Reports: Obama plans six-week delay of Obamacare mandate

Tim Cavanaugh Contributor
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American citizens may get a brief reprieve from the non-participation tax at the center of the massive 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Multiple news sources are reporting that the Obama administration — already reeling from the disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange — plans to hold off the so-called “individual mandate” by at least six weeks.

NBC Nightly News tweeted Wednesday evening that President Obama may blink in the face of the HealthCare.gov web site’s grim and universally-mocked debut, which has seen poor and dropping traffic; massive technical SNAFUs, and enrollment numbers that are said to be in the low thousands.

This would be a substantial reversal for the administration, which has fought all attempts by congressional Republicans to spare Americans from the mandate requiring all citizens to purchase health insurance or face a stiff penalty. Earlier this month, Obama allowed a partial government shutdown to go forward rather than compromise with Republicans on the penalty.

The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, citing unnamed administration sources, also said Wednesday that the mandate is being put in storage.

“The Administration,” writes MarketWatch’s Jen Wieczner, “has recognized that there’s a ‘disconnect’ between the actual and effective deadlines, as the deadline to get health insurance in time to comply with the ACA is currently six weeks earlier than the final deadline to buy it. Now, the Administration is working to revise its current policies making sure the two deadlines line up with each other, says the HHS official. Official word on a possible new deadline will come shortly, the official adds.”

The individual mandate has been the most loathed portion of the massive health care law, but it was upheld last year by the Supreme Court as a constitutional tax — a lefthanded gift to the feckless administration, which had argued that the mandate was not a tax.

Although Obama has unilaterally made several changes to the enacted law — notably giving a one-year suspension of an insurance mandate on big businesses — the individual mandate has been largely treated as sacrosanct, since forcing Americans to purchase insurance is considered vital to upholding the law’s crazy economic scaffolding.

White House spokesman Jay Carney has in recent days denied that the a delay was imminent, but has been hedging with claims that the administration would not force people to purchase a product they are unable to get on the broken Obamacare exchange.

The delay, while less than the one-year delay Republicans have been seeking, would be a vindication of sorts for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republican stalwarts, who have been vilified by the administration, legislative Democrats, the establishment media and members of their own party for their hard stance against the mandate.

Despite its Supreme Court victory, the individual mandate is a novel requirement in American history. Opponents have argued that it represents the first time the federal government has ordered all Americans to purchase a product, radically altering the relationship between American citizens and the state.

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Tim Cavanaugh