When President Trump announced that he’d be stopping the federal governments payment of unappropriated money to Obamacare subsidies, the entire left exploded in anger.
On the right, many of us were unsure how to respond. Yes, we were happy that the President was working to undo the evil that is Obamacare, but we weren’t sure that using an Executive Order was the best route.
For years we decried Obama’s unabashed use of executive orders as a workaround to legislative inaction. President Obama took it upon himself to act as the legislature when Congress refused to do what he wanted on any given subject. Now, should we be cheering on President Trump’s use of those same orders to work around our legislature’s inability to repeal Obamacare?
If Trump’s action was unconstitutional, no, we shouldn’t support it. Thankfully, Trump’s order is far different from Obama’s in one very important respect… it’s in full compliance with the law and the Constitution.
Why? Because as a federal judge explained, Trump’s order was simply countermanding Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional money grab.
The Constitution clearly gives the power of the purse to Congress, but Obama treated Obamacare as the supreme law of the land, trumping the Constitution. His administration treated its own interpretation of Obamacare as supreme. So when it agreed to pay insurance companies without congressional leave to do so, the president and his acolytes treated this as inviolable.
Congressional Republicans sued to prevent this. They won their case at the district level, where Judge Rosemary Collyer criticized the Obama administration’s legal arguments as “curious and convoluted.” That lawsuit was then put on hold in December at the request of the congressional plaintiffs, who expected the new Trump administration to handle matters for itself.
This is what is now taking place. While Washingtonians were engrossed Thursday night in a slugfest between their beloved Nationals baseball team and the Chicago Cubs, Trump announced that the executive will stop illegally spending unappropriated money on these subsidies. This is his only option. If he wants the subsidies to be paid, he needs Congress to appropriate money for them. And if he doesn’t, then that’s convenient, because it’s what current law dictates, absent an appropriation. This is what the rule of law looks like.
So, fret not conservatives. You can happily enjoy and cheer on this executive order. It doesn’t make new law at all, it simply returns the federal government to obeying the constitution and forcing Congress to do its job.