The Supreme Court just announced its decision in King v. Burwell. By holding for the Obama administration, the high judges took a sledgehammer to one of the pillars of U.S. government: Separation of powers, and paved the way for the president to be tyrant.
The word "tyrant" appears four times in our Declaration of Independence. Tyranny was what we escaped in 1776. It seems to be returning in 2015.
[sharequote align="center"]Tyranny was what we escaped in 1776. It seems to be returning in 2015.[/sharequote]
Lawyers defending Burwell (as in Sylvia Burwell, the current secretary of Health and Human Services) tried to obfuscate the issues and parse the words. Even plaintiffs’ lawyers tried to play the same game. However, the contention is straightforward and as should have been the decision.
A law passed by Congress, Obamacare says that only health insurance exchanges “established by a state” can provide tax subsidies for health insurance, not an exchange created by the federal government.
The Obama administration wanted to provide subsidies to all. As 34 states did not set up their own independent exchanges, the White House instructed the IRS to issue a ruling saying that the federal website, healthcare.gov, could do what the law said it could not do: Distribute subsidies.
In Constitutional terms, the Executive branch of government over-ruled the Legislative branch. That is why King brought suit. They lost, and so did all Americans.
In 1776, we formally rejected concentrated power: Aristocracy with its king; empire with a caesar or sultan; Communist Party’s General Secretary; and tyrants in whatever guise. The Founding Fathers’ method to avoid a return of tyranny was the separation of powers embodied in our Constitution.
By holding for Burwell and the president, the Supreme Court said the Executive and Legislative branches of government were no longer co-equal, that the powers were no longer separated, and that power could be concentrated in the president’s hands.
A recent poll from Kaiser Research Foundation shows that 59 percent of Americans have been paying little-to-no attention to the King v. Burwell case. It frightens me that a majority of my countrymen and women don’t seem to care that President Obama just changed his name to King Obama. His word is now law, superseding Congress.
You will notice that I spend no time here talking about the effects of the Court’s decision for Burwell on either health care or our economic doldrums. The decision does have important effects in these areas on all Americans, and it isn’t happy news. However, the individual consequences pale to insignificance when you look at the impact on our once-great nation.
Dr. Deane Waldman MD MBA is author of “The Cancer in the American Healthcare System;” Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Pathology and Decision Science; and Adjunct Scholar (Healthcare) for the Rio Grande Foundation, a public policy think tank. Dr. Deane also sits on the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange, as Consumer Advocate. Opinions expressed here are solely his and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Board.
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