White House: Critics of health care bill delay are ‘willfully ignorant’

The White House pushed back Wednesday on critics of its move to delay the implementation of a key part of the Obama-backed health care law, saying that skeptics of the postponement are “willfully ignorant” about how such laws have worked in the past.

"People who suggest that there's anything unusual about the delaying of a deadline in the implementation of a complex and comprehensive law are deliberately sticking their heads in the sand or are just willfully ignorant about past precedent," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a daily briefing. "It's not serious."

The administration announced last week that it would delay for one year the enforcement of penalties for larger employers who fail to provide health insurance for their workers, saying that businesses need more time to meet the overhaul’s requirements.

The announcement prompted outcry from Republicans – who have long tried to repeal or gut the 2010 law –who say that the delay proves that Obama’s administration will cherry-pick pieces of laws that it wants to execute while ignoring the rest.

But the grumbles haven’t been entirely limited to the GOP.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, was quoted Wednesday in the New York Times questioning whether Obama could choose to delay the implementation of the so-called “employer mandate” without congressional approval.

“This was the law. How can they change the law?” he asked.