By Justin Sink
President Obama dismissed House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) proposed lawsuit targeting his delay of the ObamaCare employer mandate as a "political stunt" in his first comments on the litigation since it was unveiled earlier this week.
"It’s a political stunt that’s going to waste months of America’s time," Obama said in his weekly address. "And by the way, they’re going to pay for it using your hard-earned tax dollars."
"I’ve taken actions to attract new jobs, lift workers’ wages, help students pay off their loans, and more. And the Republican plan right now is not to do some of this work with me – instead, it’s to sue me," Obama said. "That’s actually what they’re spending their time on."
Obama implored House Republicans to "do something" rather than pursue the lawsuit.
"Do anything to help working Americans," the president continued. "Join the rest of the country. Join me, I'm looking forward to working with you."
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, dismissed a similar criticism levied by White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Friday.
“He's criticizing the House lawsuit while drawing a taxpayer-funded salary [and] standing behind a taxpayer-funded podium,” Steel tweeted. “Couldn't playing pool surrounded by aides [and] Secret Service agents also be described as a ‘taxpayer-funded stunt?’ ”
According to draft legislation unveiled Thursday, the Speaker’s lawsuit will challenge the administration's decision to unilaterally delay a requirement that firms offer health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty.
Under the law, employers with more than 50 full-time workers must offer health insurance or pay a penalty.
But earlier this year, federal health officials announced that employers with between 50 and 99 workers have until January 2016 to comply with the requirement to offer health insurance or pay the fine. That was on top of a previous delay in July 2013, which pushed back implementation of the penalty for all impacted companies until January 2015.
Former White House press secretary Jay Carney defended the legality of the move when it was first announced. And Democrats have argued that the delay is not dissimilar from similar steps taken by the Bush Administration during the rollout of Medicare Part D.
“The ability to postpone the deadline is clear,” Carney said, telling reporters to “read the Federal Register,” the official docket for federal regulations, to survey similar examples of delays.
“The fact of the matter is this is not unusual, and it is evidence of the kind of flexibility and deference to the concerns and interests of, in this case, a small percentage of American businesses with more than 50 employees that you would think Republicans would support,” Carney said.