TAMPA, November 17, 2013 – In a desperate attempt to diffuse criticism of his administration over the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), President Obama has once again broken new constitutional ground.
In a letter dated November 14, Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen informed state insurance commissioners that insurance policies rendered illegal by the legislation “will not be considered to be out of compliance with the market reforms specified below under the conditions specified below.”
The president has just violated his oath of office. No investigation is necessary. He’s put it in writing.
Article II of the U.S. Constitution creates the executive branch of government, including the Office of President. Section 1 of Article II describes how the president will be elected, paid and how he will be sworn into office. It specifies the following oath:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Section 2 describes the president’s duties as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, which critics have already accused Obama of neglecting by bombing Libya without approval by Congress. The administration has been able to fend off these criticisms because the Constitution does not delineate a definitive requirement that Congress declare war before the president orders military action.
Section 3 is quite another story. Section 3 unambiguously states that the president must “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” There’s no escape clause for plunging approval ratings. Not only is the requirement clear, it is arguably the most important domestic duty the president is given.
President Obama has just written a public letter stating he is not going to do it.
Conservatives have vehemently opposed this law from the moment it was proposed. The entire Tea Party movement was born because of it. Regardless, they shouldn’t be receptive to the president’s administrative solution. Setting the precedent that a president can decide which laws or which parts of laws he will enforce is even more harmful than the ACA itself.
House Republicans have drafted the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” which allows insurers to continue to sell health plans that do not meet ACA’s requirements through 2014 to new and existing customers. The president’s solution only exempts existing customers.
The media are treating this as more partisan maneuvering, but there is a far more important issue here. Congress has the constitutional authority to change the law. The president does not.
There is a name for executives who ignore the rule of law or pursue policies in violation of them on their own authority. It’s not “president.”
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
Obama rejects oath of office in writing to state insurance commissioners
Photo Caption: President Barack Obama holds an Affordable Care Act meeting with health insurance company CEOs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)