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Former HHS Undersecretary: President’s Obamacare Delay A ‘Line-Item Veto’ Abuse Of Power

July 22, 2013 by  

A lot of conservatives have seized upon President Barack Obama’s recent decision to delay a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to revisit the flaws inherent in the legislation, as well as to castigate the law as a monument to the encroachment of the Executive Branch well beyond its Constitutionally-designated role.

But Ben Sasse, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health And Human Services, points out one aspect of the President’s postponement of Obamacare’s employer mandate provision that’s so far gone largely unnoticed, even by Obama’s fiercest critics: the President is essentially editing the law – a 2,300-page monster which Congress passed intact despite having read most of it – to suit his own political purposes, post facto.

That’s a manifestly egregious Constitutional no-no.

“Obamacare is a ticking time bomb for Democrats in the 2014 elections. Nobody knows this better than President Barack Obama, which is why over the Fourth of July holiday weekend he unilaterally decided to delay its controversial employer mandate provision until after the midterm elections,” Sasse wrote in Sunday’s Omaha World Herald.

[T]the moment the Obama administration declared the employer mandate would be delayed until after a tough election, this debate transcended a fight over health care and became a fight about transforming our constitutional system of separate but equal branches of government.

This is now about ceding power to a runaway executive branch that the Constitution simply does not allow.

…By enforcing only the provisions he finds politically expedient or tolerable, the president decided he could make the law what he desires it to be rather than what the words on the page actually say. He essentially granted himself the line item veto.

That’s unConstitutional, as Sasse goes on to demonstrate. It’s one thing for the President to carry out the law as Congress enacted it (Article II, Section 3), but it’s another thing entirely to decide which aspects of the law to enforce, and which to neglect. To do so is to monarchically amend the law that the legislative branch passed.

For that reason, House Republicans’ effort last week to approve a commensurate delay in the implementation of Obamacare mandates for individuals may have appeared well intentioned, but it effectively signaled Congressional conservatives’ tacit acceptance of Obama’s legislative cherry-picking.

That means that Congress needs either to enforce Obamacare, or repeal it. Any middle ground means more concessions to an abuse of executive power that’s already way out of control.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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