Congressional Republicans will put their Democratic colleagues on the hot seat by calling votes on President Obama’s recent move to delay the start of Obamacare for big businesses by a year, while continuing to force individuals and small firms into the program in 2014.
Republican leaders in the House are demanding that the same postponement be granted to individuals, who must now secure health insurance next year, or begin to face penalties, under the individual mandate.
“Is it fair for the president of the United States to give American businesses an exemption from his health care law’s mandates, without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? Hell no, it’s not fair,” Speaker John Boehner said during a closed-door meeting of Republicans on Tuesday, sources in the room told the New York Times.
Republicans see an opportunity to cast Obama and the Democrats as being on the side of big business over the interests of the little guy as the nation heads towards next year’s mid-term elections.
"The president's actions on Obamacare last week were stunning," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor according to Fox News. "I never thought I'd see the day when the White House, the president, came down on the side of big business but left the American people out in the cold as far as this health care mandate is concerned."
The delay in starting the employer mandate was announced quietly late Friday when it was posted on the Treasury Department’s website. Under Obamacare, businesses would have to provide insurance for employees in 2014 or pay fines. Officials said the administration had not issued final regulations in time for employers to comply, forcing them to roll back the start of the employer mandate to 2015.
At a Capitol Hill press conference Republican leaders Tuesday called on the White House to push back the start for the individual mandate in order to be fair.
“I think what the president did is outrageous,” Boehner told reporters. “The idea that we’re going to give big businesses a break under Obamacare, but we’re going to punish small businesses and families? It’s wrong, and we’ll have another vote. Count on it.”
In a letter sent to Obama yesterday, GOP leaders also asked for a detailed breakdown on how the delay in the employer mandate would affect individuals who might not be offered insurance through their jobs next year, but will still have to come up with health care at their own cost.
Boehner will first call a vote on the Obama Administration’s move to delay the employer mandate. He said he will hold a second vote calling on the White House to postpone the individual mandate, a move that could put House Democrats in the position of appearing to favor big business over individuals.
Rep. Trey Radel, a Florida Republican, said that he felt like a liberal for accusing the president of favoring big business, the Huffington Post
"At the end of the day, this is just unfair, and what I'm about to say almost sounds like a liberal talking point: President Obama gave big business and big corporations a break, but not you," he said.
Over the past two years, since regaining control of the House, Republican leaders have held 37 votes in an unsuccessful effort to scale back or overturn ObamaCare. The health care act was also upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the Republican moves Tuesday, and insisted that implementation of ObamaCare is moving forward. He blasted the GOP for opposing the program while offering no alternative of its own.
"The Republican alternative is repeal and replace — with what?" asked Carney, according to The Hill.
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