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The sound you hear is ObamaCare’s death knell.
Late yesterday, the Administration announced that has decided to unilaterally (and by the way, illegally) postpone enforcement of the employer mandate for a full year, until 2015.
That announcement was the moment when the president’s health care law died. Or rather, its heart stopped beating. It may linger on for a while, perhaps even for years -- but its demise is now unavoidable. For two reasons.
First, the delay has pierced the law’s aura of inevitability, which was its only real strength.
Before yesterday afternoon, we could assume that the law will take full effect on January 1, 2014. But after this announcement, how can we be sure? They seem to think they can arbitrarily (and even illegally) suspend inconvenient parts of the law, any time they want. What's to stop them from "suspending" other parts?
The delay is called "temporary," but it will almost certainly become permanent. This is Washington, after all. What makes a law that's un-administrable after three years of preparation administrable after four? Why wouldn’t today’s policy arguments for a reprieve still be valid a year hence? Why should we expect the same corporations who've complained about this mandate from day one to suddenly acquiesce in it?
Second, the delay has stripped from the law whatever legitimacy it may have had.
Until yesterday, people could assume that, no matter what else you may think of ObamaCare, it at least applies to all of us and will be enforced fairly and evenhandedly. That sense of fairness just went poof!
President Obama’s HHS has granted more than 1,200 ObamaCare waivers to his party’s friends and cronies. His IRS has been caught selectively enforcing the tax laws to thwart or punish his perceived political opponents. And, as we learned from Politico a few weeks back, his Office of Personnel Management is now considering granting special relief from ObamaCare’s burdens to Members of Congress and their staffs.
Ahem. Where’s our waiver?
Can ObamaCare survive this latest mishap? I don't see how it can. A law enforced so arbitrarily and selectively, by an Administration so apparently unprincipled and politically brazen, is not long for this world.
For five straight years now, pollsters have consistently reported that more than half of the U.S. population opposes or feels very uncomfortable with the law. According to the Kaiser monthly health care tracking poll, support for it among Democrats dropped more than 15 percentage points in the months immediately following last year's election. Given the drumbeat of daily "train wreck" and "exploding cost" stories since then (including yesterday's announcement), it's hard to see support going anywhere but down.
Perhaps the Administration can move the numbers a bit with its planned $500 million advertising campaign. But what does it say about the benefits of this new program that they have to spend half a billion dollars exhorting us to sign up for it? And what does it say about the downsides of this new program that they feel compelled to illegally delay it until after the next election?
ObamaCare is flat-lining.
Do not resuscitate.
Dean Clancy is vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, a grassroots service center to a community of more than 6 million activists who believe in individual liberty and constitutionally limited government. Follow him on Twitter: @DeanClancy.