GOP Energized by Delay in Key Obamacare Rule

GOP mobilizes to show Obamacare is a real 'train wreck.'

(Molly Riley/AP)

House Speaker John Boehner gestures toward a stack of paper representing the 20,000 pages of Affordable Health Care Act regulations.

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Republicans are pouncing on the Obama Administration's declaration Tuesday night that it would postpone requiring businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance until 2015.

Tea party groups and Republicans in Congress say the decision proves they were right all along – the Affordable Care Act is a political loser

"This is Obamacare unraveling. This is the 'train wreck' that [Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont.,] the senator who wrote the health care law, predicted was coming. Pushing the implementation of the employer mandate until after the 2014 election confirms the law was an historic mistake," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said in a statement. "This delay will make a giant mess of the individual mandate because presumably individuals are still required to purchase insurance."

[READ: Opponents of Obamacare Think Health Care Costs Will Rise]

Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses were to be penalized $2,000 per worker for not providing an insurance option beginning in 2014 and the business community had sounded the alarm that the penalty was too much and coming too fast.

"If government-run health care is so much better than free market health care, why is free market health care chugging along like it always has – saving lives and nursing Americans back to health – while government-run Obamacare is off the rails with yet another bureaucratic train wreck?" said Jenny Beth Martin, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.

Strategists say, politically, the administration's decision could help Democrats keep the Senate, which in the current political climate could be a difficult haul.

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Lawmakers like Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., may be helped by the Obama administration's decision to hold off on the controversial business requirement. In 2014, there are seven seats in states Democrats will have to hold onto that overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

More than half of voters polled in a recent Gallup poll said that they believed the law would actually disrupt their lives and make it more difficult to afford health care.

"Democrats are swimming up stream in red states. Taking health care off the table to a certain degree, I am sure it can help them at least a little bit," says Geoffrey Skelly, a political analyst at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

[ALSO: Businesses Applaud Affordable Care Act Delay]

In the House, Skelly says the Obama administration's decision won't make much of a difference in 2014.

"They need to win a net 17 states and that is a tall order with or without health care on the table," he says.

Democrats, however, are defending the decision as a practical one, saying it has nothing to do with politics.

"Flexibility is a good thing. Both the administration and Senate Democrats have shown – and continue to show – a willingness to be flexible and work with all interested parties to make sure that implementation of the Affordable Care Act is as beneficial as possible to all involved. It is better to do this right than fast," says Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

 

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