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September 25, 2013

PARKER: Still waiting for Obamacare

(Continued)

Moreover, the law is being applied unfairly and unequally, with exemptions and delays offered to special groups and the brunt of the strain falling directly on middle-class Americans.

Larger employers, for example, have been given a one-year reprieve on fines for leaving workers uncovered. No such grace for individual citizens. The incentives to cut employees and hours prompted three powerful former supporters to write a strong letter of dissent to Democratic leaders. The letter writers, saying the ACA would destroy the backbone of the American middle class and “the very health and well-being of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans,” also lamented the falsehood that employees could keep the insurance they like. This is obviously not true despite Obama’s repeated assurances to the contrary.

The authors were all union leaders, including James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Finally, in a tweak not likely to inspire admiration, the president is offering Congress a break other Americans won’t get. Obamacare requires congressional leaders and staff to enter the exchanges like everyone else, but Obama has offered a special dispensation to soften the blow. Their employer -- you -- will pay part of the premium, a compensatory option not offered to non-federal employers and their befuddled, underemployed staffs.

Delay may feel like one more Republican strategy, but that doesn’t necessarily make it unwise. If we can delay sending cruise missiles to Syria pending a better solution, perhaps there’s some sense to delaying a health care overhaul that creates unacceptable collateral damage to citizens and that is not quite ready for public consumption.

In the long run, delay might benefit Obama, especially if it averts a revolt once citizens fully absorb the expensive realities of Obamacare and promises not kept. He has already demonstrated that he is comfortable with waiting when risks are disproportionate to theoretical gains.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. She can be reached at kathleenparker@washpost.com.

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