image courtesy of Maggie’s Notebook
Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute testified before Congress yesterday about the dangerous territory into which the country is headed. Obama took an oath to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” and Cannon spells out in clear detail how badly Obama is flouting his oath and the Constitution.
The law is a reciprocal pact between the government and the governed. Public order requires government to remain faithful to the law as much as it requires the citizenry to do so. If the actions of government officials lead citizens to conclude that those officials are no longer meaningfully bound by the law, then citizens will rightly conclude that neither are they.
Since he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) into law on March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama has failed to execute that law faithfully.
The president has unilaterally taken taxpayer dollars made available by the PPACA and diverted them from their congressionally authorized purposes toward purposes for which no Congress has ever appropriated funds.
He has unilaterally and repeatedly rewritten the statute to dispense taxpayer dollars that no federal law authorizes him to spend and that the PPACA expressly forbids him to spend.
He has unilaterally issued blanket waivers to requirements that the PPACA does not authorize him to waive.
At the same time he has declined to collect taxes the PPACA orders him to collect, he has unilaterally rewritten the statute to impose billions of dollars in taxes that the PPACA expressly forbids him to impose, and to incur billions of dollars in debt that the statute expressly forbids him to incur.
He has unilaterally rewritten the PPACA to allow health insurance products that the statute expressly forbids. He has encouraged consumers, insurers, and state officials to violate a federal law he enacted.
And he has taken these steps for the purpose of forestalling democratic action by the people’s elected representatives in Congress.
President Obama’s unfaithfulness to the PPACA is so wanton, it is no longer accurate to say the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is “the law of the land.” Today, with respect to health care, the law of the land is whatever one man says it is – or whatever this divided Congress will let that one man get away with saying. What this one man says may flatly contradict federal statute. It may suddenly confer benefits on favored groups, or tax disfavored groups without representation. It may undermine the careful and costly planning done by millions of individuals and businesses. It may change from day to day. This method of lawmaking has more in common with monarchy than democracy or a constitutional republic.
Obama has run roughshod over the PPACA law. Cannon points out the worst abuse:
The president’s most egregious violation of his duty to execute faithfully the PPACA is his attempt – under the rubric of that law – to tax, borrow, and spend billions of dollars that statute expressly prohibits him to spend.
The relevant provisions of the Act are complex, but the law is abundantly clear. The PPACA authorizes the creation of state-specific health insurance “exchanges” that regulate health insurance within each state. It asserts that “Each State shall . . . establish” an Exchange. It directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish an Exchange in states that do not. It offers health insurance subsidies to certain taxpayers who enroll in a qualified health plan “through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311.” Finally, the PPACA exempts employers from its “free-rider penalty,” and exempts millions of individual taxpayers from its individual-mandate penalties, if their states opt not to establish an Exchange. The language of the statute is clear, consistent, and unambiguous.
Nevertheless, shortly after legal scholars brought this feature of the law to the public’s attention in 2011, the Internal Revenue Service proposed a rule that would issue those subsidies – and impose the resulting taxes – through federal Exchanges as well as state-established Exchanges. Congressional Budget Office estimates indicate that issuing subsidies in the 34 states that have refused to establish Exchanges would cost taxpayers roughly $700 billion in the first 10 years. The president is literally threatening to tax, borrow, and spend hundreds of billions of dollars, without congressional authorization, and indeed in violation of the express language of his own health care law.
The IRS proposed this rule with no apparent regard for the clear language of the statute. Despite public criticism and objections during the notice-and-comment period, the agency finalized its proposed rule in May 2012 yet cited neither any provision of the PPACA nor any element of the legislative history in support of its “interpretation” of the law.
You will want to read the entire testimony. Cannon concludes with a strong warning:
The concerns I share with you today are not borne of partisanship. Though I have worked for Republicans, I am not a Republican, for reasons that Democrats on this committee can readily appreciate. I am acutely aware of the last Republican president’s failures to execute the laws faithfully. In 2008, though I did not support him, I preferred the Democratic presidential candidate to the Republican candidate in part because he promised to curb such abuses by the executive. I have praised President Obama for doing more than even many libertarians to celebrate the gains in equality and freedom our nation has secured for women, for African-Americans, for gays, and for lesbians.
This president’s failure – or any president’s failure – to honor his constitutional duty to execute the laws faithfully is not a partisan issue. The fact that presidents from both parties violate this duty is cause not for solace. It is cause for even greater alarm, because it guarantees that presidents from both parties will replicate and even surpass the abuses of their predecessors as payback for past injustices. The result is that democracy and freedom will suffer no matter who occupies the Oval Office.
The Obama regime is arguing that it is nonsensical to read literally the law as it is written.
That’s utterly absurd.
What do laws mean if they can be rewritten at will by the President? Why must we obey laws if the President does not? Since when are we to obey what democrats say they intended rather than what is codified in a law they wrote?
Why could Obama not suspend the 2nd Amendment if he wakes up one day and decides on it? What if Obama wakes up one day and claims the First Amendment means he can shut down the press because that’s how he interprets it?
Who’s going to stop him?
Obama does think he is king and this country is edging closer and closer to that becoming a reality.