Friday, 22 June 2012 07:33

Obamacare, Fast and Furious, and Immigration: political games continue

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washington-affairThese past few weeks have been busy for President Obama.  Between jet setting across the country to attend fundraisers with Hollywood’s wealthiest and most elite to bypassing the Constitution and making new law on immigration, Barack Obama has been one busy man.  Here are some of the highlights.

Obama Care.  The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of Obama Care later this month.  The consensus is that the mandates contained in the law will be struck down as a violation of the U. S. Constitution.  A healthy number of legal scholars and court observers believe that the entire law will be held unconstitutional.  Regardless of how it rules the consequences of the court’s decision are huge.


A common sense reading of the Constitution clearly implies that Congress went too far in passing Obama Care.  The Constitution created a federal government with “limited” powers and those powers not specifically given to the federal government are reserved to the states.  Mandating the purchase of health insurance by the federal government is not within its power.  Both sides of the debate will react to the ruling.  The question is how will they react?

Based on past performance the Obama administration will likely react by attacking the Supreme Court.  This is the wrong approach.  If the court rules against Obama Care a real leader would say he will meet with all sides and work through the decision to pass legislation that will pass Constitutional muster.  Obama may surprise all of us and offer to do just that but this is not his style.  He most likely will attack the court and Congressional Republicans even though the lawsuits that were brought contesting the law were brought by the states not by members of Congress.

Republicans have the difficult task of taking a leadership role.  Or at least this is what they should do.  Republicans should go through the legislation, if it is thrown out, and pull out the good parts, such as doing away with limits on pre-existing conditions, and find ways to make the good parts work.  Democrats should join with Republicans and lead, not try for political advantage.  But that won’t likely happen.  More politics over governing.

Fast and Furious.  This week on the heels of Attorney General Eric Holder’s contempt charge against Congress, President Obama invoked executive privilege preventing Congress from seeing the documents it had subpoenaed regarding the Fast and Furious operation.  By invoking the privilege, President Obama makes it look like he has something to hide.  Then Senator Obama blasted President Bush when he invoked the privilege, but now it is okay because he, Obama, is invoking the privilege, not President Bush. 

Neither the Justice Department nor the president want to release the subpoenaed documents because Fast and Furious was a disaster from the start.  The documents will likely show incompetence as its worst.  And worst of all it may show that very high up personnel in the White House knew all about it, and this would be at a minimum very embarrassing for the President and possibly political Armageddon if the President was directly involved in the decision making process of Fast and Furious.

But in case you are wondering this is really all about politics.  If the shoe was on the other foot the Democrats would be shouting from the roof tops for Republicans to release the documents, and Republicans would be defending a Republican President for not releasing the documents.  This is just another indication of what is wrong in Washington.  More politics over governing.

Immigration.  President Obama created new law by announcing that certain illegal immigrants would not be deported but instead would be given legal status to remain in the country.  Is the President embarking on new policy where the executive branch of government will only enforce those laws it likes?  And will this precedent allow the President to create new laws he likes better?  I hope not because this is not what our constitution says.  Congress passes the laws.  The president can sign them into law and enforce the law or he can veto the legislation.  But in no event can he create the law no matter how laudable his goal may be.  Dictators make the laws; U.S. Presidents enforce the laws passed by Congress.

This is the 21st Century, and updating our immigration laws makes sense.  If Congress and the President would quit playing politics with the issue of immigration reform, meaningful changes could be made.  More politics over governing.

Unfortunately, politics will most likely continue to rule the day in Washington.  It is worse today than ever before.  Barack Obama was ill prepared to become President of the United States.  Neither was Hillary Clinton.  But the election in 2008 was not about qualifications.  It was about George Bush.  And Barack Obama was more unlike George Bush than either Hillary Clinton or John McCain.  The American people will have the task in November of deciding whether four years on the job is sufficient for President Obama to continue or is it time to give someone else a chance.  If the economy continues to tank and the major banks continue to slide, the American people may want to make a change.  But will change at the top be enough to get things done to keep America the world leader she has always been.  Or will it be more of the same.  More politics over governing.

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Lawrence Chehardy

For thirty-four years Lawrence Chehardy served as Assessor of Jefferson Parish. He has been the leading authority on Louisiana’s property tax laws. In addition to his political commentary and public speaking engagements, Lawrence Chehardy is a founding member of the Chehardy, Sherman, Ellis, Murray, Recile, Griffith, Stakelum & Hayes Law Firm and serves as its managing partner.

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