Michael Hiltzik: Even This Diehard ObamaCare Opponent Is Not Sure Obama Is Acting Illegally in Unilaterally Delaying Provisions of the Law!
Famed legal expert Disgraced ObamaCare shill Michael Hiltzik turns to the pages of a renowned law review medical journal for supposedly competing views on the legality of Obama’s unilateral changes in ObamaCare. Hiltzik is not a legal expert, but he considers himself an expert on any argument that can be made in favor of ObamaCare, and I guess the L.A. Times editors consider that a “business” topic. In other words, they have realized that actual businessmen don’t really read their rag, and so any liberal claptrap that has economic implications can now be considered fair game for the sock-puppeting business columnist.
Hiltzik opens the analysis by saying:
So let’s strip away the partisan rhetoric and see what the rules say.
Indeed. When I want to “strip away the partisan rhetoric” I head for the nearest copy of the Los Angeles Times and turn straight to the Michael Hiltzik column.
My eyes are rolling back in my head so hard they just called me an ambulance.
Hiltzik’s analysis is based on a look at two supposedly competing viewpoints in that publication that has earned a stellar reputation for its analysis of constitutional law and separation of powers issues: the New England Journal of Medicine. Arguing that Obama can do whatever the hell he wants: Timothy S. Jost of Washington and Lee University Law School and Simon Lazurus of the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington. Their hackwork arguments are predictable.
I want to concentrate on the guy who is supposedly on “the other side” — the guy who, according to Hiltzik, can be counted on to present the most spirited case possible that Obama is acting contrary to the law. That is a guy named Nicholas Bagley from the Michigan Law School.
Per Hiltzik, Bagley has some rather tepid conclusions to the effect that maybe not all of what Obama is doing is quite kosher:
Bagley concludes that some of the Affordable Care Act delays may in fact step over the line, or at least create a “troubling precedent.” Bagley’s not more dogmatic because, as he wrote, “no crisp line separates routine nonenforcement from blatant disregard.”
It’s not unusual, or illegal, for the government to suspend or moderate enforcement of some laws in order to husband its resources for more important duties, Bagley observed. The delay of the employer mandates, moreover, correspond to established practice by the IRS, dating back decades, of granting “transition relief” to taxpayers subject to changes in tax laws, as these are. Congress hasn’t objected in the past. That said, Bagley pointed out that such relief is usually granted for just a few months at a time, and not for major provisions.
Bagley was less tolerant of the delays allowing old, canceled policies to remain temporarily in force. That was a political maneuver, he observed, aimed at validating the president’s promise that “if you like your old plan, you can keep it.” That “probably exceeds” the limits of presidential authority, he said.
You let ‘em have it, Nicholas Bagley!
This fierce opponent of ObamaCare, according to Hiltzik, blames Congress for not helping the law work:
Bagley cited the “toxic and highly polarized political environment,” observing that “Congress’s unwillingness to work constructively with the White House to tweak the ACA has increased the pressure on the administration to move assertively.”
If you’re starting to get the idea that Bagley is not going to be the guy offering the most forceful case against Obama or ObamaCare, you’re right. I looked into Bagley a little further, after being made suspicious by his attack on Republicans in Congress, and found that he is the co-author of an article titled “Why It’s Called the Affordable Care Act.” (.pdf) Here is a choice quote from that article:
By improving quality, controlling costs, and extending coverage to the uninsured, the ACA means to address many of those problems. And it’s about time.
Take that, Obama!
If Hiltzik were intellectually honest, and wanted to present and confront actual arguments against the constitutionality of Obama’s actions, written by people who have not written law review articles praising ObamaCare, he could look to the Volokh Conspiracy (“The ‘fix’ amounts to new legislation – but enacted without Congress. The President has no constitutional authority to rewrite statutes”) or Nicholas Rosenkranz (Obama’s actions are “a unilateral executive suspension of the law” that “flouted the Constitution”) or Michael McConnell (“While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.”).
Instead, Hiltzik takes a figure that is not actually making a conservative argument, pretends that this figure is making a conservative argument, and then says: “Look! Even this conservative says the Republicans are irresponsible!” It reminds me of when Hiltzik sock-puppeted at this blog, attacking my commenter Specter. Hiltzik trumpeted the success of his own sock puppet in attacking Specter, saying:
For anyone interested, Specter is getting his head handed to him over at the Patterico blog for trying to sleaze out from under his flat misstatements of fact. And that’s a conservative blog. Follow the link above, and enjoy the carnage.
Hiltzik was trying to argue: “Look! Even a commenter at a conservative blog thinks Specter is wrong!” when Hiltzik himself was the commenter at the conservative blog.
This is the kind of dishonesty we have come to expect from Michael Hiltzik. And it’s the same move he makes when he sets up Nicholas Bagley as some sort of ObamaCare opponent.
P.S. I can’t let this go without comment:
Interestingly, Bagley and Jost/Lazarus agree on two major points. One is that even if Obama has stepped over the line of legality, there’s nothing anyone can do about it: No one has standing to sue Obama in court to force the mandates to be observed.
If that is truly Bagley’s analysis, it is sophomoric. It is emphatically not the case that, if no party has standing to contest presidential overreaching, “there’s nothing anyone can do about it.” Legal Expert Michael Hiltzik and ObamaCare Opponent Nicholas Bagley might want to take a look at a document called the Constitution, which entitles the legislative branch to address executive overreach in numerous ways that have nothing to do with the courts. Those methods include the Dreaded Ted Cruz Move of exercising control over the purse strings of the federal government.
They also include impeachment.
Next time, find someone who actually opposes Obama and his totalitarian law, Hiltzik, and they’ll school you on these matters. Maybe you’ll actually learn something.
Ah, who am I kidding?