The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


In our constitutional republic, the President is tasked with faithfully executing the laws that the Congress creates. He is given some latitude in interpreting minor elements of legislation, but he is not given the authority to impose taxes, unilaterally eliminate or delay important portions of legislation or otherwise modify the intent of the Congress.

Within months of its passage, it became apparent that Obamacare legislation passed by a Democrat super-majority in Congress with no bipartisan support, was headed toward political disaster. Rather than modifying the legislation to correct obvious problems, Barack Obama decided to unilaterally eliminate or delay important portions of the legislation (solely to gain political advantage in the 2012 presidential election and again in the 2014 mid-terms), and by implication, impose taxes he has no authority to impose.

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit put the brakes on these actions in the Halbig v. Burwell verdict. Obama's shrinking band of supporters screamed that a "right-wing" cabal of judges was to blame. It's rather amusing that one of these "right wing" judges, Thomas B. Griffith, was appointed in 2005, and his nomination was supported by ... Barack Obama.

Jonathan Adler and Michael Cannon provide some background and explanation:
At its heart, though, Halbig is not just about ObamaCare. It is about determining whether the president, like an autocrat, can levy taxes on his own authority.

The president's defenders often concede that he is doing the opposite of what federal law says. Yet he claims that he is merely implementing the law as Congress intended.

Such claims should be met with more than the usual skepticism when made by a president who openly advocates unilateral action—"I've got a pen, and I've got a phone"—when the legislative process doesn't produce the result he wants, and when they are made by a president whose expansive view of his powers the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected 13 times. Unfortunately, the abuse of power exposed in Halbig may trump them all.

Here's where the president broke bad. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act directs states to establish "exchanges" to regulate the sale of health insurance. If a state declines to do so, as 36 states have, the health-care law directs the federal government to "establish and operate such Exchange within the State." But here's the rub: Certain taxpayers can receive subsidized coverage, the law says, if they enroll "through an Exchange established by the State." The law nowhere authorizes subsidies through exchanges established by the federal government.
Dispite his expansive view of presidential power and his overblown opinion of his own abilities, Barack Obama is not the king. Like all participants in our government, he has distinct and hard limits placed on his power. The U.S. Court of Appeals has enforced those limits, and it's quite likely that the Supreme Court will agree.