Oversight Leaders Question Treasury Authority to Unilaterally Delay ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate

March 20, 2014

WASHINGTON – Leaders on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew requesting more information about the Treasury Department’s decision to unilaterally delay ObamaCare’s employer mandate, after testimony from a Treasury official indicated that no serious legal review was conducted before the delay was issued.

“The Committee is concerned that, as part of its role in the law’s implementation, the Department of Treasury is intentionally disregarding core statutory requirements of the law,” the letter, sent on March 18th and signed by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Subcommittee Chairman James Lankford, R-Okla., and Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, states. “These concerns are compounded by serious questions about the constitutionality of the Department’s actions.”

Treasury announced the delay of the employer mandate on July 2, 2013 in a blog post authored by Mark J. Mazur, the Department’s Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy. On January 16, 2014, Committee staff conducted a transcribed interview with Mr. Mazur, in which he answered a number of questions regarding the Department’s legal considerations before implementing the delay.

 

Excerpt from Mr. Mazur’s transcribed interview:

Q             Did anyone in the Executive Office of the President inquire into the legal authority for the delay?

A             I don’t have any recollection of that.

Q             Did anyone in the Department of the Treasury inquire into the legal authority for the delays?

A             I don’t recall anything along those lines, no.

Q             Did anyone in the Office of the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service inquire into the legal authority for the delays?

A             Not to my recollection.

Q             Did anyone in the Department of the Treasury suggest or argue that the Department lacked a legal authority for the delays?

A             Not to my recollection.

Q             Did anyone in the Executive Office of the President suggest or argue that the Department lacked the authority for the delays?

A             Not to my recollection.

Q             Did anyone in the Office of the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service suggest or argue that the Department lacked the authority for the delays?

A             Not to my recollection.

 

“These admissions are stunning:  there are more than two thousand attorneys in the Department of Treasury, and the official responsible for tax policy cannot recall a single one inquiring into the legal authority for the employer mandate delay,” the letter states. “Furthermore, Mr. Mazur’s responses are inconsistent with the Department’s claim that it relied upon an asserted authority under § 7805 of the Internal Revenue Code.”

 

“Information obtained by the Committee suggests that last year’s decision to delay the employer mandate was made by the White House and not the Treasury Department,” the letter continues, “We were surprised to learn that the White House Chief of Staff knew about the employer mandate delay prior to the head of the department implementing the program.  This finding raises serious questions about whether the White House directed the delay of the employer mandate for political reasons. “

 

“While we believe that ObamaCare, including its penalties on employers, is bad policy and should be repealed, it is clear that by law the Administration cannot act unilaterally to delay unpopular aspects of ObamaCare until after the next November election,” the letter states.

 

You can read a complete copy of the letter here.

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