I would like to mention two stories in the news this week illustrative of this hypothesis.
The President recently deferred a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring that certain companies (namely, those with 50 to 99 employees) offer health insurance to their workers or pay the government a fine of $2000 for each employee . This past Monday, the Treasury Department declared that these smaller businesses now have until 2016 to meet these requirements. In addition, the administration stated that larger employers only had to cover 70% of their employees to escape being fined; previously, the threshold was 95%.
Notably, this is the second time the President extended an employee mandate for Obamacare; the first such change in 2013 gave all employers an extra year to comply with the mandate originally scheduled for January 1st, 2014.
There are many examples of incidences in which the administration made changes to the health care bill without bothering to consult Congress. Consider this:
- · In September, the federal government stated that small business owners would not immediately be able to use the ACA to purchase health insurance, as the law had stated
- · In November, the government said it would now be a full year before small business owners could purchase coverage for employees
- · In December, the government changed the deadline for purchasing health insurance twice – once from the fifteenth of December to the twenty-fourth, and again from the twenty fourth to the thirty-first
- · Also in December, the government stated that fines would delay another provision of the law that gave individuals who had lost their employer-based health care additional time too purchase insurance and avoid a fine
Let me be clear: I would be perfectly content if the entirety of Obamacare were to be delayed eternally. What I object to is the hubris of an administration that believes that it can use executive power to change key elements of a law. I’m not the only one. GOP members of the Congressional House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Michigan representative Fred Upton, are requesting that the Obama administration explain this latest change to the law exempting businesses from covering their employees. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is being asked to provide evidentiary documents of the President’s power to alter the ACA without the approval of the legislative branch.
Article II of the Constitution states that the President must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Does it sound like the President is fulfilling his Constitutional obligation in this respect?
I mentioned there were two stories in the news this week that suggested our great leader has royal aspirations.
Back in May during a speech on the use of drones, the President said, “for the record, I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen — with a drone, or with a shotgun — without due process, nor should any President deploy armed drones over U.S. soil.”
The 5th Amendment, of course, says that “nor shall any person… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The 14th Amendment approved and extended this sentiment. The 5th and 14th amendments can, of course, be tossed on liberty’s funeral pyre with the 1st, 4th, 10th, and others in the wake of Obama’s ascendancy. (Apparently Article II is also now ripe for immolation.)
For the fifth time of which we know, the Obama administration is targeting an American citizen – an alleged terrorist in Pakistan – with extrajudicial killing by drone.
Two of these cases happened back in 2011 when an Yemeni-American cleric named Anwar al-Awlaki, who was alleged to be a high-ranking Al-Qaeda official, was assassinated by drone. The attack also claimed the life of another American named Samir Khan. Mr. Khan was the creative mind responsible for the magazine Inspire, which summoned would-be holy warriors to global jihad.
Again, the Constitution unequivocally states that persons accused of crime have the right to due process prior to imprisonment or execution. Due process, of course, refers to the traditional administration of justice in civilized countries, involving quaint concepts such as trial by jury and the right of habeas corpus.
I don’t have a problem with executing American terrorists. What I have a problem with is doing so solely by executive fiat. As GOP Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said following Obama’s speech in May, “I’m glad the President finally acknowledged that American citizens deserve some form of due process. But I still have concerns over whether flash cards and PowerPoint presentations represent due process; my preference would be to try accused U.S. citizens for treason in a court of law.”
The Obama administration is acutely aware of how sensitive extrajudicial assassinations of Americans are the in court of public opinion, if not that of law. The ACLU and legal experts have challenged the administration’s invocation of executive power to justify these killings of American citizens. Unfortunately, no GOP Congressional members have spoken out in opposition to the planned assassination of the American in Pakistan.
This is shameful and yet expected. The GOP is united in its hatred of Obamacare, and rightly so. When it comes to issues like NSA surveillance and drone killings – that is, when it comes to protecting the Bill of Rights – Republicans are more hesitant to speak out. I’m sure that in coming days Rand Paul will have something to say about the planned assassination of a fellow American without due process, but it remains to be seen if his Congressional peers will follow suit. As I have noted in a previous piece, the GOP is coming around on NSA surveillance, but it has a long way to go when it comes to being unified against extrajudicial capital punishment.
Obama may think he is a king, but it is only because we allow him to do so. Executive overreach is to be resisted both when it comes to unauthorized changing of laws at home and in killing Americans overseas.
We are better than this. It is our Constitution that King Obama is happily burning in between state dinners and vacations. What are we going to do about it?
Thomas Davis – NEWSslinger Contributor