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Chad’s Morning Brief: President Obama Delays Obamacare Mandate Again, Ted Cruz Plans Trip to Iowa, and Other Top Stories

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of February 11, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.

Win McNamee, Getty Images

Delayed Again

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. President Obama has delayed part of the healthcare law. According to the Wall Street Journal, President Obama has changed the rules yet again. This time if you are a small business with less than 100 workers, you don’t have to worry about anything until 2016.

Most employers won’t face a fine next year if they fail to offer workers health insurance, the Obama administration said Monday, in the latest big delay of the health-law rollout.

The Treasury Department, in regulations outlining the Affordable Care Act, said employers with 50 to 99 full-time workers won’t have to comply with the law’s requirement to provide insurance or pay a fee until 2016. Companies with more workers could avoid some penalties in 2015 if they showed they were offering coverage to at least 70% of full-time workers.

The move came after employers pressured the Obama administration to peel back the law’s insurance requirements. Some firms had trimmed workers’ hours to below 30 hours a week to avoid paying a penalty if they didn’t offer insurance.

A senior administration official said the shift was a response to businesses’ concerns, though the official said no one reason was behind the change.

Under the original 2010 health law, employers with the equivalent of at least 50 full-time workers had to offer coverage or pay a penalty starting at $2,000 a worker beginning in 2014. Last year, the administration delayed the requirement for the first time by moving it to 2015.

The new rules for companies with 50 to 99 workers would cover about 2% of all U.S. businesses, which include 7% of workers, or 7.9 million people, according to 2011 Census figures compiled by the Small Business Administration. The rules for companies with 100 or more workers affect another 2% of businesses, which employ more than 74 million people.

Monday’s announcement of fresh changes comes as the administration weighs how much of the law to adjust in the wake of its troubled rollout. Health care is expected to be a central issue in the November midterm elections.

Many employers have been fierce critics of the law, and some praised the administration for giving them the flexibility they sought.

“I’m pretty pleasantly astounded by what I’ve seen on first read here,” said Neil Trautwein, a vice president and lobbyist with the National Retail Federation. “This is really the antithesis of the botched rollout of the exchanges, and I think they have tried mightily to smooth the impact of the penalty-mandate structure on the business community.”

GOP lawmakers, who oppose the law, seized on the delay to argue the administration should relax other key provisions, including the requirement that individuals carry coverage or pay a penalty, which has been in effect since the beginning of this year.

Cruz to Iowa

Senator Ted Cruz is once again raising eyebrows as he plans a trip to Iowa in March. According to the Washington Post, Cruz will speak at a homeschooling rally.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a tea party favorite, will speak at a homeschooling rally in Iowa next month, signaling his continued interest in a possible 2016 presidential bid.

The event, which will take place on March 18 at the Iowa state capitol in Des Moines, will be hosted by the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE), a politically-engaged group that has previously hosted presidential contenders. In 2011, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) spoke at a similar “Homeschool Day at the Capitol,” as did pizza magnate Herman Cain and former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.).

Vicki Crawford, a NICHE organizer, confirmed the appearance in a phone interview, and said the group is excited to welcome Cruz back to the Hawkeye State and offer him its headlining speaking slot at the rally.

“Senator Cruz is very supportive of educational freedom,” Crawford said. “He’s a perfect match for us. He’s been a courageous voice in the Senate.” And, she added, “I think he’d be a wonderful choice to step into the ring in 2016.”

Cruz’s upcoming appearance underscores his popularity among Iowa Republicans, especially social conservatives, said Chuck Laudner, a veteran Iowa GOP consultant who advised former senator Rick Santorum’s 2012 Iowa campaign.

“The homeschool event will have hundreds of people there, it’s a huge event, and these are the people who organize, communicate, and build a ready-made foundation for any caucus campaign in Iowa,” Laudner said. “They are looped in and they will fight for you, if you can win them over. I know a lot of them already like Cruz, and this will be a big forum – a red-letter date.”

Cruz traveled to Iowa several times last year, including a stop in October, when he headlined the Iowa GOP’s Ronald Reagan dinner. During that visit, he also traveled to western Iowa, where he went on a pheasant hunt with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a key political figure in the run-up to the Iowa Republican caucuses, the first nominating contest of the presidential race.

Steve Deace, a conservative talk-radio host in Iowa, said Cruz’s flurry of Iowa visits over the past year are “very helpful” to him as conservatives mull over what could be a large Republican field.

“People are doing a much earlier vetting process, since they don’t want the establishment to pick the nominee,” Deace said. “I think his base is as strong as anybody else. It’s not in the bag yet, but he has the ability to put together a coalition. Speaking at this particular event is smart.”

A Washington Post-ABC poll last month showed Cruz’s support among Republicans nationally at 12 percent, in fourth place behind Rep. Paul Paul Ryan (Wis.), former Florida governor Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Among tea party supporters — who made up about one-fifth of the Republicans polled — Cruz had the lead, with 28 percent.

Does this trip to Iowa shed any real light into the thoughts of Ted Cruz and a possible 2016 run? Possibly. If Cruz had zero interest in running for President then I don’t think he’d be in Iowa so much. On the other hand, I don’t think he has made his mind up. Cruz has time to wait and make his decision.

Other Top Stories:

Davis vs. Abbott on School Funding

Davis and Abbott Spar on Guns, Border, and Education

Editorial from Greg Abbott

Cruz Does Boehner No Favors

Cruz on the Debt Ceiling

Rick Perry and Chris Christie Don’t Like Each Other 

Plano Men at Center of Texas Gay Marriage Case 

Almost One in Four 26-Year-Olds Live With Mom and Dad 

Schumer Calls GOP Bluff; Offers to Start Immigration Reform in 2017 

GOP Eyes Senate Takeover

Obamacare Patients May Face Fewer Doctors, Longer Waits

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.

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