Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., offered a novel defense of President Obama's latest delay of the employer mandate: It's not really a delay, he argued, claiming that Obamacare doesn't specify when the provision should take effect.

When Fox News' Chris Wallace noted that the law states that the mandate will take effect after Dec. 31, 2013, Becerra seized on the phrase.

"It will begin after December 2013," Becerra said on Fox News Sunday. "Well the president said we'll start it after 2013, but we're going to make sure it works well for small businesses. And the fact that -- what he's trying to do is make things work."

The law doesn't merely say that the employer mandate can't take effect until 2014. It says the mandate "shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013" (emphasis added). That is, it should begin on Jan. 1, 2014.

Becerra denied that the mandate was delayed out of a fear that businesses would fire employees or cut them to less than 30 hours per week, which might damage Democrats if that took place prior to the 2014 midterms.

"[It's delayed] because you're seeing quite of a few chances that are taking place that require the insurance carriers and the employers to take on certain responsibilities," he said. "And you want to make sure that those responsibilities are taken on in a way that work for not just the business person, but also the employees."