Carney defends Obama’s unilateral Obamacare rewrites

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday brushed off a critical editorial in the Washington Post, and insisted hat the president’s latest unilateral rewrite of the Obamacare law is merely “common sense.”

Carney’s defense of the president’s claim of final authority over the 2010 law came after Obama’s deputies announced Monday they would not enforce the law’s requirement that businesses must provide expensive Obamacare insurance to their employees in 2014 and 2015.

“The law is also explicit that the government should be enforcing penalties already; that’s the plainest interpretation of Congress’s intent,” said the Tuesday Washington Post editorial.

“The administration shouldn’t dismiss that [law] without exceptionally good reason [and] fear of a midterm shellacking [in November] doesn’t qualify as good reason,” said the editorial, which is the official opinion of the influential Washington Post, not an opinion article by an columnist or outside expert.

GOP opposition to the Obamacare law does not excuse “President Obama’s increasingly cavalier approach to picking and choosing how to enforce this law,” the Post said.

When asked about the editorial, Carney insisted that “this is a common-sense approach to phasing in an aspect of the law and its implementation for some employers.”

He also suggested that the legal rewrite is acceptable because it is effects only one of every 50 companies.

“We’re talking about 2 percent of employers when we talk about those employers with between 50 and 99 employees… 2 percent… that’s what you’re seeing, again, with 2 percent — 2 percent of the employers in the country,” he said Wednesday.

The change is expected to impact millions of employees and family members.

Carney did not try to argue that the change is legal, nor did he address the collective impact of Obama’s 27 unilateral changes to the law.

Obama announced Tuesday that he would keep changing the unpopular law as he sees fit, without actually asking Congress to play a role. “That’s going to be our attitude about the law generally — how do we make [Obamacare] work for the American people and for their employers in an optimal sort of way,” he said.

The White House’s various changes are “completely lawless,” columnist Charles Krauthammer said.

“This president has blatantly sidestepped the legislative branch of government and taken the law into his own hands, picking and choosing who will suffer from the consequences of his healthcare law,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, who chairs the House’s homeland security committee.

House Speaker John Boehner was more cautious, saying in a tweet after the presidential rewrite that “Americans expect fairness from their gov’t. If big businesses get an exemption from #ObamaCare’s mandates, families should too.”

Obama’s unilateral rewrites of the 2010 law have also temporarily strengthened GOP opposition to Obama’s top second-term priority: the passage of an unpopular immigration increase.

“The American people, including many of our members, don’t trust that the [immigration] reform we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be,” Boehner said Feb. 6. “The president seems to change the health-care law on a whim, whenever he likes.”

During the Feb. 12 news conference, Carney was joined by Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who defended the administration’s decision to pay federal contractors more money.

“The President believes that the federal government should lead by example as a model employer, joining so many other private businesses who recognize that paying a fair wage is both the right thing to do, the smart thing to do, and the efficient thing to do,” Perez said.

Follow Neil on Twitter