Amazingly, both Republicans and Democrats got it right this week as they furiously spun their own interpretations of the administration's surprise announcement that Obamacare's employer mandate will be postponed for a year.
As Republicans said, it's an admission that the provision requiring companies with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance or pay a fine is flawed. While the concept of eliminating free-rider employers by requiring those with 50 or more full-time employees to provide insurance or pay a fine is sound, it's clear that its implementation was not ready for primetime. The reporting requirement the law imposed on employers to document whether their companies are subject to the mandate and fines is too complex and burdensome.
But as Democrats said, it's better to do this right than to do it fast. Any law as sweeping as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will always need tweaking to ensure it operates optimally. So it was prudent for officials to heed the legitimate complaints of business executives who said they needed breathing room and greater clarity to comply with the mandate. Because most large employers already offer health insurance for their workers, the delay should have little effect on the number of people covered.
There are obviously partisan agendas at work. The one-year delay to January 1, 2015, will conveniently put off enforcement of the employer mandate until after the 2014 election, during which the Republicans' pledge to repeal the 2010 law will be hotly debated. But it has already survived a constitutional challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as political attacks during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Obamacare is the law, so elected officials from each party should work to see it implemented as seamlessly as possible. That's what's best for the American people.