Among President Obama’s more outlandish comments at his Friday press conference was his utterance in response to a question as to whether, given his unilateral postponement of Obamacare’s employer mandate, other presidents could be allowed to pick and choose what parts of laws to enforce.
With respect to health care, I didn’t simply choose to delay this on my own. This was in consultation with businesses all across the country, many of whom are supportive of the Affordable Care Act, but — and many of whom, by the way, are already providing health insurance to their employees but were concerned about the operational details of changing their HR operations if they’ve got a lot of employees, which could be costly for them, and them suggesting that there may be easier ways to do this.
First off, this is duplicitous. The president may have consulted with others, but he unilaterally decided to change the law and threatened to veto any bill that would legally concretize his decision.
He compounds his misleading answer by adding: “We did have the executive authority to do so, and we did so. But this doesn’t go to the core of implementation.”
As for the “executive authority,” I’d be curious to know where it comes from. Certainly not the law itself. Does he believe the Constitution allows him to only enforce parts of laws he thinks will work? Recall that as a senator Obama bitterly denounced “signing statements,” which entailed a presidential declaration that certain parts of a law were unconstitutional and therefore would not be enforced. Imagine what he would have said had President George W. Bush decided to ignore parts of laws simply because they were bothersome.
Finally, his assertion that the employer mandate doesn’t go to the “core” of implementation is odd, to put it mildly. That delay will cost an estimated $12 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It will unleash a torrent of fraud as recipients of the exchange subsidies are permitted to operate on the “honor system.”
But of course no president is empowered to ignore parts of laws, even ones he dubs to be outside the “core” of legislation. The president should have been challenged at the press conference. Congress should not allow its job of making and amending legislation to be usurped by the president, whose theory would allow a President Chris Christie or President Scott Walker to announce he was unilaterally halting the individual mandate or the medical device tax.
The president’s penchant for authoritarianism has not been limited to Obamacare. He has also altered immigration law and gone after the work requirement in welfare legislation. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) has put together a handy compendium of these power grabs. Couple those with his recess appointments and excessive use of executive privilege to deny Congress the ability to conduct oversight and you have a president attempting to exercise unprecedented powers.
The left is convulsed over the president’s enforcement of duly passed anti-terror legislation that is subject to both judicial and legislative oversight. Yet when it comes to their favorite domestic initiatives, they muster no concern about an out-of-control executive. They should keep this in mind when the next GOP president comes along.