Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board is everything its critics say and worse. It is a democracy-skirting, Congress-blocking, powers-unseparating, law-entrenching, tax-hiking, fund-appropriating, price-controlling, health-care-rationing, death-paneling, technocrat-thrilling, authoritarian, anti-constitutional super-legislature. Its very existence is testament to government incompetence. It stands as a milestone on the road to serfdom.
[I]f President Obama fails to appoint any IPAB members, all these powers fall to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has delivered another blow to President Barack Obama, who has had an incredibly rough week due to a series of very serious scandals, by finding a recess appointment to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to be unconstitutional:
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday said an appointment President Barack Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board was invalid, becoming the second circuit to question the validity of the labor board’s decisions.
The 102-page opinion, in a case called National Labor Relations Board v. New Vista, focused on the appointment of Craig Becker, a former board member who was appointed by Obama during a two-week Senate break in March 2010. (Becker stepped down from the board in 2012.) These breaks are often referred to as “intrasession” breaks, as opposed to intersessions, when the Senate is between sessions.
“We hold that the ‘recess of the Senate’ means only intersession breaks, and so we conclude that Member Becker’s appointment was invalid,” Judge Brooks Smith of the 3rd Circuit wrote in a 2-1 decision that Judge Franklin Van Antwerpen joined and Judge Joseph Greenaway dissented from.
There were actually three recess appointments made by President Obama to the NLRB in January 2012, but the appellate court only focused on one. In a decision earlier this year, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals found all three to be unconstitutional.
After the IRS and DOJ scandals became public knowledge late last week and earlier this week, Reuters used the stories as a chance to analyize President Barack Obama’s civil liberties record.
While he seemed like a stark contrast to George W. Bush during the 2008 presidential campaign, the analysis reveals that Obama’s administration, has been a disappointment on civil liberties. Some constitutional lawyers interviewed by Reuters attribute this to the “realties” of the presidency.
But do these so-called “realities” give a president the excuse to infringe upon civil liberties? And shouldn’t there accountability when administration officials, whether they be in the IRS or DOJ, act in a manner is grossly out of line?
In an editorial at The Daily Beast, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, sees the scandals this week as both a failure of President Obama’s leadership and part of his administration’s continuing assault on civil liberties:
So who is really responsible? Who knew what, and when did they know it?
The day the story broke, Carney tried to deflect blame by claiming that the “IRS is an independent enforcement agency.” However, it is a part of the Department of the Treasury, which answers to the president.
Democratic campaign strategist David Axelrod argued that the “vast” size of the federal government makes it impossible for the president to know what is going on beneath him in the Executive Branch.
If President Obama is not watching over the Executive Branch, then who is?
“The irony is inescapable. Ms. Lerner gets to use her constitutional rights, but then won’t stay and answer questions about Americans being denied their constitutional rights.” — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
Earlier this morning, Lois Lerner, the embattled director of the IRS’s Tax-Exempt Division, invoked her Fifth Amendment right before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and refused to answer questions about the agency’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative organizations:
“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations,” Lerner, the head of an IRS division overseeing tax-exempt groups that targeted conservative groups, said before the House Oversight Committee.
Lerner then said she was following her counsel’s advice not to testify. “
“I know that some people will assume that I have done something wrong,” she said. “I have not.”
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)asked that she reconsider, but she declined.
Issa then tried to dismiss Lerner, but Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), himself a former prosecutor, said that Lerner had waived her Fifth Amendment rights via her opening statement. Issa eventually did dismiss the IRS official, but said she could be recalled.
Could another reporter have been targeted by the Obama Administration? Sharyl Attkisson, the CBS News reporter who put the Benghazi scandal on the map, has confirmed that there has been a breach on her computers, though the source of the intrusion isn’t clear:
Sharyl Attkisson, the Emmy-award winning CBS News investigative reporter, says that her personal and work computers have been compromised and are under investigation.
“I can confirm that an intrusion of my computers has been under some investigation on my end for some months but I’m not prepared to make an allegation against a specific entity today as I’ve been patient and methodical about this matter,” Attkisson told POLITICO on Tuesday. “I need to check with my attorney and CBS to get their recommendations on info we make public.”
In an earlier interview with WPHT Philadelphia, Attkisson said that though she did not know the full details of the intrustion, “there could be some relationship between these things and what’s happened to James [Rosen],” the Fox News reporter who became the subject of a Justice Dept. investigation after reporting on CIA intelligence about North Korea in 2009.
After months of waiting President Barack Obama to stop sitting on his hands, the House passed a resolution last night in a 241 to 175 vote to bypass the White House and approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline:
The House passed a bill Wednesday that would approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline by an act of law, and take the decision out of the hands of President Obama.
Members voted 241-175 in favor of H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act. Republican supporters were joined by 19 Democrats, much less than the level of Democratic support in the last Congress.
The House also accepted a lone Republican amendment from Rep. Randy Weber (Texas), which highlights State Department findings that say the Keystone pipeline is environmentally sound. Weber’s language passed 246-168.
President Obama has promised to veto the measure. That generally means that the Senate won’t even bother taking up the measure. But the upper chamber did pass an amendment to its budget back in March that approved Keystone XL.
While Democrats are paying lip-service to holding the IRS accountable for its targeting of Tea Party groups, ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is trying to spin the scandal as a reason to limit political speech:
The IRS is under heavy fire from both parties following recent revelations that some in the agency singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for a certain tax-exempt status.
Pelosi condemned those actions Thursday, saying those responsible “were wrong and must be held accountable.” But the Democratic leader was also quick to link the scandal to the broader issue of campaign finance, arguing that the episode would never have happened if Congress overhauled the system to eliminate so-called 501(c)(4) groups altogether.
Those groups, which do not have to disclose their donors, have gained power and prominence since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision empowered them to participate directly in elections provided they focus primarily on “social welfare” and not candidate advocacy.
“These actions highlight why we must overturn Citizens United,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “There is a very thin line … that these so-called ‘social welfare’ organizations must make their priority promoting social welfare, rather than engaging in politics. Clearly, this has not been [the case].
There have already been a number of stories written on the effects of ObamaCare on many small businesses. Perhaps no enterprise has felt the impacts of the law worse than the restaurant industry.
ObamaCare requires employers with over 50 employees to offer insurance coverage to those who work 30 hours or more, which is considered to be “full-time” under the law, or otherwise pay a $2,000 fine per worker. This is known as the “employer mandate.” Opponents of ObamaCare warned that this mandate would hurt investment and many workers, who would either lose their jobs or face scaled back hours. Supporters of the law obviously didn’t care enough listen.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the plight of restaurant franchisees who are struggling to remain profitable as the realities of ObamaCare hit their businesses:
Sam Ballas, chief executive of ECW Enterprises Inc., owner of East Coast Wings & Grill, a 26-unit chain in North Carolina and Texas, in March imposed a three- to five-unit limit, for the time being, on the number of restaurants that franchisees can own, because of worries about health-care costs.
Mr. Ballas said several East Coast Wings franchisees are up against that limit now and that one is considering selling a restaurant to remain below the threshold.
Despite the Justice Department coming under fire for its seizure of AP phone records, which put the press in the middle of the Obama Administration’s war on whistleblowers, Attorney General Eric Holder is planning another controversial move.
Holder, who is certainly no stranger to scandal due to the DOJ’s involvement in Operation Fast and Furious and his subsequent refusal to turnover documents related to the gun-running scheme, is planning to use “regulatory power to make smaller changes” to gun control laws:
In an interview with Attorney General Eric Holder, after discussing the IRS scandal of seizing AP phone records, NPR’s Carrie Johnson checked in with Holder on the issue of gun control. According to Johnson, Holder stated that although the White House lost the battle over expanding background checks for gun purchasers, the administration will be trying again later this year to push gun control in Congress and using their “regulatory power to make smaller changes in the meantime.” Confirming the administration’s unrelenting commitment to what many believe is an infringement of the Second Amendment, Holder declared that the goal is, “moving the needle in the way in which the American people want, which is to make guns less accessible to people that should not have them.”
“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.” — George Orwell, 1984
On May 5th, speaking at Ohio State University, Barack Obama lamented that “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”
Obama has it exactly wrong. It is not that our experiment in self-rule is a sham, or that it can’t be trusted, it is that the experiment has been undermined by the growing power of government in our lives, the very danger of which the Founding Fathers warned us. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” declared that “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” Obama tries to convince us of just the opposite; namely, that we should place our trust in a benevolent government which will take care of us, and all we have to do is give up a little freedom.