National Review editor probes dangers linked to executive overreach

Rich Lowry of National Review explains for Politico readers why President Obama’s recent actions bode ill for the American constitutional system.

Congress long ago ceded too much authority to the regulatory apparatus of the administrative state, but this is different. This isn’t the executive branch writing rules to fill in the details of vague legislation—say, the 1,000-page Volcker Rule arrived at years after the passage of the Dodd-Frank banking “reforms.” This is the executive branch affirmatively re-writing law.

Obama is legislating without the legislative branch. This is corrosive of self-government, counter to our constitutional system and contemptuous of the rule of law.

Obamacare is quite clear that the employer mandate “shall apply” after Dec. 31, 2013. Nonetheless, the Obama administration delayed it for a year last July. If there were an obnoxious, Keith Olbermann-style daily accounting of Obamacare, this would be “Day 44 Since the Employer Mandate Was Supposed to Go into Effect According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

The first delay was bad enough, but the latest move is more brazen. It creates a distinction between employers with fewer and more than 100 employees that doesn’t exist in the law, and delays the mandate for another year for businesses with 50-99 employees. At the same time, it changes the obligation on employers with more than 100 employees.

These aren’t waivers or delays, but detailed revisions at variance with the law as passed by a duly elected Congress of the United States. Last year, the Treasury Department justified the delay as “transition relief,” a euphemism right up there with “shared responsibility payments,” the administration’s favored term for fines on employers.

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