But President Obama can dispense with laws as he wishes?
The refusal of the Democrat-controlled Senate to accept the Republican-controlled House’s appropriations bill has forced a general shutdown of the United States government. The Senate could have kept the government open by agreeing to the House’s bill, which funded the government without allocating any funds for implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
President Obama has tried to blame the entire shutdown on the House Republicans, saying that they should forget their principles, stop speaking their minds, and just vote for money for his government. On Monday, the president said:
“You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there is a law there that you don’t like.”
But the House Republicans are not extracting a ransom: The Framers of the Constitution gave the House, specifically, the power of the purse, because it is the part of government most directly connected to the people, with smaller constituencies and elections every two years. The House has a mandate of its own, and, as duly elected representatives of the people in a free society, members of the lower chamber have every right to turn against a law they don’t like either by withholding funding or voting against the law. Just because something becomes the law of the land does not mean it cannot be changed.
It’s funny for President Obama to say that the House can’t do anything about a law it doesn’t like. He routinely dispenses with laws he doesn’t like, even though he lacks the legal authority to change laws on his own. President Obama has even illegally dispensed with parts of his own healthcare law. One of those extralegal actions has led us to this moment: He delayed the mandate that employers provide insurance for their workers until 2014, without delaying the mandate that individuals must have health insurance. This is unfair on two levels. One, it violates his own duly passed law, without the approval of Congress. Two, it forces average Americans to get health insurance a whole year before their employers must provide it for them, meaning they’re on their own. They might even be forced to run to the government for help–becoming more dependent. If they don’t, they’ll end up paying steep fines.
Does President Obama, constitutional law professor, exhibit an understanding of the Constitution when he says that Congress’s job is simply to vote to fund the government, even if that means violating their principles and consciences?