It has certainly been a rough ride for Obamacare to date, to say the least. But in an eye-opening indication of just how close Obamacare might be to really going off the rails, the reliably left-of-center Yahoo! featured an article yesterday afternoon entitled, “Obamacare Individual Mandate May Be Next to Fall.”
To be sure, THE WEEKLY STANDARD’s pages have been full of suggestions that Republicans would do well to keep pushing to delay the individual mandate—Obamacare’s soft underbelly and its coercive core. In July, the GOP-controlled House took aim at the unprecedented mandate, passing legislation to delay it for one year, with 22 Democrats in support. Two weeks ago, Democrat Joe Manchin (W.Va.) similarly introduced legislation in the Senate—co-sponsored by Mark Kirk (R., Ill.)—to delay the individual mandate for a year.
But the Obama administration has emphatically rejected such efforts. Shortly before the vote on the House bill, the administration threatened to veto the bill if it reached Obama’s desk (Harry Reid has so far kept that from happening), while declaring that it “would raise health insurance premiums,” “increase the number of uninsured Americans,” and “undermine key elements of the health law,” while “facilitating further efforts to repeal [it].” So, in the administration’s own estimation, delaying the individual mandate would badly undermine Obamacare and promote its repeal, which is correct.
Yet, rather amazingly, even Yahoo! now suggests that the individual mandate is nevertheless in jeopardy. Citing Obama’s unilateral (and lawless) postponement of Obamacare’s employer mandate and his unilateral (and lawless) postponement of the myriad of Obamacare mandates that have already caused millions of health insurance policies to be cancelled, Yahoo! writes, “This raises the question: Can postponement of the individual mandate—arguably the most controversial facet of the Affordable Care Act—be far behind?”
Yahoo! then suggests that the answer might well be no, citing the low levels of public support for Obamacare, Obama, and Obama’s Obamacare rollout, and the high level of public support for delaying the individual mandate. (In fact, even Jon Stewart has questioned how the administration can avoid such a delay.) The article even speculates on how Obama would likely choose to go about issuing a delay, writing, “The administration presumably would use the same administrative authority [that it has claimed in delaying the employer mandate and in inviting insurers to reinstate 2013 plans] to postpone implementation of the individual mandate, without congressional approval.”
Indeed, if Obama does decide to do an about-face and delay the individual mandate, it seems likely he’ll do so in extralegal fashion—for about the only thing about Obamacare that seems to have remained constant to date is Obama’s ardent refusal to allow changes to it to be made through the constitutionally prescribed legislative process. In Obama’s mind, it would seem, changes to Obamacare can only be made by Obama.
Toward its end, the article highlights Congressional Budget Office projections of the damage that a delay of the individual mandate would do to Obamacare, and it finishes with this quote from a left-of-center think tank:
“‘Without the individual mandate, the exchanges may well not be viable over the long run; the higher premiums would discourage many healthier people from enrolling, sending premiums up still more,’ the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted in an analysis.”
Wow. And even Yahoo! is now openly suggesting this might happen?
Jeffrey H. Anderson is executive director of the newly formed 2017 Project, which is working to advance a conservative reform agenda.