The Individual Mandate Should Join Employer Mandate on the Obamacare Trash Heap

Over the past several weeks Democrats have become increasingly vocal about their concerns on Obamacare’s implementation problems. The latest was California’s Insurance Commissioner, Democrat David Jones, who is charged with implementing Obamacare in the Golden State, which has been one of the law’s biggest champions. He’s concerned that the way the exchanges are structured could lead to widespread fraud and identity theft.

“We can have a real disaster on our hands,” Jones said in an interview.

But the reality that Obamacare is flawed, perhaps fatally so, has still not set in for some Democratic leaders. While making the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid even went so far as to say that “Obamacare has been wonderful for America.”

Never mind that the law is causing dramatic hikes in insurance costs, has a skyrocketing price tag for taxpayers, and is causing many employers to lay off employees and reduce workers’ hours. All that is apparently just technicalities for the bill’s cheerleaders.

Nevertheless, a wake up call may be coming. Now, union leaders, who are reliable Democrat voters that more than any other group helped to lay the groundwork for Obamacare’s passage, are beginning to turn on the bill. The Wall Street Journal reports on the ultimate example of buyer’s remorse:

The presidents of the three of the nation’s biggest labor unions, who say they have been stonewalled by the White House, are asking Democratic leaders in Congress to change the new health-care law, which they say would otherwise devastate union-sponsored health-insurance plans.

In a letter dated July 11 to Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, union officials also said they are concerned the Affordable Care Act is leading employers to cut workers’ hours below 30 hours a week so that workers can avoid requirements to provide health coverage for those workers in the future.

Without changes, the health-care law “will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class,” the union officials wrote.”

If you’re a Democrat, adjectives like “shatter” and “destroy” aren’t exactly how you want some of your biggest supporters to describe Obamacare, especially since unions know they hold the keys to the electoral kingdom. As they conclude in their letter, “Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it.”

To that end, House Republicans will be spending part of this week trying to repair some of the damage the bill is already having on the economy. House leadership has announced that they will vote to delay the individual mandate, the part of Obamacare that requires Americans to buy health insurance by next year or face a financial penalty.

“If you’re a software company making billions in profits, you’re exempt from Obamacare next year,” House Speaker John Boehner said recently. “But if you’re a 28-year-old struggling to pay-off your student loans, you’re not. . . Is it fair for the president to give American businesses an exemption from his health law’s mandates without giving the same break to the rest of America? Hell no, it isn’t!”

Republicans will also include a delay in the employer mandate, a move designed to highlight the fact that President Obama’s unilateral attempt to do the same was an unconstitutional abuse of power. After all, Obamacare as passed by the House and Senate included the employer mandate. Is it really the president’s prerogative that he can treat individual parts of the law as mere recommendations that he is free to ignore?

It’s good to know that President Obama recognizes that portions of the law are patently unfair and unworkable. But those criteria apply well beyond the employer mandate. Repeal must remain the ultimate goal, but delaying the individual mandate is a great start.