This afternoon, the House will vote on two Obamacare-related bills. One would delay the implementation of the employer mandate and associated requirements by a year (as the administration has already announced it will do without congressional authorization), and the other would do the same for the individual mandate.
Yesterday, the White House released a Statement of Administration Policy announcing that the president would veto both bills if they reached his desk. The White House argues that, taken together, the bills would amount to a huge step toward repealing Obamacare. That’s certainly true, and it’s surely why House Republicans are doing it—they have after all made it very clear they want to repeal the law.
And they have the president to thank for it. The third option—delaying the employer mandate but keeping the individual mandate—is perhaps the most uncomfortable of all as a political matter. But of course, it is also what the administration has already done unilaterally, and therefore is the position in which the president has already put Obamacare’s supporters whether they like it or not.
The White House has moved to make today’s vote a little easier for Democrats by issuing that veto threat against both bills. But the rationale for that threat, especially as it regards the bill to delay the employer mandate, should make congressional Democrats even more uncomfortable. The Statement of Administration Policy first argues that the two bills, “taken together, would cost millions of hard-working middle class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve.” Does that mean that they think even just delaying the employer mandate (which they have already done) would, taken by itself, have some such costs? If so, why did they do it? If not, why veto both bills? The only rationale offered in the statement for specifically vetoing the employer-mandate delay is, in its entirety, “H.R. 2667 is unnecessary.” The president is threatening to veto a bill that would simply authorize and formalize what he has already done because he deems it unnecessary for Congress to actually pass legislation that actually changes prior law—his administration can just ignore the law and do what it wants, so what’s the point?