This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; … shall be the Supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. (U.S. Constitution Article VI)
The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. … He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…” (U.S. Constitution, Article VII)
The Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” was approved by both Houses of the U.S. Congress, and duly signed into law by the President of the United States. Its provisions are, in consequence, “the Supreme law of the land.” The President is therefore Constitutionally obliged to act in good faith to enforce them. If people are damaged by a sitting President’s failure to respect those provisions; or by any state government’s failure to do so, they may have recourse to the courts of law to seek relief, at the state or national level, as appropriate.
What happens, however, if a law simply doesn’t work? Senator Graham advises President Trump to “allow Obamacare to fall apart” and “force the Dems to help pick up the pieces.” A careless listener may assume that his words put the onus of responsibility on the Democrats, as members of the Party mainly responsible for approving the legislation in question. But, in fact, they slyly acknowledge that the onus of responsibility for implementing the law, or dealing with its deficiencies in practice, rests with the present President, and the Congress, both of which are now nominally under Republican sway.
Regardless of their party affiliation, all the officials involved are bound by oath to uphold the Constitution. Is it consistent with this oath for them to allow provisions of law to collapse, even though vested with the Constitution’s authority as the Supreme Law of the land? Or is this an egregious dereliction of duty, plainly contrary to the President’s Constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”; and also plainly inconsistent with every member of Congress’s sworn duty to “support and defend” the Constitution of the United States?
A careful answer to this question is in fact vital to the national security of the United States, since our military officers are also sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Are they authorized simply to abandon that oath in the midst of battle, when plans start to go awry? If we do not excuse dereliction from our military leaders, even if it means they must give their lives, how can we be justified in accepting it from political representatives, bound by the same words, when they are asked to risk their political ambitions to sustain the Constitution’s effective existence?
It obviously doesn’t make sense for the President or the Congress to persist in implementing provisions of law that plainly damage the purposes they were meant to serve. That would defy common sense. But, if they are to support and defend the Constitution, as their sworn duty requires, aren’t they obliged to retreat from that damaging position with the same care we would expect from our military officers, even if doing so requires that some units be sacrificed in holding actions that allow others to escape?
If Obamacare is collapsing, both the President and the Congress are obliged to exercise that kind of care. Neither can rightly act as if they are merely spectators, content to let the law fall into contempt, while they shift the blame to this or that other party. Any of them who do so are as much to blame for the individual and general losses we suffer as a nation as our military leaders would be if they stood idly by while their disappointed plans devoured our troops and armies.
When plans have clearly failed, it is imperative to acknowledge that fact, withdrawing the provisions made to execute them. This is the responsibility of the Congress. Congress alone has the authority to repeal disastrous legislation. They must do so, as one removes the dangerous ruins of a building destroyed by some calamity.
In the meantime, it falls to the Chief executive to deal with the immediate effects of the calamity, such as putting out fires and rescuing people trapped beneath the rubble. It is inexcusable to suggest that the forces responsible for law and administration should simply allow things to collapse, indulging themselves in an orgy of self-serving recrimination while declining confidence in both law and administration impels our nation toward chaos.
It is particularly incongruous for a GOP Senator to suggest such passively self-serving dereliction. The collapse of Obamacare offers champions of free enterprise (which Republicans are supposed to be) the ideal opportunity to put their ideas into action. It reminds me of the famous crisis the British faced when the Nazis completed their invasion of France during WWII. British forces faced likely annihilation, with dire implications for the ultimate defense of Great Britain. With military naval transport in short supply, the British government called on every seaworthy means of civilian transport to bring British troops home.
It should come as no surprise to champions of free enterprise that Obama’s socialist scheme to consolidate government control of the health care sector is collapsing. This result simply adds to the overwhelming evidence accumulated during last century, showing that socialism doesn’t work. It is ideologically bankrupt and economically bankrupting. We don’t need to replace Obamacare. We need to bulldoze it onto the ash heap of human experience.
Then we need to think about of what government must do to facilitate and encourage private sector responses that meet the needs of all our people. As we do so, we should remember that free enterprise includes more than profit motivated enterprises. It includes the good works, done not for profit, but to enact our duty in God, and the corresponding will to serve humanity. That goodwill was often the seed and root of clinics, hospitals and other health care institutions in America. The names of many of them remind us that health care was, and still should be, a work of mercy—driven by our responsibility to God, and our determination to make His merciful work our own. We don’t need some politically jerry-rigged version of proven failure. We need to restore free enterprise, pursued in good faith, to the leading place in our economy, a lead justified by successes still envied throughout the world.