Burgess: Could Cruz Suspend Employer Mandate?

by Molly Wharton

Michael Burgess (R., Texas) wonders whether potential president Ted Cruz in 2017 would have the power to suspend the individual mandate as President Obama did.

At the hearing on the House GOP lawsuit against the president, Burgess considered what would happen if Ted Cruz became president, saying he would suspend the individual mandate, at least until he is able to repeal Obamacare completely. He asked, ”Is that okay with him to do that? Can he suspend that date just as the president did?”

Walter Dellinger, former Assistant Attorney General and Acting Solicitor General, responded that it depends on whether the president is acting out of disagreement with the law enacted by Congress as a matter of policy. This is not the case with Obama’s suspension of the employer mandate, he said, because Obama agrees with said policy.

“He’s trying to facilitate his administration by working with businesses to make sure that this provision is implemented in a way that works for businesses,” Dellinger said. “That seems quite different from nullifying because of a policy disagreement.”

Burgess pushed back on this claim, pointing out that in the 2008 campaign for the nomination, Obama argued against the employer mandate. 

“I don’t think the president will ever enforce the employer mandate,” he said, “and I say that because I watched with horror the chaos that was visited upon the individual [health-insurance] market in November and December of this past year.”

Burgess concluded, ”I think the administration now recognizes that, and they are quietly looking for a way to get out of the conundrum of the employer mandate.” 

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