When Republicans won the Senate in the 2014 midterms, everyone knew that meant a challenge to the Affordable Care Act would probably come down the pipeline. The 2015 congressional session was likely to propose a defunding bill, or something to eliminate the mandate that every person have health insurance, and definitely a piece to repeal no copay birth control and maybe roll back Medicaid expansion, too.
Well, the GOP is coming for Obamacare, just as everyone expected. But they aren’t waiting until their new compatriots are sworn into office. No, they are starting immediately.
Now that the midterms are settled and no one is in danger of losing a seat, House Republicans are filing a lawsuit against Obamacare. Led by Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio, the suit is accusing the president of using “unilateral powers” regarding portions of the Affordable Care Act.
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“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action,” Boehner said in a press release about the lawsuit.
“If this President can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.”
Ironically, one of the two issues that the lawsuit is being filed against is that the President put the individual mandate on hold for a year for all companies with less that 50 employees. The individual mandate is one of the key portions of Obamacare that Republicans opposed, and they are now saying that it wasn’t put into effect fast enough.
President Barack Obama’s administration called the suit frivolous, according to CNN.com. “Instead of passing legislation to help expand the middle class and grow the economy, Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars pursuing a lawsuit that is without any sound legal basis,” White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine told the news channel.
The GOP is being represented by Jonathan Turley, a George Washington law professor, after two other legal firms turned down their request. Turley views himself as a champion for limited presidential powers, and explained that is why he took the case.
“People are looking at this controversy in terms of whether they support health care or immigration reform — that’s not what this is about,” Turley said. “President Obama did not start this trend toward a dominant American presidency — it’s been building for some time, but it certainly has accelerated under President Obama. We have a system that is not designed for this type of uber-presidency.”
It is definitely true that President Obama didn’t “start this trend.” In fact, the greatest use of executive orders occurred in the first half of the 20th century, when presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued 1000 to over 3000 executive orders per presidency. Executive orders began tamping down to a mere less than 500 starting with Dwight D. Eisenhower, and ranged from 30 to 80 per year since.
So far, the President has averaged just over 33 executive orders per year – less than any president since Grover Cleveland, a fact that he was sure to announce on ABC This Week. ”If you ask historians, take a look at the track records of the modern presidency, I’ve actually been very restrained. And I’ve been very restrained with respect to immigration. I bent over backwards and will continue to do everything I can to get Congress to work,” he said.
This new lawsuit is just one path through which health care reform could be in jeopardy. Republicans like Chris Smith, a New Jersey Congressman, are hoping they can continue to attack the ACA by claiming it is subsidizing abortions, despite the rules put into place to keep abortion coverage separate in the payments as Congress agreed. They are claiming that because an adviser to the policy team said bad things about the intelligence of the American people the whole act should be scrapped. And in the most disturbing possibility, the Supreme Court is considering reversing its prior decision that Congress meant to allow all people to have subsidized insurance plans, regardless of whether they bought them off a state exchange or the federal exchange that was set up because so many Republican states refused to start their own, hoping their own non-participation would grind health care reform to a halt.
So many different ways to try to kill Obamacare. It’s almost like Republicans don’t want people to have affordable health insurance at all.