A common argument from corporate funded pundits is that Obama has no respect for the constitution. Indeed, the stunning example of honest and truthful journalism that is the Daily Caller even went so far as to put up a list detailing his top ten constitutional violations. Except they have just about nothing to do with the real Constitution.
1. The Individual Mandate
SCOTUS has already ruled that the individual mandate is not unconstitutional — much in the same way that care insurance requirements in most states are also not unconstitutional. This argument is pointless. The constitution makes no reference whatsoever on the illegality of mandating commercial purchases. If it did, we would not be required to buy car insurance. The argument made by the right here is that the founding fathers thought it too obvious to put in. Well, someone needs to tell George Washington that. He, along with this nation’s first congress actually imposed a health care mandate requiring ship owners to provide medical insurance for their seamen. Yeah, pretty sure if George Washington did it, it was constitutional.
2. Medicaid Coercion
The argument here is that giving states the full amount it would cost to care for the newly eligible Medicaid recipients, if they expand their program is coercive and unconstitutional. So, apparently hiring someone to do a job, paying them to do that job, then expecting them to actually do the job is coercive and unconstitutional — so kiss capitalism goodbye. It is not coercive for the government to give states money to provide a service the government is paying for. Again, nothing to do with the US Constitution here.
3. Independent Payment Advisory Board (The Death Panels ooOOOOooOOOO)
This argument is based on misinformation. The Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB is an agency consisting of appointed members who make recommendations regarding Medicare. The goal is to save money without affecting coverage or eligibility. The agency can put forward proposals that come into effect the following year – - a proposal put forth in 2014 does not take effect until 2015. They do not have dictator-esque power, and can be overridden with a fast track procedure included in the law itself. The IPAB was created to end lobbyist power over government decisions on health care. They are not allowed to make decisions that render people ineligible, nor are they allowed to limit coverage. They are also absolutely not under any circumstances allowed to make decisions on individual cases. That is still up to the patient or the patient’s health care proxy/power of attorney. Again, absolutely nothing to do with the Constitution.
4. The Chrysler bailout
In 2009 the government bailed out car manufacturers. Chrysler terminated contracts with franchises violating the Fifth Amendment’s “takings” clause, which deals with things like eminent domain and the need for just compensation when the government seizes property. Note the word government. Last I checked, Chrysler does not make up our government. Chrysler was well within their rights according to the franchise agreements to cancel their contracts. Nothing was seized. Eminent domain does not apply. The government has nothing to do with this.
The argument made here is that the Dodd-Frank Act empowers a new agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB that has no checks and balances. Except it does. Prior to the act, there was no real federal accountability for consumer financial protection. While there were seven different agencies that had some responsibility toward consumer protection, it was not a priority for any of them. A massive failure on the parts of these agencies resulted in the predatory lending practices that brought on the recession. The Obama government passed the Dodd-Frank Act, making consumer protection the responsibility of the newly created CFPB. Should the CFPB fail to protect consumer finances, or overstep its boundaries, it is held accountable to The President, Congress, the Judiciary, and the American people. Seeing as consumer protection is its sole priority, it cannot shift the blame for any failures onto other agencies. The agency is protected from big bankers and lobbyists and cannot be compromised by pressure from the financial services industry, preventing yet another repeat of what happened before the economic crisis.
The CAFB is subject to far more oversight and constraints on its activities than any other banking regulator, illustrated in the chart below:
6. The Deep Water Drilling Ban
Not exactly unconstitutional. Nowhere in the constitution does it say that the president has to bow down to corporations, even if they are people.. The ban was instated temporarily so they could review the Deepwater Horizon spill and decide how to implement better safety regulations and prevent further spills. Contrary to popular belief, the constitution doesn’t give big businesses and Republicans the right to do as they please.
7. Political Speech Disclosure for Federal Contractors
The argument is that Obama was trying to limit free speech — except he wasn’t. The goal of the bill, called the DISCLOSE (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) Act covers campaign finances and requires groups running political ads to disclose their top donors. That’s it. It isn’t a limitation of free speech. If businesses are afraid of divulging that they support a certain political group, that isn’t a limitation on free speech at all.
One of the considered bill’s provisions was requiring anyone applying for a federal contract to disclose any political contributions over $5000 for the preceding two years. Again, it doesn’t limit free speech. The provision doesn’t tell a potential contractor they are not allowed to donate funds, just requires them to disclose. Since federal contractors receive federal funds in payment for their services, this allows more transparency — since campaign contributions become a matter of record, it makes it easier to discover cronyism and allows for more government transparency. Unfortunately, this resolution was abandoned temporarily thanks to Republican efforts to gut the bill.
8. Taxing political contributions.
Apparently, the Obama government is trying to limit free speech by taxing people’s political contributions. Since Republicans are all rich white dudes who throw money around left right and center, this makes it an attack on Republicans’ rights to free speech.
Or, in the real world, the IRS (not Obama), is trying to close a loophole that allows 501 (c) (4) organizations to release attack ads under the guise of social welfare. Basically, you are more than welcome to release as many attack ads as you want, but don’t pretend to be nonpartisan while doing it, and don’t call it charity. It isn’t. It is a loophole that lets you get out of paying taxes while trashing some guy you don’t like. It just means groups like the ACLJ do not get to continue calling themselves nonprofit. Neither does Focus On The Family, or Council of Conservative Citizens. For those that don’t know, the innocent sounding Council of Conservative Citizens is primarily a white separatist organization. Oops, sorry, I mean, an organization of Americans who care!
9. Graphic tobacco warnings
Apparently, safety warnings violate the First Amendment. Obama is trying really hard to take away Big Tobacco’s rights to free speech by making them put pictures of diseased lungs on the box. In the United States Of Republican, informing the public is a violation of the constitution (Side note: This writer smokes. This writer also has a proud collection of all the different graphics they put on Canadian cigarettes back when she lived there. I was the first of my friends to collect them all!)
10. Health Care Waivers
Supposedly, health care waivers are being awarded specifically to friends of the Democratic Party, as opposed to everyone who requests them. Or something. Ooh.
Actually, waivers are awarded to businesses with lower paid (minimum wage) workers such as McDonald’s or Jack in the Box. These waivers are good for one year and are meant to offset the costs of health insurance until Obamacare comes into full effect in 2014. The issue is that workers making a lower wage are less likely to be able to afford more comprehensive coverage. These waivers must be reapplied for every year and will expire in 2014, when the Affordable Care Act takes full effect and small businesses and lower paid employees would find themselves more able to afford comprehensive coverage in a state based competitive market. The elimination of the lower end of plans, called mini-meds in 2014 would force insurance companies to remove limits on lifetime coverage and pre-existing conditions, making health care available for all regardless of health.
What this has to do with the constitution is anyone’s guess.
Emails to Ilya Shapiro, author of the original article requesting his sources proved unfruitful — he “probably” got it from a colleague.
The arguments that the Obama government violates the Constitution as a matter of policy are not only completely baseless but desperate attempts to validate viewpoints that amount essentially to “I just don’t like the guy.” Critical thinking requires that we don’t simply accept arguments as valid because they sound valid, but challenge the evidence presented and search for bias and merit. The arguments made by the Daily Caller in this case are meritless pseudointellectualism at best, and demeaning manipulation at worst.