The PJ Tatler

Congressional Research Service: Obamacare Has Already Missed Half Its Deadlines (Update: Chicago Trib Rips Obamacare)

Over the weekend, President Obama accused Republicans of trying to “gum up the works” in implementing Obamacare. Well, the works do be gummed up all on their own according to Avik Roy. The Congressional Research Service says — in an unpublished report — that the Obama government has already missed half its implementation deadlines.

As of May 31, 2013, when the CRS analysis was completed, the White House had yet to meet 9 of 12 deadlines from the first year after the Affordable Care Act was enacted. It failed to meet 22 of 53 deadlines in the second year; another 8 became moot after Congress did not appropriate funds to complete the assigned tasks. In year three, the administration missed 10 out of 17 deadlines. That’s a total of 41 out of 82 deadlines missed.

If you exclude the 9 deadlines that became moot because Congress never appropriated the funds to meet them, the Obama administration missed 41 out of 73 deadlines, or 56 percent.

In analyzing the CRS report, I erred on the side of generosity. If the administration missed a particular statutory deadline by a week or less, I counted it in their favor as a “met” deadline. In any case where there was ambiguity in the CRS report, I assumed that the administration had met the deadline. So these 50-56 percent missed deadline figures should be seen as slightly conservative.

The administration has tried, almost comically, to make the case that the faulty implementation of Obamacare is Republicans’ fault. But blue states that have embraced the law are the ones having the most problems.

Update: President Obama’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, rips the president for “flouting” his own law.

Congressional Democrats, and some Republicans, may agree with the numerous delays, changes and special favors. But the president invites chaos when he picks which parts of Obamacare to enforce, and which, in retrospect, he has decided are unworkable or unwise.

In a recent news conference, Obama acknowledged that congressional modification of the law is preferable to these White House fiats: “In a normal political environment, it would have been easier for me to simply call up (House Speaker John Boehner) and say, ‘You know what? This is a tweak that doesn’t go to the essence of the law. … Let’s make a technical change of the law.’ That would be the normal thing that I would prefer to do, but we’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to, quote-unquote, ‘Obamacare.”’

Tweaks? Obama isn’t making tweaks. He’s trying to circumvent major flaws that began flaring when the law was enacted. Hence the many carve-outs, delays and special deals that have been piling up since he added his signature to Obamacare on March 23, 2010.

The president crusaded for this law and has embraced its nickname. But he did not write the law. Congress did. Major changes are necessary — he has stipulated by his actions that this law as constituted cannot work — and Congress should legislate them for his review.

Bottom line: Let’s delay and rewrite this ill-conceived law. Congress need not start from scratch. Lawmakers can build on what all of us have learned from three years of painful trial and error. Three years of attempting, but failing, to make this clumsy monstrosity work for the American people.

Repeal and replace would be better.