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Ignoring the GOP hurt Democrats’ ObamaCare

Claire McAndrew Donny Kirsch

Claire McAndrew, Donny Kirsch

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Updated: August 10, 2013 6:18AM

As the failures of ObamaCare pile up, it’s obvious that the program is paying the price of the original sin of its authors — the conceit of Democrats that they would enact the largest entitlement expansion in a generation, one affecting one-sixth of the nation’s economy, without a bipartisan consensus behind it.

The latest embarrassment for the Affordable Care Act — delaying until 2015 implementation of the employer mandate — reflects lack of small-business expertise in the writing of the law. Had Democrats sincerely sought Republican input, the law might have recognized the thin profit margins in so many retail and restaurant businesses, understood the challenge to them of providing health-care insurance, and taken into account the complexities of the paperwork burden the law imposed on small business. A GOP hand in writing the law also would have avoided the folly of classifying 30 hours a week as full-time work — a provision that has employers everywhere increasing their part-time worker rolls, depriving so many Americans of the chance of a full-time job.

A little input from conservative economic thinking would have revealed that there was no way the numbers added up for the CLASS Act part of ObamaCare — insurance for long-term care. Congress had to repeal the program when it became obvious there was no way the government could afford to implement it.

A dose of free-market thinking from the GOP side similarly would have demonstrated the crippling effect of a new tax on makers of medical devices — an industry characterized by small-business inventive prowess as well as a vulnerability to overseas competition. But the Democratic wizards writing ObamaCare knew better. Subsequently, the howls of protests from these businesses about the burden of a competition-killing tax on their revenues convinced Democrats in the Senate that this provision must go.

No participation by Republicans in writing the bill means no buy-in by legions of GOP officials now in implementing the measure. That’s why so many states run by Republican governors have refused to set up the state exchanges vital to creating the market for health insurance for individual buyers not covered by employer plans.

These were pitfalls that might have been avoided. But no, Democrats heady with the 2008 election of President Barack Obama and the seating of super majorities in both sides of Congress decided they didn’t need buy-in from Republicans, whether it was for economic measures like the $800 billion stimulus bill that ultimately fizzled or ObamaCare, a measure that was never popular with the voters and continues to perform poorly in national polls.

Now the Obama administration is sowing more distrust. Its decision on the employer mandate flies in the face of the law, which allows for no delay. It reinforces the perception that the White House has no problem not enforcing any law it doesn’t like. This only sows distrust about immigration reform — the passage of which relies on trust that the administration will carry out the bill’s tough border enforcement provisions.

Obama acolytes like to paint a picture of Republican obstructionism in Washington. But the truth is more complicated. The decision of Obama and Democrats to go it alone in 2008 on health care and stimulus made a mockery of Obama’s campaign pledge to bridge the bitter partisan divide. The Democrats’ our-way-or-the-highway attitude sowed the seeds of the polarizing hyper-partisan politics characterizing Capitol Hill today.

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