December 19, 2013
Booklets outlining health insurance options for Californians. (Robyn Beck/Getty Images)
Booklets outlining health insurance options for Californians. (Robyn Beck/Getty Images)

President Obama is, George Will argues, stretching his executive powers enormously by postponing or halting implementation of legislation. Previous Courts Supreme have called this “entirely inadmissable,” but Will thinks the more likely check on Obama’s discretion will be Congress, in order to take back their powers of legislating.

HeadleyFixx sees the situation in exactly the opposite terms: if Congress cannot be moved to legislate, someone has to do it:

George, brilliantly written as always. However, what you write is based upon the wrong intellectual foundation. You use the term, “separation of power.” The Republicans abrogated all power when they refused to play. That the President stepped in to this power vacuum is commendable and necessary.

jarstfer adds that the Supreme Court could intervene as well, but is not:

So — people that are concerned like Will and others could challenge his executive decisions in court. If court decides it was improper, then the admin will change. That is how our gov’t works.

The most common argument against Will’s thesis, though, was that previous President Bush 43 expanded executive powers as well, making a pattern for Obama to follow here. Several commenters suggested Will was being hypocritical, here, but read on.

Chortling_Heel

Anybody seen those 150+ Bush Presidential Signing Statements effecting more than 750 laws passed by Congress?
Have you seen them, George? Perhaps we can search for **George Will – Presidential Signing Statements* and find your RAGE! at the Bush ‘Unitary Executive’?? Fat chance.

And in one of those delicious moments that exalt us all in the comments sections and make PostScript glad to be a PostScript, Rational Actor can slap that argument down. George Will DID call out Bush, in 2007:

Google can be your friend.

[T]he Bush administration’s far-reaching claims of presidential powers have unsettled some understandings of what the law is … consider “signing statements,” whereby presidents, when signing legislation, attach statements sometimes directing the executive branch not to execute certain portions. This practice is, in effect, something the Constitution does not permit — a line-item veto. 

You’re the one who comes across as a … partisan hypocrite, and one not even good enough to do a little casual fact-checking before spouting off. I eagerly await your standard retreat to the race card when proven wrong.

KA BAM!

Though at the time Will thought the attorney general should check and balance the president from inside the executive branch.

hitpoints, finally, thinks the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was written to allow future executive branch tinkering and adapting:

Read the ACA. Many of the implementation details are not in it. Rather, the ACA delegates to the Secretary of [Health and Human Services (HHS)] the power to create specific regulations to achieve the broad outlines of the ACA. For example: the fine that employers must pay for not offering a health plan (the employer mandate) is due only if and when the Secretary of HHS requests it of the company. If the Secretary never requests it, or the President instructs the Secretary to not request it (since that position falls under the Executive branch), then the employer mandate has basically been made moot for that time.

This was, indeed, a fine comments section today. Pats on the back for everyone. Provided it involves no overreaching.

(Okay, pats on the back for everyone but PostScript.)