Barack Obama’s presidency will come to an end. The legacy of pain he will leave behind will not — at least for years to come. He and his fellow Democrats plan to keep their grip on the levers of power-even if they lose control of Congress and the White House. And they will do so with “invisible hands” gone but not forgotten.
Every first-term president has a single compelling desire: to win a second term. But for Obama and his liberal allies to accomplish a second major goal, to “fundamentally transform America,” requires more than two terms. Their agenda depends on fundamentally transforming ourgovernment and how its vast powers will be deployed.
How was this done?
The trillion-dollar so called “stimulus” bill was the first major step to vastly increase our spending and deficits. It was a sign of things to come. Budget-breaking binges have followed with no serious efforts to control our massive federal debt. The Democrats have run up more red ink than all previous administrations combined.
The entitlement crisis has been a crisis that has not been allowed to go to waste. Under Obama’s feeble economy and sputtering “recovery” (the weakest in modern history), spending on welfare, food stamps, and disability payments have soared. Hooking people onto the government IV line is an excellent way to increase dependency and the number of future dependable Democrats. It is also an excellent way to bankrupt America.
The sequester was a mere Band-Aid that has recently been ripped off.
The wound remains unhealed as interest payments on the debt will come to dwarf spending on other priorities. As interest rates rise from the abnormally low current levels, the problem will worsen. This will limit the ability of future presidents and Congresses to change spending priorities. For example, interest payments are on track to exceed defense spending. Will a future president be able to ramp up defense spending in the face of a massive constituency addicted to entitlements? Already our defense budget is being slashed (the Army drops to a pre-World War Two level; The Navy is shrinking to fit a bathtub — or thereabouts) while our adversaries are boosting their militaries, the Russian bear emerges from hibernation and runs rampant, and Iran is on the path to get the Bomb. Such are the fruits of flexibility. At least Obama kept one promise — too bad it was to Putin.
Since Obama and many of his fellow Democrats (now that Blue Dog Democrats have gone the way of the Dodo bird) consider defense spending as some sort of pagan ritual or so “19th Century” as Secretary of State John Kerry might phrase it, they can then consider their mission accomplished: the permanent weakening of America.
Obama and Congressional Democrats have handcuffed all future presidents and endangered Americans yet to be born.
They can move onto what they consider the most dire threat in the world — climate change — and commence ladling out taxpayer money to their cronies behind green schemes.
Another step to control the future of America was the passing of the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) through means fair and foul (mostly foul), as Shakespeare might characterize the mix of bribes, earmarks and legislative tricks employed to impose this misbegotten mess on America. While Obama brandishes executive power, waivers and enforcement discretion to keep the ACA on life support until after the mid-terms (and maybe beyond, who knows with this Rube Goldberg contraption?) the insurance and medical industries are being damaged — perhaps beyond repair — the intention all along.
One-sixth of the economy has been victimized by the wizards of Washington, and America will never be the same. Opponents should not be too sanguine about ObamaCare’s repeal. As websites are fixed, as more and more people latch onto subsidies, as Obama uses taxpayer money to bail our insurance companies, and people with preexisting conditions gain coverage, a larger constituency to keep the ACA in operation is developing. The result: worse medical care and higher premiums for many Americans. Medicare is being gutted to expand Medicaid, fewer medical advances as the economics dissuade companies from pursuing them courtesy of the medical device tax, and fewer doctors as the current ones leave the profession and potential ones decide government-run healthcare creates a hostile workplace environment.
But it gets worse.
The ACA relies on the Independent Payment Advisory Board (“IPAB”)to take medical decision-making away from doctors and patients to curb Medicare spending. The Democrats endowed this 15-member board with vast powers and, unusually, shielded it from control by future Congresses and presidents. AsKristin Leighty writes for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website:
The IPAB will have authority to make direct modifications to the Medicare program unless Congress overrides its proposed changes. In addition, a super majority would be required in the Senate to overturn the IPAB’s recommendations.
Although the IPAB’s proposals are technically presented to Congress, the Board retains extensive control. PPACA “fast-tracks” the recommendations, forcing Congress to consider them quickly and to match any proposed cuts with equivalent reductions elsewhere in the federal budget. (snip)
If the panel cannot come to a decision on spending, its power is automatically transferred to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who is still required to make the cuts necessary to meet the mandated spending targets. The Secretary’s proposal must then be implemented unless Congress takes action under the expedited procedure set forth in the law. Therefore, prior proposals to simply defund IPAB will not prevent reductions from occurring.
In an article featured in Politico Pro last month, Rep. Roe echoed his belief that “the House should not give up its constitutional authority to control these things” while also noting that the public has no avenue to dispute IPAB decisions.
It will be very challenging for a super-majority (67 Senators) to be reached in the Senate to override any decisions this panel makes. Furthermore, the ability to “fast track” their decisions means Congress will have a very limited time period to overrule the IPAB’s decisions. As Congressman Poe notes, the public will have no role (of course). The party of the people would not deign to take their views into account.
These “death panels” will be very hard to kill.
As our great modern sage, Ronald Reagan, declared, “a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” And this is exactly what Obama and the Democrats in Congress planned all along. They will exert their power long after they have left office.
Optimists think that the same tools Obama used to force the ACA onto America can be used to de facto repeal many of its measures (see Brian Callanan’s “A Legal Poison Pill for ObamaCare”) as well as other executive actions he has taken, such as hikes in minimum wage and new overtime pay rules.
Perhaps…but it would be far truer to conservative principles to repeal the law, and that would clearly require a sweep of both houses of Congress and the presidency. Also, as Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote (“How Hard Will We Be On A Future Post-Obama President”), a Republican president using the same tools to kill the ACA that Obama used to keep it alive, if not thriving, will be excoriated. And, as previously noted, there may be a large enough constituency in favor of the ACA and other executive actions — and enough major changes made in our institutions — to make repealing it very challenging. Will any President be strong enough to take increased pay away from voters?
It is a frightening prospect but America may be stuck with this “reform” for many years to come.
The Democrats planned it to be this way and they may well succeed.
Harry Reid and the Death of the Filibuster
Democrats who are unconcerned with an Iranian nuclear weapon also were blissful when Senate Majority Leader trigged his own “nuclear option” abolishing the filibuster in most appointments. As Paul Kane wrote in the Washington Post:
Democrats used a rare parliamentary move to change the rules so that federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been the standard for nearly four decades.
Of course, when a Republican was president Harry Reid, Barack Obama and many other Democrats who applauded Reid’s maneuver spoke reverentially about how important the filibuster was for democracy.
That was then and this is now. All history began anew when Obama ascended to the Oval Office. Besides, hypocrisy among Democratic politicians is almost a job requirement (book recommendation: Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy).
To further control America’s future, the Democrats need to control the third branch of government: the judiciary. Checks and balances to them may vaguely refer to that pleather thing stuck in a drawer somewhere, not principles enshrined in our Constitution that brave people have died defending.
Now Obama will have his radical appointees to important posts in government easily confirmed (history shows most Democrat Senators are invertebrate when it comes to obeying Obama). A future Republican president — if we will ever see one again — will have quite the Augean Stables to clean upon assuming office.
However, the real import of this action by Reid, is to allow Federal judges of Obama’s own choosing to be confirmed. The first goal was to take over the key U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — the court that reviews many cases related to federal law and regulations. But it won’t end there.
Decisions handed down have very long lifespans as the principle of stare decisisand the power of precedent limit the chance to overturn them. This is particularly true if other federal courts become stacked with Obama nominees. And they will be.
These are lifetime appointments and they will be responsible for interpreting the law and respecting the Constitution. Anyone think the federal courts won’t be stuck for years with lawyers in Obama’s image?
As lawyers are wont to say, “res ipsa loquitur” (the “thing speaks for itself”).
Liberals are already pushing the idea that older liberal Supreme Court Justices should retire (“ageism” is fine as long as liberals do it) so Obama and Reid can replace them with younger and presumably even more liberal ones,and thus keep the Obama era alive for decades to come.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was one of the craftiest if not most subversive action Democrats took when they controlled Congress. The CFPB is responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector. That sounds benign but the agency is running wild, using — in a widely criticized way — vague disparate impact “analysis” to coerce businesses to extend credit to less than creditworthy customers, auto dealers to sell cars to people who may not be able to afford the payments on them, and the like.
Can this agency be reined in? No — or certainly not easily.
Usually Congress can use the power of the purse when an agency has “gone rogue.” However, in an unprecedented way, the funding for the CFPB comes not from Congress but from the Federal Reserve, and its amount is determined by a fixed formula. The Federal Reserve cannot turn down requests from the CFPB for funds — it’s “guaranteed.” Similar to the IPAB, CFPB is designed to withstand future Republican Congresses and Presidents.
America can expect to bear the brunt of this guaranteed freedom from oversight for years to come. The two main politicians who crafted this legislation (Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank) have retired; they, along with Obama, Reid, and Nancy Pelosi will serenely watch their handiwork wreak havoc for years to come — political Typhoid Marys.
There are myriad ways the Democrats have abused their power that will impact all of us in the decades ahead. The above examples are hardly exhaustive. One could add the ruining of alliances, the betrayals of friends, the possible closing of Guantanamo Bay by executive order (the prison there, because of the unique legal status of the land it sits on, offers singular advantages for America); the move to ask the Senate to approve military strikes in Syria — a precedent that may hamstring future presidents who actually take their Commander-in-Chief duties seriously; dramatic actions to legalize millions of illegal immigrants with the ultimate goal of granting them citizenship and voting rights (thereby making a permanent Democratic majority a serious possibility-demographics is destiny); the bankruptcy of the coal industry; and the expected explosion of federal land being forever placed off limits for energy exploration and development via the largest federal land grab in history as Obama ”cements” his legacy.
One could expect the political equivalent of a fireworks show to commence after the midterm elections when Obama can indulge his wish to “go Bulworth” in his second term with a cavalcade of executive orders, waivers, delays, enforcement discretion, regulations — call it Obamageddon.
When Obama leaves the Oval Office and is free to enjoy many years of fame and fortune, he will have taken many steps that will harm Americans long afterwards. These actions will fulfill his boast that he would “fundamentally transform America” — probably the only promise he will have not broken.
The worst is yet to come.
[H/T American Thinker]