President Barack Obama defended his decision to delay the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, saying it was within his power to do so and serves as a way to provide administrative relief to the majority of businesses that are already providing health insurance to their employers.
"Businesses came to us and said, listen, we were supportive of providing health insurance to employees, in fact, we provide health insurance to our employees; we understand you want to get at the bad actors here, but are there ways to provide us some administrative relief?" Obama said in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times published over the weekend.
"And what we said was, given that that is not critical to standing up the marketplaces where people are going to actually be able to buy lower-cost, high-quality insurance and get the tax credits that make it affordable for them, we thought it made sense to give another year not only for companies to prepare, but also for us to work with Treasury and others to see if there are just ways we can make this a little bit simpler for companies who are already doing the right thing."
When the interviewer, Jackie Calmes, asked Obama if he was acting within his executive power to unilaterally delay the employer mandate, Obama said he wasn't concerned with Congress' opinion on the matter, alluding to the fact that he is a constitutional lawyer.
"If Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case," Obama said. "But there’s not an action that I take that you don't have some folks in Congress who say that I'm usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don't think that's a secret. But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions -- very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers."
Read the entire interview here.
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