Checks and balances live. Sometimes.
It seemed an astoundly obvious case. The power of the purse belongs to Congress, and the executive branch can’t just spend money if Congress never passed a bill allocating the money. But ths is the presidency of Barack Obama, where things like the Constitution and balances of power are mere puzzles to be solved by a power-crazed executive. Remember, this is the guy who regularly declares, “If Congress won’t act, I will!”
No, champ. If Congress won’t act, you can’t. That’s how the system is supposed to work. But Obama was determined to spend federal money reimbursing health insurers for their ObamaCare losses. As with so many other things ObamaCare, if the White House has to respect the discretion of Congress, the whole damn thing falls to pieces. So Congress or no Congress, law or no law, they have to spend the money. To do otherwise would to see their golden goose slain.
Obama’s justification for this was that, since Congress once passed a law authorizing the reimbursements, the White House could infer the authority to spend money on it, even if there was no money specifically allocated for it. Think about the implications of that argument. If ever, at any point in the history of the nation, Congress passed a law authorizing something, then the White House could infer forever the authority to spend money on it, current budgets be damned.
That’s simply insane, and wonder of wonders, a federal judge yesterday agreed:
An appeal is certain, but should U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer’s ruling be upheld, it could spark the economic “death spiral” Republicans have predicted and Democrats feared would doom the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
But the ruling has implications far beyond Obamacare, signaling that federal courts may begin to play a more active role in reeling in executive powers that many legal experts say have grown far beyond what the country’s founders intended.
Judge Collyer, presiding in Washington, said the administration violated the Constitution when it made “cost-sharing” payments to Obamacare insurers, over the objections of Congress, which had zeroed out the funding.
“Authorization and appropriation by Congress are nonnegotiable prerequisites to government spending,” she wrote.
You’d think this would be Civics 101 for any judge in a potential appeal, but would you really assume that with the liberal activists that Obama and Harry Reid have packed the federal courts with over the past seven years? This could very well end up at the Supreme Court, and if a 5-4 SCOTUS majority decides that the president can “infer” spending authority regardless of congressional authorization, then Congress no longer has the power of the purse and there is no real check on the president to do much of anything.
That’s something to think about for you #NeverTrumpers. I will grant you that no one can say for sure what kind of Justice we might get from a President Trump to replace Antonin Scalia. But if it’s Hillary who gets to make this appointment (or if Merrick Garland is confirmed in the aftermath of a Hillary victory), then we know for sure that the liberal SCOTUS majority will destroy this bedrock cornerstone of the federal separation of powers.
Does Trump bother you so much that you’re OK with that?