With one brilliant political masterstroke, the Obama administration pulled the rug out from Republicans who were hoping to run against Obamacare in 2014.
An innocent looking blog post at the Department of the Treasury has turned the GOP’s strategy for the 2014 election on its ear. Mark J. Mazur wrote, “The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin. This is designed to meet two goals. First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees. Within the next week, we will publish formal guidance describing this transition.”
Republicans have been telegraphing since they lost the 2012 election that they intended to run against the employer mandate. John Boehner mentions Obamacare every week when he meets with the media for a reason. Republicans at both the congressional and state level can’t run on their economic records. They can’t run on their legislative records. Republicans were planning on making 2014 a replay of 2010 by focusing on Obamacare, but the White House kneecapped them with an announcement that nobody expected.
Republican former CBO director, Douglas Holtz-Eakin explained why this announcement was both a stunner and deviously brilliant, “Democrats no longer face the immediate specter of running against the fallout from a heavy regulatory imposition on employers across the land. Explaining away the mandate was going to be a big political lift; having the White House airbrush it from the landscape is way better. It helps with ObamaCare in other ways as well. The administration was flailing to find high-profile allies (e.g., the National Football League) to advertise the wonders of ObamaCare. In a single masterstroke it has given every company a reason to explain its existence (“don’t worry, you’ll be fine in the exchanges”) and created a de facto advertising campaign of enormous scale and reach. Deviously brilliant.”
The GOP had absolutely no clue that this was coming. As usual, President Obama is ten steps ahead of his opponents. Democrats are looking to make 2014 all about the extremely unpopular right wing, job killing, obstructionist Republican agenda. This White House stunner will shake up Senate and gubernatorial races around the country. It is also gives unpopular House Republicans one less issue to hide behind as they run for reelection.
Obama is playing chess, while Republicans are stuck on Go Fish