President Obama is planning to break the law, once again, in an effort to protect vulnerable Democrats in the Senate. According to news reports, “the White House will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet Obamacare’s minimum coverage requirements.” In the absence of this “directive,” health insurance companies would have to cancel millions of health policies just a few weeks before November’s congressional elections. Obama’s edict would theoretically forestall, until after those crucial midterms, a tsunami of voter outrage that would inevitably drown the reelection prospects of many Democrats.
It’s not clear, however, that another delay of this Obamacare provision will save the Democrats. The people who vote in midterm elections are, on average, more sophisticated than the voters who participate in presidential elections. The percentage of voters who remember Obama’s past deceptions will be much higher in November than it was in 2012. Thus, as Jonathan S. Tobin writes in Commentary, “Democratic optimism about this underhanded and unconstitutional tactic… may be misplaced. The mere fact of so many delays as well as the evidence of the damage already done by the law to so many voters may outweigh any tactical advantages won by the stalling strategy.”
Most of the midterm voters will remember that this gambit would not be necessary had the President not lied about letting them keep health plans they liked. Many will also remember that, while running for President, Obama promised not to include an individual mandate in his health care reform plan. Moreover, many will know that this is merely the latest unilateral change the President has made to what he tells us is the “law of the land.” Since its passage, no fewer than 19 similar “directives” have been issued by his administration. Most of these voters will have the critical thinking skills to understand that a successful health reform program would not require so many repairs so soon.
More than a few of this year’s midterm voters will also harbor serious doubts concerning the constitutionality of Obama’s mounting pile of executive orders. Indeed, the President is issuing these orders with such frequency that a majority of midterm voters may consider it healthy to turn the Senate over to the GOP just to prevent him from going completely off the constitutional rails. And such concerns would not be unique to them. Similar worries were expressed to the House Judiciary Committee early last December by constitutional scholars Nicholas Rosenkranz of the Georgetown University Law Center and Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School.
The latter returned to the House on February 26 to reiterate his belief that Obama has brought us to a “constitutional crisis” that threatens the separation of powers built into our system of government by its founders. Turley said, in his written statement, “President Obama has repeatedly violated this doctrine in the circumvention of Congress in areas ranging from health care to immigration law to environmental law.” His statement concludes thus: “We are now at a constitutional tipping point for our system. If balance is to be re-established, it must begin before this President leaves office and that will likely require every possible means to reassert legislative authority.”
It’s clear, however, that neither Obama nor his fellow Democrats care about such concerns. In fact, last Friday, he actually joked about this very serious situation in a speech to the DNC: “It’s after 5:00. So this is now officially happy hour with the Democratic Party. (Applause.) I can do that. It is an executive action. I have the authority. (Laughter.)” Having delivered that thigh-slapper, he got more guffaws from his audience by mocking Republican objections to his usurpation of legislative prerogatives: “They’ll complain about something, and then we take steps to fix it — ‘You’re a tyrant.’” (Laughter.) One suspects these people will have fewer reasons to laugh after November.
Obama probably didn’t imbibe as much alcohol on Friday evening as did the members of his sycophantic audience. They need the false sense of security far more than he does. Besides, he’s already drunk with power. And, regardless of how another implementation delay for Obamacare’s minimum coverage provision affects the midterms, he will remain employed until January 2017. But, if the voters are astute enough to immure him with a Congress wholly controlled by the GOP, perhaps he can be prevented from destroying the Republic.