Obama's fall from grace sets a scary precedent for future presidents

The increasing lawlessness with which President Barack Obama has been acting in his second term is not going unnoticed.

In fact, in a strong rebuke last week to the unilateral actions being taken by the Obama administration, a federal appeals court came down hard on the administration’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission by ruling that delaying a decision on a proposed nuclear waste storage facility was in violation of federal law. In the majority opinion, the judges declared that the administration was “simply flouting the law,” and that President Obama “may not decline to follow a statute or prohibition simply because of policy objections.”

President Obama’s fall from grace as the candidate elected to rein in executive power in 2008 is more than tragic – it sets scary new precedents for the behavior of future presidents from either party.

Just take for example how President Obama has selectively enforced his own health care law:

  • In 2011, the Obama administration unilaterally ended the CLASS Act – a long-term care insurance plan included in ObamaCare that proved to be unworkable. Congress would later pass a repeal of this program, but it still signaled a disturbing beginning to the President’s pattern of selectively enforcing his law.
  • Last month, the President issued a one-year delay on the employer mandate contained in ObamaCare that would force large employers to insure their employees or pay a penalty. When my House Republican colleagues and I moved forward with 35 House Democrats to pass legislation that would codify the delay into law, the President responded by issuing a veto threat on a bill that would have made his actions legally binding.
  • The President has now unilaterally ignored legal statute and issued a delay on anti-fraud measures within the law. Taxpayers now are at significant risk for fraud and abuse as the President nefariously seeks to push as many people as possible onto ObamaCare subsidies whether they are eligible or not.
  • And just last week it was reported that the President has delayed provisions of ObamaCare that would limit out-of-pocket health care costs on individuals and families. Just as the President caved to pressure from big business on the employer mandate delay, he has now caved to insurance companies over the best interests of American families.
  • The Obama administration has even gone so far as to circumvent a GOP amendment to the health care law that would have required members of Congress and their staffs to abide by the same exchange rules as Americans across the country. The Office of Personnel and Management issued a ruling giving Congress the unique ability to participate in the exchanges while still having employer-subsidized premiums.


At a press conference before the President left town on vacation, he was asked about his decision to pick and choose what parts of the law he enforced. His response was that, “in a normal political environment,” he would have contacted the Speaker of the House and asked for help to “tweak” the law. One must wonder what the President considers a “normal” political environment – is it one where his party controls the House and has a super majority in the Senate?

Again, the precedent these actions set for future administrations should scare all Americans. And they should worry the President as well. If President Obama can unilaterally decide which parts of the law he must enforce, what is to prevent the next president, regardless of party,  from unilaterally deciding to not enforce these and other laws passed by Congress? And how far is he willing to test Americans’ patience with his increasingly imperial presidency?

Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee's 6th congressional district and serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees. She has been a registered nurse for more than 40 years.