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President choosing which laws to enforce

Published: July 20, 2013
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Since when can a president pick and choose which parts of a law to enforce and which parts to ignore, postpone or disregard? Obamacare is the law. It includes a regulation that mandates certain employers buy insurance for their qualifying employees effective Jan. 1, 2014, or face a stiff fine — or as Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts called it, a tax. The Obama administration arbitrarily chose to disregard the employer mandate for the time being. Can it also choose to disregard certain provisions of the tax code or the criminal code? For instance, can President Obama just decide a government employee making more than $100,000 per year doesn't have to pay tax on that amount?

Now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has gone further down the path of selective enforcement, announcing state exchanges won't verify income for those buying insurance and taking advantage of the federal tax subsidies. Does the administration believe it can rule by choosing which laws to enforce? The Constitution demands the president enforce the law, not waive the ones he doesn't like. It states that “he shall take care that laws be faithfully executed.” Is arbitrarily deciding not to enforce the major provisions of his signature domestic legislation fulfilling his presidential duty?

The employer mandate is the law, like it or not, and subsidies are reserved only for those with qualifying incomes. Obama took an oath to uphold the Constitution — all of it, not just the parts he likes.

Randy J. Wedel, Stillwater


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