One of the points Republicans and conservatives have made again and again since President Obama illegally delayed the Obamacare employer mandate is the gross unfairness of not also delaying the individual mandate, the requirement that Americans as a price of their existence buy heath insurance or pay a
penalty tax. How, they ask, can it be just to force people to meet the law’s burdens, but not businesses? It’s a particularly difficult question for Democrats, since they’re on the hook for Obamacare (1).
And thus it is, having thought about that question, one Democratic senator has come up with the right answer: “Break ranks and save myself!”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke ranks with fellow Democrats and said he’d support a stopgap spending plan that delays the individual mandate in President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
“There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast today. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.”
The individual mandate is the linchpin of the law that requires most Americans to purchase health care through government-run insurance exchanges. Republicans, led by a group of newcomers in the House, are pushing to dismantle the health-care law and are using a ticking clock on a possible Oct. 1 government shutdown as leverage.
Manchin, 66, said he’d be willing to delay the individual mandate as part of the budget negotiations because the Obama administration in July gave businesses an extra year to provide their workers with health insurance.
“Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now,” Manchin said. “Give them at least a year. If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”
Manchin is no dummy; he’s a Democrat because Democrats owned West Virginia for decades, but his instincts lean “conservative, do whatever I can to get reelected,” and he can see how unpopular Obamacare is in his home state. And Reid probably gave him the okay to defect, because he can afford to lose a few senators and still defeat any measure that limits or cripples Obamacare.
But not too many, and there are several Red-state senators up for reelection in 2014 (Manchin isn’t up until 2016) who might sorely tempted to be on the side of the angels on this one. My guess is that we’ll see a few more “stand with Joe” and that, while Obamacare won’t be defunded, there will be a last-minute deal delaying the individual mandate, too.
And it will be fun to watch Obama whine and cry and throw a fit… and then eventually knuckle under to sign it.
(1) No Republicans voted for it, after all, and most have promised repeatedly to repeal it — and they know they will be held to that promise. Unlike the Democrats’
sheep base, rank and file conservatives are quite willing to hold their employees’ feet to the fire.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)