The irony of the suit House Majority Leader John Boehner is filing against President Obama on the issue of executive overreach is that it benefits both the moderate wing of the GOP and even the White House to some extent. The likelihood is that in the long term the suit will fizzle like a firecracker dud, lit up for the 2014 midterms, but going nowhere later.
To recap what the suit is all about is that the president overstepped his authority and became a legislator when he delayed the mandate for a year for certain employers with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for their employees. The White House claims that whether or not the provision is upheld by courts, it would not impact many employers. The Census Bureau shows only 3.6 percent of firms employ 50 or more workers.
The GOP-dominated House is playing whack-a-mole. Responding to cries from critics about the burden the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) places on employers, the president acted by ordering the delay, and now the House suit wants to whack him for doing what they themselves had advocated.
The suit will likely not be settled by the Supreme Court until well after the 2014 midterms, so court decisions themselves will not influence the 2014 midterms. What are the chances it will go nowhere, anyway? The Washington Post’s Wonkblog compiled some opinions and is worth a visit.
“Boehner’s problem is that the vast majority of lawsuits brought by members of Congress against the president on policy issues have been dismissed for lack of standing.” The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman notes it would truly damage the power of the executive branch. The implication of Weisman’s remarks is it would damage power of any future GOP president as well, so the GOP should be careful what it wishes.
So why bother? It suits the GOP and Boehner’s agenda because it rides the unpopularity of the ACA (aka Obamacare) and gives the GOP sustained ability to dramatize their opposition. Boehner’s suit supports the establishment side of his fractured party while giving the Tea Party talking points to use in place of advocating impeachment when the likelihood of impeachment is dim and not popular. Per a yougov.com poll, only one-third of Americans support initiation of impeachment proceedings. (Approval statistics fall along party affiliation; independents are equally split)
Why should the Obama administration see an advantage? To dramatize the GOP as a “do nothing party of No” that opposes his acting even on issues on which they partly agree if it has Obama’s name on it. It also diverts attention from wannabe impeachers and gives anti-Obama passions another outlet to express themselves, one that would be less damaging to the balance of powers.
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