Despite Vinson’s Ruling, Obama Dictates State Enforcement

President Obama may claim the new title “Dictator” outside the beltway, as he decrees to states the mandatory enforcement of ObamaCare despite Judge Vinson’s ruling against the individual mandate earlier this year.  Ethan Huff’s article from Natural News paints an eerie picture for the future of Washington politics and American citizens beholden to its policies.  Despite the individual mandate infringing on states’ and citizens’ rights, a deeply embedded principle manifested in the Constitution via the Tenth Amendment, Obama continues to trample upon the principles of liberty and self-determination.  One wonders how the President of the United States of America can sleep at night while he attempts by day to defy over half the states in the Union.

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“At a recent meeting with US state governors in Washington, DC, President Obama made clear his intent to force the individual states to comply with his unconstitutional health care overhaul. Twenty-six states have already filed federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the bill — and some judges have already declared it to be null and void — prior to the announcement….
In eerily dictator-style fashion, Obama stated to the governors that they are free to come up with modifications to the bill that will help make it enforceable more quickly, but that any attempts to dismantle it will not be tolerated. Such a proposition, of course, is a gross violation of the law, as a president cannot arbitrarily oppose the will of the judicial branch and demand that unconstitutional provisions be enforced.”

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Perhaps Judge Vinson’s recent stay with the condition that the Obama administration file an appeal within seven days or the ruling stands has lead the President to a fit of irrationality.  Not likely.  He is simply continuing the trend of government expansion characterizing much of American history since the New Deal, and Judge Vinson is none to happy.  In Vinson’s March 3rd ruling, he stated,

“So to ‘clarify’ my order and judgment: The individual mandate was declared
unconstitutional. Because that ‘essential’ provision was unseverable from the rest
of the Act, the entire legislation was void. This declaratory judgment was expected
to be treated as the ‘practical’ and ‘functional equivalent of an injunction’ with
respect to the parties to the litigation. This expectation was based on the ‘longstanding
presumption’ that the defendants themselves identified and agreed to be
bound by, which provides that a declaratory judgment against federal officials is a
de facto injunction….It was not expected that they would effectively ignore the order and declaratory judgment for two and one- half weeks, continue to implement the Act, and only then file a belated motion to ‘clarify’.”

Important to note here is Vinson’s emphasis on a “de facto” injunction.  For those unfamiliar with the term de facto, Black’s Law Dictionary defines it as “Actual, existing in fact: having effect even though not formally or legally recognized.” Judge Vinson, therefore, is saying that common knowledge of our judicial system establishes a tacit agreement to any ruling the judge declares.  That said, the hypocrisy coming from the Obama administration is blatant and smacks of a degree of arrogance usually reserved for the likes of America’s Dick Cheneys.  Such antics are viewed by most as an attempt to implement as many provisions of ObamaCare as possible before the courts get another say in the matter. Peter Suderman says of  Obama’s antics: “The thinking seems to be that the the [sic] more of the law that’s implemented, the harder it is to undo. Vinson’s ruling gives them the stay necessary to continue implementation, but says that they can’t postpone resolution forever.”

Make no mistake, implementation of ObamaCare represents a new step forward for federal rule with or without Vinson’s ruling.  But the Obama administration’s chicanery in response to the ruling signifies a new threat.  As Monty Pelerin (pen name) said: “From the Constitution and The Rule of Law flow all the greatness and goodness of this country. Without them, we are finished.”  It seems the ball is in the states’ court, as they must now decide just how far presidential authority can reach.  If they maintain resolve and continue to oppose ObamaCare’s implementation, they will force the president to abide by the law.   If successful, they will embellish the term “Union”  with a refreshed meaning and renewed vigor in the face of federal power.

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ObamaCare Misleading and Constitutionally Flagrant

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Perhaps one of the most dubious myths in American history is that the free-market, in most cases, leads to monopoly. Thus, government intervention has been deemed the only savior of the free-market since the early days of progressivism nearly a century ago.  Within this context, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins dissect ObamaCare’s so-called victory over “preexisting conditions.” The authors focus on three issues relating government involvement to the inefficiencies we typically see as characterizing the health care debacle:

(1) our tax code,

(2) mandates at the state level – what individual states require to be offered in any given health care package, and

(3) insurance blindfolds, which dictate to insurance companies how they should factor various risks.  In effect, this is equivalent to social planning by the government via setting artificial guidelines to determine the price of a given commodity (price-fixing).

These three areas highlight the inefficiencies associated with health care today, but are typically laid to rest within the dungeon of laissez-fair economics.  The net result of this is government expansion and takeover of health care for all Americans.

“Washington’s control of medicine has grown slowly, evolving piecemeal over decades. Even before ObamaCare, half of all heath care spending was controlled by the government.

The general pattern of the expansion works like this: advocates point to some group in real or alleged dire need and declare that Washington has a duty to act; Washington eventually does. It started with the poor (Medicaid) and the elderly (Medicare). Then came the uninsured in need of emergency care (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act). Then came middle-class parents (S-CHIP).”

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F.A. Hayek was of the position that any government takeover of industry or commerce is an assault on liberty.  In his infamous A Road to Serfdom regarding the inherent dichotomy between freedom and socialism of any kind, he states:

“What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guaranty [sic] of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.  It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves.  If all the means of production were vested in a single hand, whether it be nominally that of “society” as a whole or that of a dictator, whoever exercises this control has complete power over us.” (my emphasis, p. 115)

So is ObamaCare really a government takeover of health care.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says no, as she makes an artificial distinction between federal and state intervention.  “The Affordable Care Act puts states in the driver’s seat because they often understand their health needs better than anyone else – and that is why it is so frustrating to hear opponents of reform falsely attack the law as ‘nationalized health care’.”  It seems that our leaders in Washington fail to grasp the concept that government interference is not limited to federal involvement.  Any interference with my ability to purchase a commodity, whether it concerns price, composition, or knowledge about that product, is an affront to liberty and the free-market.  Therefore, such a distinction between state and federal carries little weight in the grand scheme of ObamaCare.  Rather, the distinction we, as free Americans, need consider is that between public and private.

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Peter Suderman makes that distinction.  He asks “what difference is there between a public system where the government taxes and spends your money, and a ‘private’ system where the government forces you to spend your money in the same way?”  If you can honestly answer that there is a difference here and that force plays no part in ObamaCare, then I invite you to recheck your premises.  Not only does force enter the equation along lines of economic freedom, but the Obama administration’s refusal to abide by Judge Vinson’s ruling in Florida renders ObamaCare constitutionally flagrant. Tracy Schmaler of the Justice Department made it abundantly clear that the Obama administration has no intention of following Vinson’s ruling.

“We are analyzing this opinion to determine what steps, if any — including seeking a stay — are necessary while the appeal is pending to continue our progress toward ensuring that Americans do not lose out on the important protections this law provides.”

However, through the end of last year, the Obama administration granted four waivers to Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, and Tennessee along with over 700 individual waivers granted to various organizations who simply cannot afford the higher benefit caps.  It seems as though Washington bureaucrats refuse to read the writing on the wall.  Despite ObamaCare’s infringement upon free commerce and liberty, its constitutional flagrancy, and its fiscal irrationalities, our leaders in Washington – and many of us around the nation – still act from and base what we regard as fact upon broken-down ideological ties to party politics rather than using our minds to make sound judgments.  Perhaps a reminder from one of our founders, Thomas Jefferson: “I am not a Federalist, because I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men…Such an addiction is the last degredation [sic] of a free and moral agent.  If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all” (American Sphinx, p. 124).  After all, it is our ability to judge with a free conscience that makes us free, not our loyalties to any organization.  The issue of government outgrowth is not one of party politics.  It is nothing less than an issue of self-determination, the only barometer of a free individual.

Ignoring Florida Court Ruling, ObamaCare an Affront to Liberty

 

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The Cato Institute’s Michael F. Cannon and Ilya Shapiro discuss uncertainty surrounding the debate over Judge Vinson’s ruling on ObamaCare and the mixed reactions among state officials.  Whereas Wisconsin’s Attorney General feels a sense of relief at Vinson’s decision, Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell is looking for advice. However, one thing is clear: as of now ObamaCare is unconstitutional on grounds of the individual mandate. Below is a passage stating what Vinson’s ruling means and its impact on specific areas of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Moreover, it is not unreasonable to argue that Vinson’s ruling applies to the nation as a whole. After all, this lawsuit facially attacked the law rather than just challenging its application to particular parties. This interpretation of Vinson’s ruling would stop ObamaCare dead in its tracks. Under that reading, and absent further judicial action:

ObamaCare’s so-called “consumer protections” — which are driving premiums higher, pushing Americans out of their health plans, and exposing patients with pre-existing conditions to medical underwriting — are now invalid.

ObamaCare’s tax hikes, including the 10-percent tax on indoor tanning services and higher taxes on consumer-directed health plans, are now void.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services may no longer distribute grants to states to fund ObamaCare’s high-risk pools, review premium increases, or set up health insurance exchanges.

ObamaCare’s political payoffs, including the $250 checks Medicare is sending to millions of seniors, the direct subsidies to employers who offer retiree coverage, and the infamous “Louisiana Purchase,” must now cease.

HHS must stop implementing the long-term care entitlement program that Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D.-N.D.) called “a Ponzi scheme of the first order.”

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As Cannon and Shapiro argue, ordinary citizens, employers, and insurance companies are at a loss.  It could be at least six months before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the Obama administration‘s appeal.  With billions of dollars and the entire restructuring of the health care system at stake, many feel the only constitutionally and fiscally prudent avenue is to rescind all aspects of the legislation until the judicial process plays out.

However, the Justice Department is not sitting down without a fight.  Peter Suderman points out that Vinson’s failure to issue an injunction has prompted clarification.  Tracy Schmaler spoke on behalf of the Justice Department: “We believe it is important to put to rest any doubts about the ability of states and other parties to continue to implement these critical programs and consumer protections provided under this statute.”

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In addition, the brief submitted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services calls on issues of instability and uncertainty:

“The Court’s declaratory judgment potentially implicates hundreds of provisions of the Act and, if it were interpreted to apply to programs currently in effect, duties currently in force, taxes currently being collected, and tax credits that may be owed at this time or in the near future, would create substantial uncertainty. Because of the sweeping nature of the declaratory judgment, such an interpretation would pose a risk of substantial disruption and hardship for those who rely on the provisions that have already been implemented.”

As the Obama administration reinforces its familiar consumer-protection line of reasoning along with the fear-mongering associated with “substantial disruption and hardship,” it says nothing to the effects of such legislation on rising premiums and increased patient exposure to medical underwriting (see first bullet above).  Again, Tracy Schmaler of the Justice Department made it abundantly clear that the Obama administration has no intention of following Vinson’s ruling.

“We are analyzing this opinion to determine what steps, if any — including seeking a stay — are necessary while the appeal is pending to continue our progress toward ensuring that Americans do not lose out on the important protections this law provides.”

Perhaps the Obama administration should have thought about issues of uncertainty before implementing a law creating that very reality.  The act of requesting states to follow a judgment contrary to their case renders the Obama administration desperate to say the least.  Perhaps the only avenue left to the President is to follow the voice of the people.  As Cannon and Shapiro emphatically conclude:

“If President Obama shows contempt for court orders that go against him by pretending that ObamaCare still enjoys the full force of law, public antipathy toward the legislation will only grow. The course that shows respect for the Constitution, the courts, and the American people is for the administration to cease implementing the law’s regulations, taxes and new bureaucracies immediately.”

To the people and to the courts, I suspect, the issue is simple.  Is ObamaCare constitutional?  Judge Vinson says no, so for now the Obama administration ought to honor that decision while pursuing their next course of action.

ObamaCare Unconstitutional Due to Lack of Severability Clause

Below is a video discussing the Commerce Clause in the context of ObamaCare and how the government increasingly relies on the former to regulate various industries.  Federal Judge Roger Vinson‘s ruling of ObamaCare as unconstitutional (Florida v. US Dept. of Health and Human Services) rests on the controversial individual mandate. Moreover, Congress’ failure to insert a severability clause renders Judge Vinson’s January 31 decision of monumental importance.  In short, he ruled that an individual mandate is unconstitutional, and without a severability clause the entire bill must follow.  Alex Epstein of The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights points to the politics of ObamaCare as highlighting the government’s inflation of the Commerce Clause to increase regulation and calls for a “more principled opposition to the expansion of government.”

The Future of ObamaCare: Can the Government Use the Commerce Clause to Justify Anything?

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