In my latest Washington Examiner column I argued that Barack Obama’s delay of the Obamacare employer mandate and refusal to verify eligibility for Obamacare subsidies amounted to a failure to obey the Constitution’s command that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” There are good historical reasons, rooted in England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688-89, to believe that the Framers of the Constitution intended those words to be a duty, not a suggestion.
I also suggested that Obama’s actions depleted his political capital and added, “It erodes the president’s political capital. House Republicans may block an immigration bill because they fear Obama would not enforce its border security provisions.”
Now, after meeting with their Conference Wednesday, the House Republican leadership issued the following statement.
“Today House Republicans affirmed that rather than take up the flawed legislation rushed through the Senate, House committees will continue their work on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system. The American people want our border secured, our laws enforced, and the problems in our immigration system fixed to strengthen our economy. But they don’t trust a Democratic-controlled Washington, and they’re alarmed by the president’s ongoing insistence on enacting a single, massive, Obamacare-like bill rather than pursuing a step-by-step, common-sense approach to actually fix the problem. The president has also demonstrated he is willing to unilaterally delay or ignore significant portions of laws he himself has signed, raising concerns among Americans that this administration cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate.”
By my account, 66 words in that statement are about immigration and 83 words are about the failure to faithfully execute the Obamacare statute. Your word count might differ slightly, but the purport is clear: Obama’s actions on Obamacare undercut any pressure House Republicans may have felt to take up the bipartisan Senate bill. I believe conservatives are unduly concerned about border security; I believe that conditions in Mexico and the fact that net migration from Mexico has been zero since 2007 make it highly unlikely we will ever again see anything like the huge wave of immigration from Mexico that we saw from 1982 to 2007. But I understand that most conservatives are far from convinced of that and believe that the past is the best predictor of the future. In any case, I’m sure Speaker John Boehner and the other House Republican leaders heard a lot of members say that they would never trust the Obama administration (or the Hillary Clinton administration that could follow) to enforce the border security provisions of the Senate bill after what Obama has done on Obamacare.
Failure to take care that the laws be faithfully executed may not be reviewable by the courts, but it carries significant political costs.