By Kevin Wilson
Special to The Globe
NEOSHO, Mo. —
I hope you will bear with me and suffer through one more column on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known (either affectionately or disdainfully) as Obamacare.
I don’t think it’s a secret that I have been — and will continue to be — a vocal critic of this piece of legislation, so my take on the most recent developments may come as a surprise to many.
The PPACA is a law that we must abide by. It was legally passed by Congress (so we could know what was in it — thank you, Mrs. Speaker), and it was upheld by the highest court of the land. So regardless of what any of us may think about its merit, it is the law, and we should abide and obey it as our Constitution demands.
Oh, and by the way, that means all of it — not just the parts that we may agree with. Or at least that’s the way that it is supposed to work. You see, when a legislative body passes a law and the court upholds it, then it is the constitutional responsibility of the executive branch to enforce that law in its entirety.
President Obama holds out health care reform as the shining star of his presidency and is still on the campaign trail trying to convince the majority of the American public that it will be good for the country.
But like the old saying goes: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Mr. President, you got what you wanted, so now you have to live with it — all of it.
That means that you can’t just change part of the law because it’s too oppressive, too overwhelming for government to administer or maybe too politically divisive right before the midterm elections. Nope. That’s not how things work in this country. If a law says you “shall” or you “must,” then that’s pretty clear.
Now, if you think the law needs to be changed, that means you have to go through the process and going back through Congress. But that would take too long and might get a little messy, so, in the case of certain aspects of the health care law, the executive branch just decided to change the law on its own without going through that pesky little detail of following the Constitution.
I know people opposed to my view are going to cite executive privilege as an excuse for the president’s actions, but I don’t buy that argument. This is not a wartime situation and it’s not a national emergency, so I’m not sure where the president is getting his constitutional justification for delaying the employer mandate that is called for by this law.
I don’t disagree that the delay will help businesses and is probably the prudent course of action, but that’s not the point. The point is that no one has the authority to ignore a law duly passed and approved by Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court — not even the president of the United States.
Back when I was a younger man (much younger), I was a proud member of the Jaycees. I learned a lot from that organization and credit my involvement with it as a major force in my personal and professional development. The Jaycees have a creed that governs its members. I won’t quote all of it, but there is one line that says that “government should be of laws rather than of men.”
That means that no one is above the law and that we are all bound by our Constitution to uphold the laws of the land. I know that I had to swear an oath to that effect when I took the office of state representative, and I know all of our congressmen and the president did likewise. If we don’t follow this creed, then our great republic will go the way of other once great nations that followed men rather than laws.
Mr. President, you once said that elections had consequences and that you had won. You were right in that analysis. And now that you have won, you have a responsibility to live with those consequences — all of them. Please don’t ignore the law, no matter how much you may dislike it, but rather enforce all of it. Anything else would be unconscionable and unconstitutional.
Kevin Wilson lives in Neosho.