As arguments over the problems with ObamaCare are raging, there was another discussion occurring on the Hill in the Rayburn Office building. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to explore whether or not Barack Obama has been overstepping his limits during his tenure as president. Not surprisingly, two out of three Constitutional scholars were of the opinion that he certainly has, and not only with his various extensions, waivers, and fund shuffling over his landmark legislation.
Of course, the hearing was split, just as everything else has been - on party lines, with Democrats leaving the room for at least portions of the questioning. That was predictable, and while it could be slightly satisfying to point out the adolescent nature of that behavior, it’s far more important to point out some of the more interesting statements made by the scholars.
Mediaite latched onto the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon, and his contention that this reckless power grab could lead to another revolution. While that might be the extreme, the concept that people may stop paying attention to laws isn’t such a stretch. Lawlessness breeds lawlessness, and when the example is the man that is supposed to be upholding the laws of the land, it is a dangerous situation.
A frequent epithet thrown around on the right is “RINO!,” Republican In Name Only, meaning that the target calls themselves a Republican but isn’t ideologically or even tactically dedicated to the party’s platform. The irony is that the such intraparty purity tests distract from the real political target: DINOs, Democrats In Name Only.
Over the last few years, our friends on the left have become increasingly brazen about how little they value actual democracy. They may be called “Democrats”, but their latent fetish for (benevolent?) autocracy and fascism (minus the mass graves…mostly) belies the name. Just last night the President “joked” about eliminating the legislative branch of our government, and on cue his Volk brayed and whinnied at the idea:
Pres addressing DNC fundraiser at San Francisco Jazz Center. Some 400 supporters paying from $500 to $15,000 each.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 25, 2013
Pres Obama said he can’t sign an Executive Order to nullify Congress, though Dem donors applauded the concept that he should.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 25, 2013
The manufactured crisis last week that led to extraordinary, unprecedented change to the filibuster, prompted by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democrats, is the first step down a road that undermines the nature of the chamber and will, almost certainly, lead to bigger changes.
The Senate was meant to be the more prestigious body of Congress and its members, given six-year terms, were selected to be responsive to state interests in Washington. Members of the House of Representatives, on the other hand, were meant to serve as the voices of the people, subject to re-election every two years.
Contrary to what President Obama said in his statement after the filibuster change, that “if you got a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should be able to pass,” the upper chamber was never meant to serve as a “voice of the people,” nor was meant to rubber stamp majoritarian views or interest.
It was meant, as James Madison once said, “to consist in its proceedings with more coolness, with more system and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.” Passing legislation and approving nominees based on consensus. The filibuster — which has existed as a concept since the chamber was created and in practice since 1837 — was a tool to achieve consensus.
But, over time, the Senate has become more and more like the House, beginning in 1913 with the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, which mandated direct election of senators by voters in their respective states.
The Founding Fathers were concerned about a legislative branch that was too responsive to the whims of majority views, which could potentially be dangerous to essential liberty. In Federalist 10, Madison warned about the problem of faction.
Last Thursday morning, President Obama issued his latest proclamation in an attempt to save face on his farcical promise. Of course, the “relief” came far too late and with far too many restrictions to have any practical, real-world effect.
It’s become instinctive at this point to assume that every policy decision that comes from the Obama administration is a blatant violation of separation of powers. After all, this is the administration that unilaterally delayed enforcement of Obamacare’s employer mandate in direct violation of the statutory requirements. Many prominent commentators have immediately jumped back on this bandwagon again in this latest Obamacare edict.
But here’s the real legal low-down: President Obama and his executive agencies (HHS/DOL/IRS) have almost unlimited discretion in determining what is considered a “grandfathered health plan.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) decided to use the story of a Kentucky family yesterday to illustrate how the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, has been hurting common Americans.
He took the story of the Mangiones to the floor of the Senate to explain why President Obama’s promise regarding people’s freedom of choice was misleading at best.
When the President announced that if you liked your insurance plan you would be able to keep it, he ensured the public that our freedom of maintaining a plan granting us the type of coverage we find fitting to our lifestyle would be respected. Now that a small number of Americans are buying insurance through the glitchy heath care exchange website, we are learning that the promise the President made hasn’t been kept.
Because individuals are required by law to purchase insurance plans that cover more than what they are willing to pay for, people’s plans are being canceled for not qualifying under the new health care laws. The same plans President Obama once said individuals could keep, if they liked it.
According to Sen. Paul, the Mangiones “had an individual policy they were happy with. They paid $300 a month.” Once they enrolled for ObamaCare, they learned that “they are now going to be asked to pay $900 a month for things they don’t want and they didn’t choose to have.”
Sen. Paul went on to explain how his own experience with signing up for Obamacare was a failure and how important it is for us to tackle ObamaCare’s freedom of choice problem by keeping the law from hurting more families.
Quinnipiac University has released its latest poll of President Obama’s approval rating and opinions on various political issues of the day, and the results aren’t pretty:
American voters disapprove 54 - 39 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, his lowest approval rating in any Quinnipiac University national poll since he became president, as even women disapprove 51 - 40 percent, according to a national poll released today.
Perhaps even worse, for the first time in their polling, Quinnipiac finds a majority of voters (52%) think the President is not “honest and trustworthy”:
“Any Democrat with an 11-point approval deficit among women is in trouble. And any elected official with an 8-point trust deficit is in serious trouble.”
“President Obama’s job approval rating has fallen to the level of former President George W. Bush at the same period of his Presidency,” Malloy said.
President Bush’s party lost control of both the House and the Senate a year later, and with less favorable electoral maps to the opposition party at the time than what we’re seeing for next year’s elections.
As bad as the overall ratings are, the specific issue approval ratings are even worse. Ironically, after Fort Hood, Boston, the drone war, and NSA leaks, the only issue where Obama has a positive approval rating is terrorism. On every other issue, he is at least 15 points underwater:
Over the weekend, Capitol Hill was aflutter with news that Republicans in the House and Senate were coming together to finally propose a “fix” to Obamacare. The “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” sponsored by Fred Upton in the House and Ron Johnson in the Senate, would essentially overrule the HHS grandfather rules for what insurance plans can continue to exist after certain dates so that people can keep their current plans no matter what, as the President promised. It would be a fix for the millions of Americans being cancelled by their insurers to comply with the new regulations.
Reporters and pundits saw this as a “shift” in strategy, to finally start working with Democrats to reform the calamitous reform rather than stonewall it. I used to think that helpful collaboration would be the better option, but had a change of heart after the implementation proved so disastrous. So I was horrified when I read the headline suggesting Republicans were coming around. As soon as I decide that stonewalling is the best strategy, the party reverses course. Typical! Then I read the story.
Are you one of the millions of Americans losing your health plan, even if President Obama said you could keep it under his healthcare law? Well, he’s sorry that you believed him when he said it.
“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” President Obama told NBC’s Chuck Todd during an interview on Thursday.
“We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this,” he added.
During his daily briefing with reporters, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was pressed on President Barack Obama’s promise that Americans could keep their health insurance plan under Obamacare after an admission by former White House advisor David Axelrod that some will, indeed, lose their coverage.
Ed Henry, a correspondent from Fox News, pointedly asked Carney about Axelrod’s comments and challenged him to admit that what President Obama said wasn’t true.
“The President, when he was trying to get the law passed, repeatedly said, if you currently have health insurance you will be able to keep your plan,” noted Henry. “This morning David Axelrod was pressed on that point and said, the majority — the vast majority — will be able to keep their plans. He no longer works at the White House.”
“From the podium, will you admit that when president said, if you have a plan, you’ll get to keep it, that that was not true?” asked Henry.
“Well, let’s just be clear, what the President said and what everybody said all along was that there were going to be changes under brought about by the Affordable Care Act that create minimum standards of coverage — minimum services that every insurance plan has to provide,” said Carney.
There’s no question that the individual mandate is the center of the ObamaCare universe. Many other provisions are crucial to the law, but none to the extent of the individual mandate. This is what made John Roberts’ decision last June to abandon originalism by constitutionally validating the individual mandate tax-penalty so painful. Regardless of where the court came down on severability, the law could not have effectively functioned without the mandate intact.
Which brings us to the most recent episode of the ObamaCare delay game, this time focused on a one-year individual mandate delay. At the height of the CR/debt-ceiling showdown, I wrote a post titled “Don’t Settle for One-Year Individual Mandate Delay,” arguing that any acceptable compromise would need to at least delay the exchange subsidies to be an effective barrier toward full implementation.
Those were the good ol’ days where there was hope that the Republicans would stand together and fight for real ObamaCare concessions. Like defunding it or a one-year delay of the entire law. In retrospect, I suppose I should have written a post titled “Don’t Settle for…Nothing.”
So here’s my point again: The first year of the individual mandate isn’t that big of a deal. It’s an existential issue as a matter of constitutional law and individual liberty generally, but don’t believe the hype that the individual mandate is absolutely essential to ObamaCare in the first year.
There are two major reasons why: