President Obama’s claim that the achievements of his first term ranked his presidency as the fourth greatest in American history initiated these posts. This edition will focus on the administration’s tendency toward fiat, executive orders and ignoring the more inconvenient aspects of the constitution.
President Obama has written and spoken about flaws in the constitution. He also has publically promised that his main goal is to “fundamentally transform” America. Even more recently, he pledged to accelerate his agenda by executive orders and rules whether or not Congress was prepared to follow. If the legislative branch chooses to deliberate, vote, advise and consent on his plans, as is their constitutional responsibility, he will do what he wants to do and let God sort it out. Here are a few instances where he already has demonstrated his predilection. There are many more across all executive departments.
- After the infamous Section 1233 mandating “end of life” counseling was voted out of the final Obamacare bill, it was reinstated by stealth regulation in November 2010 tucked amongst hundreds of new Medicare rules. Friday night ‘document drops’ of hundreds of regulations and disclosures camouflaged on the slowest day of the news cycle has been an administration mainstay.
- The Interior Department in Secretarial Order 3310 gave itself the authority to designate public lands as “Wild Lands” taking them off limits to such things as domestic oil exploration. Previously, such designations had been the exclusive prerogative of Congress.
- Before the outcry shut it down, after the “cap and trade” bill was defeated in Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency drew up regulations enacting the same anti-carbon measures rejected by the legislature.
- While many presidents have employed recess appointments, President Obama has made it an art form. When the Senate could not see its way to approving Craig Becker, an AFL-CIO and SEIU lawyer, to the National Labor Relations Board, he was made a recess appointee. After all, the unions had contributed over $400 million almost entirely to Democrat candidates in the previous election, and where was the quid for the quo? Although after the appointment ran out, Becker was rejected by the Senate and left the board, during his tenure the NLRB prevented Boeing from building a new factory in South Carolina, a right to work state. The president made other recess appointments when the Senate was actually in session, which was remarkably unconstitutional. He ignored the protests, challenging the Senate to a constitutional crisis, which Harry Reid declined to pursue.
- Recently, we’ve seen an Amish farmer put out of business selling raw milk to neighbors, which his family had done for generations. We once bought such milk from a local farmer in Maine, and it was healthy and the best milk we ever had.
- Last week we read about a four year old in North Carolina, whose mother made her a turkey and cheese sandwich with a banana and apple juice lunch. Citing a regulation put in place under the umbrella of Obamacare, the school confiscated the child’s lunch as not meeting their guidelines and gave the girl the prescribed chicken nuggets, then charged the mother for it. This was put in place as part of an executive order from the president to retrain American citizens by ‘behavior modification.’ Nanny state, indeed.
A recent furor boiled up over Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius enforcing regulations mandating that Obamacare health insurance coverage for all employees of private companies include abortifacient drugs. There was no provision for conscience exemptions. When the Catholic Conference of Bishops objected to this unprecedented crushing of First Amendment protections for churches, the president offered a ‘compromise’ wherein he simply ruled by fiat that, should church organizations demur, their insurance companies must offer at their own expense free coverage for these services. This transparent ruse has become typical of the administration. If an awkward constitutional issue blocks their way, declare it a non issue and override the niceties.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force, under Obamacare, makes all decisions on coverage such as the contraception decision. Empowered to evaluate all preventative health services and decide which will be covered by insurance, the task force rates services “A” through “D” or “I” for “Insufficient Evidence”. Under Obamacare, services rated “A” or “B” such as colon cancer screening for adults between 50 and 75 must be covered in full without co-pays. Services rated “C” or “D” such as screening for ovarian or testicular cancer could end up not covered at all. We first became aware of the task force’s new powers buried within the 2,500 pages of the bill, when it recommended that women ages 40-49 shouldn’t get routine mammograms, men shouldn’t get routine screening for prostate cancer, nor should women be screened for the viruses that cause cervical cancer. It is one of the few Federal agencies with no review or appeal process defined; they have no requirement for public deliberations and are the only Federal health agency mandated to take cost into account when evaluating medical decisions. What further restriction, mandate and cost cutting awaits an aging nation remains to be seen. It’s a Brave New World.
Embedded in the thousands of pages of the Obamacare, stimulus and financial reform bills is the power to issue regulations and executive orders to interpret and implement them. This administration has embraced this control with great enthusiasm in order to “fundamentally transform” America and modify the behavior of Americans. Without even the modest restraint of a reelection, what will a second term bring? If this fails to give you pause, you aren’t paying attention.
Psalm 118: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.