We kicked kings, royal decrees and secret courts out of America long ago — or did we?
Now we have a president who decides which laws will be enforced and which citizens will subject to those laws. Now we have secret courts issuing rulings without public notice or argument. Now we have powerful federal agencies going after citizens who object.
In the imperial presidency of Barack Obama, the government takeover of health care was enacted over the objections of a majority of citizens — even before repeated and solemn promises of no new taxes on the middle class were ruled false by the Supreme Court. And it gets worse.
Now the administration has decreed that hundreds of billions of dollars in health care subsidies will be paid out to states that embrace Obamacare — with no questions asked about eligibility. Neither income nor existing insurance coverage will be certified before taxpayer money is paid out. It is an open invitation to commit fraud.
In a similar announcement in the first week of July, big businesses, like 4 million citizens (most in pro-Obamacare unions) are to receive one-year "waivers" by royal decree. There is no legal authority for this decision but that is not stopping him.
Even congressional staffers and their bosses are now lobbying for their own exemptions. Why not? The committee staffers who wrote Obamacare exempted themselves along with congressional leadership, the White House and Cabinet officers.
Gone is the very concept of the "rule of law," which holds that all citizens are equally subject to federal statutes enacted by representatives of the people. Gone is the concept that those who govern are subject to "consent of the governed."
When past presidents tried to seize unconstitutional power we relied on the judicial branch of government to assert the needed checks and balances. But this president is now simply ignoring two federal courts who have ruled illegal his appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
Worse, secret courts are making rulings allowing spying on law-abiding citizens with no possible connection to international terrorism. King George had secret courts that rounded up suspects and condemned them without defense or public notice. It is why our Founding Fathers wrote the Fourth Amendment. And how can the governed give consent to such secret decisions? Until Edward Snowden, they were unknown.
Frustrated with a divided government and a divided people, Barack Obama has made war on those who disagree. Rogue Internal Revenue Service agents hardly explain how one citizen, Catherine Englebrecht (who started a group investigating voter fraud) found herself the subject of multiple Federal Bureau of Investigation visits and surprise audits from a range of federal agencies, including the IRS. It is simply unbelievable that this abuse was not directed by powerful figures within this administration — but the FBI has still not investigated.
His treatment of existing federal laws is equally contemptuous. Obama decreed that 1.5 million illegal immigrants are no longer subject to applicable federal statutes. Unwilling to fight for changes to the No Child Left Behind Act, Obama decided that the law could be ignored. Now, more than half the states have been granted waivers.
Welfare work rules? It was a monumentally successful policy reform embraced by both parties and strong majorities in both the House and Senate, representing widespread public belief that unrestricted welfare payments were actually increasing poverty and dependency. This president has decided that this law, like others, is optional, shifting the entire concept of the rule of law and the will of the people to his discretion. All hail the king.
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This president has shown through his many actions that he believes that consent of the governed is an outmoded idea that can be ignored. Congress can be ignored. The courts can be ignored. The Constitution that he is sworn to uphold and the attorney general is sworn to enforce is optional.
We kicked royalty out of our country long ago but royal decrees are here again. Our great experiment in personal liberty is in danger of being erased from within.
Ken Hoagland is chairman of "Restore America's Voice Foundation."