Monday, December 27, 2010

'Law' is 'Wall' Said Backwards

The Obama administration is poised to enact some major regulatory changes regarding carbon emissions...

The Environmental Protection Agency announced a timetable Thursday to curtail greenhouse gas emissions from two major sources of the pollution scientists link to global warming: power plants and oil refineries.

The announcement was the latest step in an ambitious effort to begin taking action on climate change, and it is certain to draw fire from congressional Republicans and industry leaders who have promised to halt the agency's efforts.

..and end of life care.

When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

I am sympathetic to the goals of both of these, particularly the latter, which was scrubbed from the health care reform bill thanks to an astounding mix of mendacity and cynicism on the part of Republicans. But while the ends are fine, the means are rough. The optics and ethics of executive action in the face of legislative failure suggest an approach that regards congressional action only as a formality. What good is Congress if it doesn't have any effect on whether or not a measure is implemented?

However, this is to only look at half the equation. Consider how Congress is going to treat the health care bill that did pass:

The second thing that Republicans need to do is to lay the groundwork for defunding any and all efforts to implement Obamacare. Thankfully, the American people delivered the House of Representatives into Republican hands, giving Obamacare opponents the power of the purse.

Americans expect the new Congress, bolstered by new members who made Obamacare repeal the hallmark of their campaigns, to oppose the legislation with every tool at our disposal.

Not only should Republicans in the House zero-out any Obamacare related item in the budget, we should further protect our efforts from Democrats in the Senate by including language in every appropriations bill we pass explicitly barring any money allocated therein from being spent on implementing or enforcing any part of Obamacare.

Health care reform is not the only legislation at which the incoming Republican House is taking aim (h/t Steve Benen):

The massive overhaul of food safety laws approved by Congress this week will take years to implement and could be undercut by Republicans who don't want to fund an expansion of the Food and Drug Administration.

Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, the ranking GOP member on the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the FDA , said the number of cases of food-borne illnesses in the country does not justify the $1.4 billion the new law is estimated to cost over the first five years.

The Republican party believes that Obama's legislation (and sometimes Obama himself) is illegitimate. They are willing to force a shutdown of the government in order to sabotage laws they don't like, in effect saying that the laws don't matter. Those are the facts.

Republicans, then, cannot complain about the President acting like Congressional approval is irrelevant when they are the ones who make it so.

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