I'm re-upping Conn's report from yesterday because it deserves amplification. We already knew that President Obama was happy to continue waging war in Libya even after
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed Monday that President Obama is "very interested" in the idea of raising taxes through unilateral executive action. "The president certainly has not indicated any reticence in using his executive authority to try and advance an agenda that benefits middle class Americans," Earnest said in response to a question about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) calling on Obama to raise more than $100 billion in taxes through IRS executive action. "Now I don't want to leave you with the impression that there is some imminent announcement, there is not, at least that I know of," Earnest continued. "But the president has asked his team to examine the array of executive authorities that are available to him to try to make progress on his goals..."
In the new season of Netflix's House of Cards (no spoilers), one of the major plot conflicts revolves around President Underwood's illegal decision to direct federal appropriations for purposes that suit his political interests, but for which Congress did not approve them. What's cute about the fictionalized depiction of this Constitutional power struggle is that Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill angrily push back against Underwood's overreach, uniting in an effort to block his designs. On principle. Back in the real world, Congressional Democrats are writing letters to Obama imploring him to arrogate more power. Since the Republican Congress is opposed to tax increases, they say, Obama must use executive orders to find ways to increase the tax burden on corporations, which would help pay for other initiatives Obama wants. This anti-Constitutional cheerleading isn't just coming from a self-described Socialist outlier from Vermont; a top member of the party's leadership, and the Left's current Senate darling are
The U.S. Treasury Department has rebuffed a request by House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis., to explain $3 billion in payments that were made to health insurers even though Congress never authorized the spending through annual appropriations. At issue are payments to insurers known as cost-sharing subsidies. These payments come about because President Obama’s healthcare law forces insurers to limit out-of-pocket costs for certain low income individuals by capping consumer expenses, such as deductibles and co-payments, in insurance policies. In exchange for capping these charges, insurers are supposed to receive compensation. What’s tricky is that Congress never authorized any money to make such payments to insurers in its annual appropriations, but the Department of Health and Human Services, with the cooperation of the U.S. Treasury, made them anyway.
And before you ask, yes, this is part of Congressional Republicans' Obamacare lawsuit, which Democrats are amusingly decrying as a waste of taxpayer money. I'll leave you with a golden oldie of our Constitutionalist-in-Chief diagnosing America's biggest Bush-era problem: