Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Just Like a Tyrant: Obama's Executive Extortion

Like King Canute, President Barack Obama is ordering the tide of disaffection to cease and roll back into the ocean. He has even closed the ocean. Obama does not subscribe to Francis Bacon's dictum that "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." No, his power-lusting ambition allows him to assert: "Nature and men will obey me because I command it."

The malicious, vindictive character of President Barack Obama's behavior over the refusal of the House to pass a budget that would fund Obamacare (or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) and also raise the debt ceiling is open for all to see. He has ordered all national parks, and even private parks and businesses that do not receive federal funds but which are on federal property or even adjacent to it, closed, with cement or metal barricades, orange cones, and National Park "rangers" stationed to stop people (when they can) from entering any of those venues.

His actions are nothing but petty, extortionate, and venal. "I will have my way, and you will suffer pain until I get my way," is his message. "I don't care if you're WWII vets or Korean War vets or just tourists who have suddenly found their vacation plans literally barricaded, until you press the House to let me have my way, you won’t be enjoying those parks, even though your tax dollars pay for them. Tough. I'm the boss. Deal with it."

Although the federal government's shutdown is the first in seventeen years, Obama's actions are evocative of the Crown's policies over the American colonies 248 years ago, when, against the advice of many members of the House of Commons and even some members of the House of Lords, Parliament passed the Stamp Act. Chief Justice of the King's Bench Lord Mansfield (William Murray) approved of the Stamp Act as within the powers of Parliament and the Crown. The Gentleman's Magazine of March 1765 noted:

"Lord Mansfield, as speaker, and the Earls Gower and Marchmont, by virtue of a commission from his majesty gave the royal assent to the following bills:..." and about nine are listed, one of which reads: "for laying a stamp duty in the British colonies in  America."

Although a brief & somewhat inconspicuous report, it is an exceedingly historic one, as this is the official notice--in a British publication no less--of the King's approval of the Stamp Act. Schlesinger has under the date of March 22, 1765 a lengthy entry which begins: "In passing the Stamp Act, the English Parliament sets its first direct tax on the American colonies. The intent of this act is to raise adequate funds, together with the revenues from the 1764 Sugar Act, to support at least one-third of the total cost to British of maintaining a military organization in the colonies..."

As early as December, 1764, Prime Minister George Grenville, author and advocate of the Stamp Act of March 1765, sought Mansfield's opinion on the legality of the tax. Mansfield replied*:

“…Though the question certainly does not want this, or any other authority, yet it will be a striking alteration to ignorant people, and an unanswerable argument ad homines; and, therefore, I wish you would employ somebody to look with this view into the origin of their power to tax themselves and raise any money at all.”

Now, let's look at the Supreme Court ruling on the legitimacy or legality of Obamacare, and the key statement of Chief Justice John Roberts's majority opinion. The New York Times reported on June 28th, 2012:

“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.” [Italics mine]

You really never expected even a liberal judge to allow those words to escape from his mouth and pen: Who am I to judge? But that is the state of the judiciary today, of the highest court in the land.

About Roberts' opinion, William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection wrote:

Justice Roberts engaged in mental contortions to hold that the individual mandate exceeded Congress’ Commerce Clause power (agreeing with the dissent), but was constitutional under Congress’ taxing authority (joining with the four liberal Justices).  His was the swing vote.  While there were reports he originally intended to vote otherwise, and was swayed by the pressures, those reports never have been verified and probably never will be given the secrecy that attaches to Supreme Court deliberations.

The mandatory requirement to purchase health insurance was the key point of contention about Obamacare, not whether or not it was a sanction to "regulate" interstate or intrastate commerce. Without the elements of compulsion and punishment, the law would have remained toothless and unenforceable. In fact, it would never have been passed, never introduced, never even read – as most politicians who voted for the legislation never read the thousands of pages of it.

People who supported Obamacare are now suffering "sticker shock," once they have gone onto the Obamacare site and saw for themselves the consequences of the law.

The Wall Street Journal noted:  

Health-insurance premiums have been rising—and consumers will experience another series of price shocks later this year when some see their premiums skyrocket thanks to the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

The reason: The congressional Democrats who crafted the legislation ignored virtually every actuarial principle governing rational insurance pricing. Premiums will soon reflect that disregard—indeed, premiums are already reflecting it.

While ObamaCare won't take full effect until 2014, health-insurance premiums in the individual market are already rising, and not just because of routine increases in medical costs. Insurers are adjusting premiums now in anticipation of the guaranteed-issue and community-rating mandates starting next year. There are newly imposed mandates, such as the coverage for children up to age 26, and what qualifies as coverage is much more comprehensive and expensive. Consolidation in the hospital system has been accelerated by ObamaCare and its push for Accountable Care Organizations. This means insurers must negotiate in a less competitive hospital market.

Although President Obama repeatedly claimed that health-insurance premiums for a family would be $2,500 lower by the end of his first term, they are actually about $3,000 higher—a spread of about $5,500 per family.

I have no sympathy for anyone who voted for Obama (twice) with stars in their eyes and minds. These are the people who can live with a welfare state, who want to be taken care of by the government. Well, now they can see that they're being "taken care of," in the way of being taken to the cleaners by an omnivorous government.

In the meantime, in order to force the House – the Democrat-controlled Senate is a washout, our Senate was established to block rights-violating populist legislation from ever reaching the Oval Office – to let Obama have his way, Obama has punished Americans by ordering the closing of federal parks and even of businesses and private homes in or adjacent to federal parks, to block roads that pass through federal lands to private businesses and restaurants.

The Republican-controlled House, however, while defying Obama, defies him for no rational reason. It could make the counter-offer to Obama and the Democrats by saying: "We'll agree to pass the budget and fund Obamacare, but only if every federal employee, including the White House, including Congress, is mandated to buy the insurance, and to offer Americans a year from now the referendum to abolish the law if it is proven that it is an economic and civil rights disaster."  The onus would then be put on Obama and the Democrats and also the blame for the hardships and economic costs of the shutdown.

But, Speaker of the House John Boehner and his allies remain clueless on how to effectively out-maneuver our wannabe dictator. They think this is a "who'll blink first" contest. It isn't. They should be warned: If they fall for an Obama-offered cup of reconciliation, they should beware of the drop or two of arsenic he and the Democrats would slip into it, plus a pinch of strychnine added for good measure. A Republican capitulation would spell the end of the Republican Party.

In fact, the House can kill Obamacare without lifting a finger. As the Examiner reports:
On Monday, Dr. Harold Pease, an expert on the United States Constitution, stated that the authority in dealing with Obamacare funding belongs to the U.S. House, not the U.S. Senate and that the House is doing this all wrong.
Pease said, “Everything hinged upon funding which was given exclusively to the House of Representatives, the only power that they alone had.”
Pease went on to say, “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills. To fund anything, in this case Obamacare, first approval is required by the House of Representatives.”

Are Boehner and his allies aware of this? Possibly. Why aren't they acting on what is so clearly stated in the Constitution?

Americans are not taking the shutdown sitting down. Many are acting, storming the barricades, and simply defying the authorities sent to shut them down or refuse them entry into what Americans have paid for over and over again in taxes.

But, all this is lost on Obama. He is behaving like a tyrant, and his Democratic allies are hoping he wins this political tug-of-war.

Our futures depend on his losing, and losing big. Americans should not submit to his extortionate and wholly unconstitutional actions.

*See Chapter 10: The Purgatory Tavern, in Sparrowhawk: Book Four, Empire.


Tim C said...

Terrific essay, Ed.

Edward Cline said...

Thanks. I was pulling my punches, too. Ed

Edward Cline said...

Halloween's coming up, and I have a wonderful idea for a really, really scary costume: Go as a Park Ranger! Can you imagine the fright you'd put in people when they'd open their doors and see a pair of Park Rangers, hands resting on their sidearms, ready to shut them down or erect a barricade over their lawns and driveways?

mattbarrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mattbarrow said...

You seem to forget that the Republicans only have one seat of power (the House)and not much support from Der Volk.

Hell, they have little support from their Republican constituents (most want it DELAYED, not THROWN OUT).

Edward Cline said...

Mattbarrow: We really don't know the thoughts of most Repubican constituents. I don't follow or credit anyone's national poll. I might also have mentioned that, according to the original intentions of the Founders, they meant Senate to be a bulwark against populist legislation originating in the House, in order to preserve liberties. But it's the Senate of late that is the true nemesis, dominated as it is by the liberal/left. And it's the Senate that wants to put the screws to the country as much as does Obama. Not a pleasant scenario.

Tim C said...

Park Ranger costume, oh man that's a great idea. Take a roll of "POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS" tape along....