, arguing that more flexibility is a good thing. Some are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief, thinking that a lot of pain to businesses and employees has been avoided in the upcoming election year.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director, said the suspension of the employer mandate beyond the 2014 elections was "deviously brilliant."
But this is far from a clear win for liberals. While the White House suspended the mandate for Big Business to provide health insurance, it did not suspend the mandate for individuals to have their own coverage. As James Capretta of The Weekly Standard writes:
- "The Obama administration therefore wants to let big businesses off of the hook but not hard-pressed working families. How do Democrats defend that position? And how do they vote against a bill to delay the individual mandate?"
Even supporters of Obamacare do not see this announcement as good news. The New York Times labeled the move "a significant setback." One proponent of Obamacare told the Times, "I am utterly astounded. It boggles the mind."
Speaker John Boehner responded to the news by saying:
- "The president's health care law is already raising costs and costing jobs. This announcement means even the Obama administration knows the 'train wreck' will only get worse. I hope the administration recognizes the need to release American families from the mandates of this law as well. This is a clear acknowledgment that the law is unworkable, and it underscores the need to repeal the law and replace it with effective, patient-centered reforms."
By the way, I couldn't help but remember that when Obamacare was being debated back in 2010, this legislation was treated like a national emergency. We had to pass it immediately. People were dying. Thus Pelosi's absurd statement about passing the bill and learning later what was in it.
If conservatives then had dared to suggest that the employer mandate should be delayed, they would have been castigated as heartless. (They were anyway.) But, once again, conservatives who then warned about a bad bill being rammed through Congress are being proven correct.
Obama's signature domestic achievement isn't the only thing unraveling today -- his foreign policy is coming undone too.
As the Arab Spring took root in Egypt, the Obama Administration and some Western journalists cheered the revolution against former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and sided with those demanding his ouster. Yet they had no idea who would replace him.
As many feared, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood quickly filled the power vacuum. Mohammed Morsi rushed to radically transform the government, consolidating power to himself. Tourism and business investment quickly dried up and Egypt's fragile economy collapsed.
In recent days, many Egyptians have risen up and taken to the streets demanding Morsi concede to major reforms or resign. So far he has refused, vowing to remain in power.
The White House is sending confusing signals. It cannot afford continued chaos in Egypt as Syria's civil war rages on. Having backed the Islamist Morsi, Obama is hard pressed to turn his back on him now. No doubt that is why President Obama called Morsi Monday, a move that many perceived as a show of support. Yet the State Department insists America is not taking sides.
Now the Egyptian military is threatening to step in. This morning the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces released a very blunt statement: "We swear to God that we will sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool." Stay tuned.