President Obama is at it again, making up his own rules as he goes.
The president is currently trying to delay the enforcement of the employer health mandate, a key part of “Obamacare.” The mandate was scheduled to go into effect January 2014, but the Obama administration has announced (through a string of blog posts) that it will be postponing that deadline for a year—much to the joy of conservatives, libertarians, and business owners nationwide.
Here’s the problem, though. This decision by the president—to delay a key part of this piece of legislation—is being questioned as (another) abuse of executive oversight. Traditionally, formal changes of this nature are left to Congress. While it is no secret that Obama’s dealings with Congress are often arduous, it cannot be an acceptable recourse for the president to circumvent the legislative branch in an effort to painlessly enact his own agenda. In the words of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa):
“If President Obama wants to make changes to Obamacare, he must come to Congress. … We are a nation governed by laws written by Congress, not memos and blog posts written by bureaucrats.”
But this isn’t the president’s first rodeo; hardly the first time he has bypassed Congress. Obama may not be issuing as many executive orders as the two-term presidents that have preceded him, but that is because he is more of an executive action kind of guy. He has used this measure to enact his own policy agenda on a multitude of issues including gun control, immigration, and drone strikes abroad.
Jonathon Turley, constitutional law professor at George Washington University, has called Obama’s actions a “fascinating transformation.” Turley has become a chief legal critic of the current administration, noting that:
“[Obama] rightfully criticized President Bush for violating the separation of powers and using signing statements to rewrite legislation, but [he] has been far more aggressive in circumventing Congress and far more successful in creating an imperial presidency.”
Delaying the implementation of any part of Obamacare may seem like a victory to us, but it really isn’t when stacked up against the prodigious expansion of executive power that has happened during the Obama administration. When the executive branch usurps more power for itself – it doesn’t give it back. We may be nearing the point of no return, perhaps we are already there.
Law professor at Washington and Lee University and Obamacare supporter, Timothy Jost, predicts that despite impending congressional efforts to “check” the Obama administration, President Obama will likely get his way (again). “I don’t see the courts intervening here,” he said, “I’m sure Congress will hold hearings but there really isn’t anything they can do.”
Well it’s about time for another 13 hour filibuster then, because someone needs to do something—and fast—before the phrase “imperial presidency” becomes redundant.