IRS Chief Risk Officer David Fisher recently laid out how Obama administration officials decide what they want to do and then search for a way to justify their actions. The Constitution and the law are irrelevant; only the ends matter.
At issue is a provision in Obamacare. As I explained here a few weeks ago, Democrats who wrote the law wanted to provide additional help for lower-income families beyond the subsidies, and so they required health insurers to reduce out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and co-pays for those making up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
The law says the federal government will cover those losses by giving the health insurers additional funds. However, the law never appropriated the money. Since under the Constitution, Congress must appropriate all money spent by the federal government, Obama officials decided to fish around for some justification for doing what they wanted to do anyway.
That’s when they invited David Fisher and other IRS officials to the White House to test their justifications. As Fisher just testified before Congress, he didn’t buy it. The White House, he judged, would need Congress to appropriate the money.
But the administration wasn’t about to let the law and the Constitution stand in its way, and so it pulled money from other parts of the government to pay the health insurers. House Republicans objected and sued the administration, and a federal judge recently agreed.
What’s most interesting, and perhaps most disturbing, about Fisher’s testimony is that it reconfirms the lawlessness of this administration. Time and again the Obama administration has decided to do things it knew it had no statutory or constitutional authority to do. For example:
- After years of claiming he had no legal power to effectively legalize millions of illegal immigrants, Obama did just that.
- The Office of Personnel Management was able to conjure up justification for members of Congress and their staffs to get federal subsidies for their Obamacare coverage—even though the law clearly requires them to be treated like other Americans.
- Obama determined that he could decide when the Senate was not in session so he could make recess appointments—a decision the Supreme Court overturned unanimously.
- The Obama administration decided to hand out Obamacare subsidies to states that did not create their own health insurance exchanges, even though the law clearly set that as a condition.
- Obama has entered into treaties—the one with Iran and the Paris Climate Change treaty being the two most recent examples—without the two-thirds Senate confirmation required by the Constitution.
In all of these examples, and many more, the White House has ignored the law in order to do what it wanted. Now we know even the IRS was suspicious.