---- — Slowly at first, then all of a sudden, the Obama administration has devolved into the Obama regime. Those pesky impediments on his predecessors — namely, the separation of powers, federal law and the Constitution — have proved as tough as tissue paper in containing President Barack Obama’s ambition to impose statism on America. From “Obamacare” to unions to telephones, it’s basically another day, another decree.
“I have to figure out what I can do outside of Congress through executive actions,” Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus, Politico.com reports. In Jacksonville, Fla., last month, Obama announced: “Where I can act on my own, I’m going to act on my own. I won’t wait for Congress.”
Obamacare’s internal contradictions threaten to tear it apart, like a crippled satellite re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Even committed collectivists like Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa Jr. and former Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean are fleeing.
But Obama still tries to keep Obamacare in orbit — by fiat. Obama gave employers another year to offer health insurance to their payrolls of 50 or more employees.
But nothing in Obamacare — technically, the Affordable Care Act — empowers Obama to waive this mandate. Section 1513(d) clearly declares: “The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after Dec. 31, 2013.”
When Congressional Democrats screamed that Obamacare’s costs might prompt staff resignations, Obama decided to extend the program’s subsidies to members and their employees. Thus, Obama will bail out legislators who make $174,000 annually and aides whose 2012 earnings averaged $81,419 in the House alone, Legistorm.com estimates.
While taxpayers may weep for America’s brave Hill staffers and their selfless bosses, Obama and the Office of Personnel Management rescued them illegally. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “OPM has no authority to pay for insurance plans that lack (Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan) contracts.”
Consequently, any Democrat or Republican who accepts this lawless perk will be guilty of receiving stolen goods.
Obama made three recess appointments to the five-member National Labor Relations Board Jan. 4, 2012, even though the Senate was not in recess; it technically held pro forma sessions during a break. Hence, the D.C. Circuit Court concluded last Jan. 25 that those nominations were “constitutionally invalid.” Without those members, the NLRB lacked a quorum. That rendered bogus its decisions during the previous year. Regardless, the NLRB issued 112 rulings after the D.C. Circuit delegitimized those three members. Last May 16 and July 17, respectively, the Third and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeal backed the D.C. Circuit’s opinion. The Senate on July 30 confirmed fresh NLRB appointees, who now compose a proper quorum. They are sifting through 18 months of board decisions that the Fourth Circuit vacated as illegal.
By June 15, 2012, Congress had failed to adopt the so-called Dream Act. So what? Without legislative approval, Obama that day brazenly abandoned his duty to enforce existing law and instead shielded from deportation illegal aliens up to age 30 whose parents brought them here before age 16.
Just last week, Obama unveiled a brand-new $6 billion cellphone tax, to fund high-speed Internet links for government schools. Rather than support legislation for this tax, Obama expects his appointees to the Federal Communications Commission to impose it by edict. As White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said, “Unfortunately, we haven’t seen a lot of action in Congress, so the president has advocated an administrative, unilateral action to get this done.”
There is a way to get things done in Washington, and this is not it. Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a reliably liberal jurist, put it well: “There is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the president to enact, to amend or to repeal statutes.”
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.