No “Amending” Obamacare Law

There is deep public concern over the “Obama Agenda.” The President has authoritarian tendencies that lead, for example, to his governing by executive order. It is natural, when faced with an executive administration bent on controlling virtually every aspect of our lives, to express concerns about what it is trying to accomplish. Just as when we watch a magician at work, though, we are so distracted by what he does (pull a rabbit out of an empty hat, for example) that we seldom have time to consider the inevitable question: “How did he do that?”

Sometimes How the President does something is more important in the long run than What he has done. A case in point is present in the treatment of the “Affordable Care Act”and the recent decision to postpone the activation of the large-business mandate to provide health insurance to employees. The What that has been done is the postponing of a key provision of the Obamacare law for a year, i.e. until after the mid-term election. More important than the one year postponement is the manner in which it is being done.

“Obamacare” was “passed” (or deemed passed) by a one party vote of Congress. It was pushed through quickly as though in response to a health insurance “crisis.” The act was so long and complex that it’s unlikely that any member of congress had time to read or analyze it. But once passed and signed by the President, it became “the law of the land,” (How many times have we been reminded of that?) and that’s where it gets very interesting.

French King Louis XIV claimed “L’etat c’est moi,” — I am the State. Sometimes Barack Obama acts as if he believes that he is the state. But in the USA, the State is more than the President, more that the whole government. It is the people. Hence, when an act becomes the law of the land, it ceases to be a bill introduced to the legislature by a member and its sponsors. Until passage, it is subject to amendment. But once it becomes a law, “the law of the land,” it is our law. It’s no longer subject to amendment. The legislators who wrote the bill and submitted it for consideration, any who voted for or against it, any President who signed it have all lost control of it. Like it or not, it belongs to the people.

Laws can be challenged in courts. Contradictory bills can be presented in
Congress. But the President, who presumably knew what the bill said before he signed it, does not (or should not) have the power to simply change his mind about it and unilaterally amend a law after the fact. To get back to the magician analogy, the postponement is the WHAT he has done. The single-handed alteration of what the law says in black and white is the HOW. The how, if allowed to stand, sets a terrible precedent. It becomes a de facto line-item-veto for Presidents henceforward. It would allow a President to simply discard any section of a law that he/she does not support. It sets the stage for government of men and not of laws, a system that prevails in way too many dictatorships around the world.

Or so it seems from here…

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