I agree with Ezra Klein, who writes:
Delaying Obamacare’s employer mandate is the right thing to do. Frankly, eliminating it — or at least utterly overhauling it — is probably the right thing to do. But the administration executing a regulatory end-run around Congress is not the right way to do it.
– By imposing a tax on employers for hiring people from low- and moderate-income families who would qualify for subsidies in the new health insurance exchanges, it would discourage firms from hiring such individuals and would favor the hiring — for the same jobs — of people who don’t qualify for subsidies (primarily people from families at higher income levels).
– It would provide an incentive for employers to convert full-time workers (i.e., workers employed at least 30 hours per week) to part-time workers.
– It would place significant new administrative burdens and costs on employers.
By tying the penalties to how many full-time workers an employer has, and how many of them qualify for subsidies, the mandate gives employers a reason to have fewer full-time workers, and fewer low-income workers.
We can only hope that repeal of this one part of the law is what the Obama Administration actually has in mind, though as Ezra notes Congress is not currently in a cooperative frame of mind. Still, this way it has a chance of serious reexamination after the 2014 elections.
Evan Soltas offers relevant comment on how this will change implementation in the short-run, namely that it puts more burden on the exchanges. Sarah Kliff comments on the politics, a very good post. Here is one good quotation from a source: “Politically, it won’t get easier a year from now, it will get harder,” he said. “You’ve given the employer community a sense of confidence that maybe they can kill this. If I were an employer, I would smell blood in the water.”
My view is you don’t serve up a delay and PR disaster like this, on such a sensitive political issue, unless you really wish to derail the entire provision.