Negotiating with Republicans has never been in Obama’s playbook. Three days after his inauguration in 2009, President Barack Obama silenced Republican lawmakers who voiced concerned about the enormity of spending in his stimulus bill by uttering two brash words, “I won.”
That was his governing philosophy, as he rammed through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
But in the fall of 2010. Republicans swept into control of the House of Representatives, and since then Obama’s agenda has been stalled. With little prospect of gaining control of the House in 2014, Obama is resorting to discrediting the Constitution’s limits on presidential power rather than bargain with Congressional Republicans.
Here are the President’s own words, explaining why he refuses to negotiate to end the government shutdown and resolve the fast approaching debt ceiling problem. His views on presidential power ought to alarm all Americans.
“I will not pay ransom” said Obama, for a stopgap spending bill to open the government.
Historically presidents have had to make concessions to Congress to secure funding. President Reagan endured eight shutdowns. Each time he negotiated with the Democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, conceding on issues from mid-range missile defense to support for Nicaraguan contras, to quickly end the shutdown.
Fast forward to the current showdown. The House Republicans’ fourth (and latest) offer asks for only two changes in Obamacare: First, eliminate the subsidy for members of Congress, which has outraged the public. And second, delay for a year making insurance mandatory for individuals. Let anyone enroll in Obamacare who wants to. But don’t penalize individuals for being uninsured in 2014 when the president has already postponed the penalty on big companies for not insuring workers.
“The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House, it passed the Senate, the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional … and it is settled,” said Obama.
Not so. The health program the president is imposing on us is not the Affordable Care Act. The president has dismembered and mangled it. Gone is the employer mandate, the cap on out of pocket expenses, income verification and over half the deadlines specified in the law. The President delayed or did away with these features, without asking Congress. Illegally. Then he added 1,472 waivers and connived a subsidy for members of Congress that no one else in American earning $174,000 a year could get. The Supreme Court has ruled twice that presidents cannot delay, amend, and repeal parts of laws.