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GovernmentNews Clash

Blame Game: Employer Mandate Delayed By President and It’s The Republicans Fault


President Obama’s decision to delay part of his health care law left fellow  Democrats flat-footed, but they have since regrouped and are now blaming  Republicans for the situation, saying the GOP poisoned the law so badly that the  administration had no choice.

Rep. Jim McDermott told Republican  members of a House panel on health they should spend less time trying to  dismantle the Affordable Care Act and more time on good-faith reforms.

“I’m sure it’s tempting for those who have stood against reform and progress  from the beginning to see this as a chance to rip ‘Obamacare’ apart again, yet  another time,” the Washington Democrat said. “The irony of objecting to the  delay of a program you’ve been  trying to stop is, no doubt, lost on this room.”

The White House announced last week that  it would push back, to 2015, the Affordable Care Act’s “employer mandate”  requiring companies with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health  insurance, or else  pay fines.

Opponents of the law seized on the decision as proof it is fundamentally  flawed. The delay provides a reprieve for “big business,” but does  nothing for everyday Americans who must acquire insurance under the “individual  mandate,” according to Republican leaders.

“This law is literally unraveling before our eyes,” Rep.  Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and former vice presidential nominee, said  Wednesday.

While the delay is a setback for Mr. Obama, it also put his party colleagues  in a tough position of having to defend the law even the president says needed  changes, or else distance themselves from his signature achievement.

One Democrat criticized the president for caving. Sen.  Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who was considered one of the architects of the  law, caused a stir after he was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “How can  they change the law?”

Mr. Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, said  there is precedent for the delay and that Republicans — not Democrats like Mr. Harkin — are the primary cause of the law’s  recent troubles.

“They don’t want to see it implemented,” he told reporters Wednesday.  “They’ve made that clear.”

Rep. John Barrow, a Georgia Democrat who opposed the law, said Wednesday he  is working on bipartisan legislation that would repeal the employer mandate.

“One of the main reasons why I voted against this law in the first place was  because too many job creators in my district simply can’t afford the cost of the  employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act,” he said on the chamber  floor.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have shown a willingness to tweak the law.

Sen. Joe Donnelly, Indiana Democrat, cosponsored a bill with Sen. Susan M.  Collins, Maine Republican,  that would define a full-time worker as someone who works a traditional 40-hour  work week, and not the 30-hour week the health care law prescribes.

Even more Democrats supported a nonbinding vote to scrap the law’s tax on  medical device manufacturers during the debate this year on the Senate’s budget  plan.

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