No less than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the Obama administration last week for delaying implementation of a central requirement of the Affordable Health Care Act. The administration recognized businesses required to cover workers or face fines need more time to update health care plans in the context of the complicated federal law. They will get an additional year.
The national chamber was joined by the National Retail Federation in commending the administration for the pragmatic approach to at least one aspect of sweeping health care reform. “It will provide … more time to update … heath care coverage without the threat of arbitrary punishment,” said Neil Trautman, vice president of the federation.
There are tens of thousands of business owners who don’t like the law some call Obamacare, but they recognize it is the law and will be implemented. The initial reaction to the delay indicates businesses appreciate, however grudgingly, the yearlong extension of time to comply. It was greeted as good news by most of the businesspeople who will be directly affected.
Not so in Congress.
As predictable as oppressive summer humidity, Republican leaders of the House and Senate took the opportunity to rip into the president and the new law. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio preached that the delay proves the law is unworkable. It proves nothing of the sort. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky trotted out his oh-so-tired boilerplate that the entire law must be repealed, which he knows is not going to happen.
It would have been better for the nation – for Congress itself – had Republican leaders said something like: Yes, we don’t particularly like all the requirements of Obamacare, but we will work with the president to minimize negative impacts on business owners and employees. We will work with the president, where possible, to tweak and modify the law to improve it.
Instead, the president’s sensible delay of a key element of the law – a delay welcomed by the nation’s biggest business and retail organizations – was savaged by allegedly responsible Republican congressional leaders.
It’s no wonder Congress is held in such low regard.
The Forum of