This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," July 13, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," the Obama administration declines to enforce a key part of its health care law and the GOP sees a new opening to delay the entire bill. Will they succeed?
Plus, an oil train derailment wipes out a Canadian town. Does the tragedy bolster the case for the Keystone Pipeline?
And former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer takes a page from the Anthony Weiner playbook and jumps back into politics. Voters seem inclined to give them both a second chance, but why?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The people who suggest that there's anything unusual about the delaying of the deadline and the implementation of a complex and comprehensive law are, you know, deliberately sticking their heads in the sand or just willfully ignorant about past precedent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
That was White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Wednesday defending the Obama administration's decision not to enforce a key part of the Affordable Care Act, some say in defiance of the law. The administration claims it has the legal authority to delay the employer mandate until 2014 and insist that the rest of ObamaCare is still on track. But GOP leaders called on President Obama this week to extend the same break to American families and delay the individual mandate as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Is it fair for the president to give American businesses an exemption from the health laws mandates without giving the same break to individuals and families across the country? Hell, no, it isn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Bret Stephens; editorial board member, Joe Rago; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
So, Joe, another charming aside from Jay Carney --
JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Right, about Tom Harkin who -- a Democrat and running for the Senate.
GIGOT: Explain that, about Tom Harkin.
RAGO: Tom Harkin who runs the Senate Health Care Committee, Democrat, who wrote the employer mandate, coming out and saying I don't think they have the authority to do this. This is probably illegal.
GIGOT: He was attacking anybody who said they didn't have the authority to do it.
I read the statute. Doesn't look like they have the authority. It says plainly it should start on December 31.
BRET STEPHENS, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: It says it shall start.
GIGOT: It shall start. Yes, black letter law.
RAGO: Black letter law. The problem with the Affordable Care Act is that every piece of the bill is designed to solve allegedly a problem created by another part of the bill. If you delay the employer mandate, it has all kinds of knock-on consequences throughout the rest of the sort of ObamaCare architecture.
GIGOT: Let's zero in on this verification, refusal to enforce the verification. If you apply for it, they will not check your income to see if you qualify until somehow later. They may get around to it. What are the implications of that for bill?
RAGO: I think it will lead to a lot of fraud. They are just trying to get people to cram in here, even if they are not eligible for the subsidies.
RAGO: And if you look at something like the earned-income-tax credit, about 21 percent to 25 percent of those payments are made to people who don't actually qualify for them legally. If you are looking at the Affordable Care Act, that's a $250 billion problem.
GIGOT: If it is on that scale of --
RAGO: If it was the same fraud.
GIGOT: Kim, so what's the motive here, the political motive here for the administration to do this -- to wave these verification rules?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: They want to get as many people in the system and hooked on these subsidies as they can. They think that's what's going to build support for the law. That, combined with pushing off this employer mandate, which was incredibly unpopular, passed the next year's election. They are hoping again to get everybody in that they can while also pushing off some of the harder and more controversial aspects of this.
GIGOT: They're really afraid in particular that young people, who don't sometimes think they need insurance, won't sign up for the exchanges that will administer the law because if -- and if they don't sign up, then there won't be enough young healthy people to finance the older and sicker people. And you could end up with the exchanges really not being affordable or collapsing.
STRASSEL: And they should be worried about this, Paul. There are astonishing numbers. One in four Americans right now who are currently eligible for Medicaid, which is essentially free health care, do not take the trouble to bother to enroll. OK. You have under the age of 30, people under the age of 30, about one in three don't even take employer-provided health care. They turn it down because they don't think they need insurance. And so -- now you are talking about asking them to sign up for an incredibly complicated system that could cost them a great amount of money, and how you do that, that's what has the administration worried.
GIGOT: Bret, how do you think Republicans should respond to this? They say next week they will hold the vote to give the administration the legal authority and they say it is illegal but make it legal to extend the employer -- to delay the employer mandate. They will have to delay the individual mandate, too.
STEPHENS: Yes, I mean --
GIGOT: Is that the right strategy?