In January, I wrote a column called "The United Whims of America," which argued that the trend of politicians ignoring laws with which they disagree was a dangerous development. The central point, more true every day, is we are no longer a nation of laws, but a nation of whims – a people whose laws are in a constant state of flux depending upon who holds various offices. The consequences of this shift from laws to whims, if not reined in, will fundamentally transform the country in ways we cannot predict or allow.
The problem of Congress passing and presidents signing vague laws that leave much to interpretation from courts and bureaucrats is nothing new. The Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law in 1990, has been used relentlessly to file frivolous lawsuits and extort untold millions from American businesses. But the ADA was written imprecisely, deliberately leaving the fleshing out of the intentions of Congress and the law to others. As bad as that is, we’ve entered a time when the clear wording of laws is subject to change not through the legislative process or the courts, but by temporary politicians’ personal thoughts or feelings on a given issue.
When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, it contained unambiguous language on start dates and requirements of businesses, among other issues. The dates for the individual and business mandates were every bit the “law of the land,” as the president liked to say, as the individual mandate itself was.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Utopia…
Once Obamacare became a political liability and a policy disaster, rather than change it legally through Congress, the president simply removed his magic pen from his desk and declared that what had been now wasn’t. Legal dates were changed, mandates punted, fees waived. None of this was allowed under the law, but it all went unchallenged by the media and, with the exception of a few grumbles, Republicans too.