GOP Case Against Obama: A Few Charges Short Of An Indictment
Late yesterday afternoon House Speaker John Boehner announced to the White House, and any American with an IQ above room temperature, that his lawsuit decrying the lawless “king-like” presidency of Barack Obama is, indeed, a nothingburger. And that’s a nothinburger “hold the bun, cheese and special sauce, please.”
Boehner opened this particular gambit with the rather unorthodox legal maneuver of announcing that he intended to sue the President for numerous constitutional abuses . . . TBD:
. . . [o]n matters ranging from health care and energy to foreign policy and education, President Obama has repeatedly run an end-around on the American people and their elected legislators, straining the boundaries of the solemn oath he took on Inauguration Day.
That’s clear as mud . . . Imagine your co-worker puts a Post-it on your desk that says “Planning to sue you, just not sure what about yet . . . stay tuned.”
Nevertheless, Mr Boehner floated the idea to his caucus in a memo, leaked it to the press, and defended it in a CNN Op-Ed, all within about 2 weeks time which, these days, is warp speed for anything House-related. He’s under time pressure, you see, because he wants to draft a resolution and vote on it before the end of July recess, because . . . the Constitution can’t wait!
After months of feverish Right-eous rhetoric over the tyrannical lawlessness and over-reach of Obama, and days of media speculation over how sweeping the lawsuit might be, we now have a “Draft” resolution.
And, from the looks of it, Republicans were able to boil down the huge laundry list of Obama’s five years of historically egregious assaults on the Constitution to one slightly ink-stained white button-down shirt with French cuffs worn for the signing of the Affordable Care Act.
Something tells me this isn’t going to sit well with the torches and pitchforks set and judging by Boehner’s uncharacteristic tetchiness this week, I suspect he knows that. His mission, since he chose to accept it, was to satisfy the bloodlust of the Crazy Caucus without committing political hara-kiri—a balancing act which is getting nearly impossible to pull off.
Not to mention that, of all the parade of horribles that Republicans conjured up regarding Obama’s supposed extra-constitutional activities, settling on delaying a mandate, that they themselves voted to delay because they wanted some credit for it, is just embarrassingly lame.
It should be quite interesting to watch Boehner’s counsel try to convince a judge, somewhere, that the House has exhausted all constitutional measures, and all of the powers of the legislative branch and now need the Court’s help to force Obama not to delay the employer mandate for 10,000 businesses who asked for the mandate to be delayed.
Think Progress has some good background on that:
The administration claimed that it was relying on the Treasury Department’s “transition relief” authority, which allows the government to grant relief by section 7805(ca) of the Internal Revenue Code. “The authority has been used to postpone the application of new legislation on a number of prior occasions across Administrations,” Mark J. Mazur, the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, wrote in a letter to Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and pointed to occasions when the Bush administration cited the authority to delay implementation of laws.
Ninety-six percent of large businesses already provide health care coverage and the law’s employer mandate would only affect an estimated 10,000 businesses or one percent of the U.S. workforce. Ninety-six percent of businesses employe fewer than 50 employees and were not impacted by the delay.
So, Speaker Boehner would have us believe that this bureaucratic procedural event, meant to allay the business community’s concerns and smooth out the implementation of sweeping comprehensive health care reform rises to the level of unconstitutional executive action?
Translation: how dare the President ease implementation of this law that we Republicans want so desperately to fail.
As Steve Benen put it:
In reality, delaying implementation of a minor provision of a law and making law unilaterally are not the same thing. Indeed, the Speaker’s office went on to say the White House “literally waived” the law, which simply isn’t true – delaying part of a law isn’t the same as literally waiving it. Those who can’t understand the difference probably shouldn’t pursue a career in legislating.
And then of course, there’s this point:
In an interview before Boehner specified what he was suing over, Yale Law professor Akhil Reed Amar said, “I’m doubtful that merely because you’ve waived or extended some deadline that you’ve done something illegal.” The Constitution calls on the president to make sure that the laws are “faithfully executed,” he pointed out. “Who do you trust to make Obamacare work? Obama, or the guy who’s voted against it 3,000 times who doesn’t want it to work?”
So, a lot of us can agree that this is a really silly idea to help a crippled party, with no real agenda, limp into the midterms and somehow, miraculously, energize their base to expand their majority.
Personally, I think that Boehner is a lot smarter and politically astute than 90% of his caucus . . . and—I know, I know—that ain’t saying much. Nevertheless, I think it’s come down to Boehner, a number of times, to save his suicide-bombers from themselves and keep the dome on the Capitol for a few more days.
Boehner took some heat, this week, as the press speculated as to whether or not Obama’s executive actions on immigration would be included in the GOP lawsuit. After all, including immigration could backfire by energizing Latinos to vote in the midterms and create some unforeseen, if not disastrous, outcomes for Republicans. If this lawsuit were, in truth, just a political stunt, it could never include immigration. The press called Boehner’s bluff, on that, and yesterday he bit —oh, sure, immigration was being considered for inclusion . . . just not seriously.
Today we have our answer and, unfortunately, as Brian Beutler of New Republic assesses:
. . . if Boehner’s not so jealous of Congress’ powers that he’s willing to extend his legal theory everywhere it applies, it’s really just an admission that he values the lawlessness talking point more than the constitutional principle he claims is at stake. The problem is that by confronting Obama on such narrow grounds, he’s completely undermined the talking point.
So it is that Mr Speaker Boehner, bane of frivolous lawsuits and activist judges, will seek his colleagues’ consent to pack up his frivolous lawsuit and shop it around to activist judges interested in making history, not necessarily in a good way, in a case that probably wouldn’t be heard until after it no longer matters.
Please proceed, Mr Speaker . . .