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November 18, 2011
Obama administration rewriting the law - again
The Obama administration is attempting to use IRS rule-making to sidestep Congress and rework a portion of the ObamaCare law.
In a Wall Street Journal piece, Jonathan H. Adler and Michael F. Canon describe a "major glitch that threatens" the "basic functioning of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (PPACA).
The column relates that the ObamaCare act provides for "premium assistance," aka taxpayer subsidies, to soften the blow for the coming premium increases for individuals under the new law. However, the law as written allows premium assistance only within the state-run exchanges.
And according to the Journal column, "so far, only 17 states have passed legislation to create an exchange."
While the law allows the federal government to create exchanges for the recalcitrant states, the big problem for the administration is that the law as written does not provide for premium assistance under the federal exchanges.
And therein lies the rub.
In response, the administration has turned to an IRS rule proposal to magically remake the law, with a public hearing scheduled by the IRS for November 17.
The Journal column quotes a Treasury spokeswoman saying the administration is "confident" that this IRS foray into legislating "is consistent with the intent of the law and our ability to interpret and implement it." The column, however, disputes the Treasury contention, noting that "the text of the law is perfectly clear."
One might add that the Founders would also dispute such arbitrary revisions to the law.
The first sentence of the Constitution. following the preamble, is Article I, Section 1: "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States."
Not some legislative powers, or most, or all but those claimed by a future President intent on remaking American society, but all legislative powers.
Whether Congress intended to apply premium assistance only to state-run exchanges, or Congress dropped the ball in their haste to pass the bill, and what difference it makes, is a subject of some contention, as described in the Journal article.
Adler and Cannon go on to point out that, should the IRS proposal become law, such as it is, relief might come through a court challenge by an employer paying "penalties when their employees receive premium assistance," or through a majority vote under the Congressional Review Act, for signature by this or a future President.
What is puzzling, or maybe not so, is the fact that the Adler-Cannon article, and the end-run around Congress it describes, was highlighted by a few of the more conservative publications, such as Fox News and The Weekly Standard, but apparently not at all by the mainstream media. After all, what is one more instance of the regime rewriting its own laws?
Creating a Rube Goldberg system to control the health care conditions and decisions of 300 million people was always an exercise in futility at best, but the Obama administration will apparently go to any length to defend its crowning achievement.
If the Supreme Court eviscerates the PPACA, or if the Republicans sweep the Presidency and the Congress in 2012, all of this may become moot.
If we are not so fortunate, the convolutions and complications of ObamaCare will unravel for years to come, as we "find out what is in it."
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