This was President Obama, way-back-when (two-and-a-half weeks ago), categorically refusing to delay Obamacare’s individual mandate:
“Steve, let’s be clear, we’re not going to delay the Affordable Care Act,” Obama said. “There are millions of Americans, right now, who don’t have health insurance and they are, finally, after decades going to be in a position where they can get get affordable health care just like everybody else and that means that their families, their kids, themselves, they’ve got the basic security that you and I enjoy. And the notion that we would even delay them getting that kind of peace of mind, potentially going to a doctor to get treated for illnesses that they currently have simply because the Republicans have decided, ideologically, that they’re opposed to the Affordable Care Act is not something that we’re going to be discussing.”
And he meant it. He was willing to shut down (sorta) the government to prevent any delay to his signature achievement. Republicans wanted a full year’s delay, but Obama would not even negotiate something shorter.
Of course, there is a big difference between what the Republicans offered and what the White House is announcing, much bigger than length of the delay. The law imposes the individual mandate on February 15, no ifs, ands, or buts. Republicans offered the president a legal delay, through properly-enacted legislation. He refused it, and is now unilaterally imposing an illegal delay. He didn’t have to flout the rule of law; he prefers to flout it.
POSTSCRIPT: Meanwhile, we should remember that delaying the individual mandate is not actually good policy, unless community rating (i.e., price controls) and guaranteed issue are also delayed. The individual mandate is what makes community rating and guaranteed issue possible without skyrocketing premiums. (Yes, premiums are as much as tripling, but without the mandate it would be even worse.) The administration has no good solution to this mess they’ve made.
POST-POSTSCRIPT: By the way, when you read Obama’s prattle above, keep in mind that what he was refusing to delay was the individual mandate, the part of Obamacare that forces people to buy “peace of mind” whether they want to or not.