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Sunday, May 27, 2018
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When members of Congress misrepresent

They wouldn’t have made him available if he weren’t going to spin in favor of President Obama’s 29th unilateral “tweak” of the Affordable Care Act — the latest of which amounts to a clear tampering with the federal tax code — but even students of ninth-grade civics would know California Congressman Xavier Becerra missed the mark by five time zones in this exchange with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

“WALLACE: Congressman Becerra, I’ve got to say — I went back and I read … the key parts of the health care law. And it seems to be very specific when it comes to the employer mandate.

“Let’s put it up on the screen. ‘Effective date: the amendments made by this session,’ this is in the employer mandate, ‘the amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.’

“But, Congressman, as you well know, unilaterally, without coming back to Congress, the president has delayed the employer mandate from 2013, to ’14, to ’15, and now to ’16. What gives him the authority to rewrite what seems to be a very clear law?

“BECERRA: Chris, it’s the same authority that every president has had, to make sure that the laws are administered and executed in a way that helps all Americans. [Emphasis added—TJ] The president simply provid[ed] small businesses with a flexibility they need to be able to start adopting the law.”

Becerra, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, surely knows better. The very nature of making law decides winners and losers. Give homebuyers a tax deduction on their mortgage interest, you shift the burden to renters. Make federal dollars available for transit projects, you undercut local governments that took on such projects themselves. Decide that taxpayers who live nowhere near flood threats should no longer subsidize homeowners who do, you make things tough on people who have to buy flood insurance.

Under such circumstances — much like modifying Obamacare — the President can’t hope to “help all Americans.” Traditionally, such hubristic aspirations belong to kings, other potentates and strongmen who, by divine right or military muscle, assume the responsibility for looking after the best interests of all the people. This is patent nonsense, and also is anathema to the U.S. system of government.

Consider the repercussions of the President’s postponement and amendment of the employer mandate. Mid-range companies get another year’s delay, and larger companies get the benefit of a phase-in, but without the delay of the individual mandate. This means full-time workers at companies between 50 and 99 employees (and the 30 percent uncovered by larger companies) will be required to find insurance through the nightmarish exchanges. Is that the way President Obama has decided to “help all Americans?” Or is he trying to get himself and his party out of a jam of their own creation?

Let’s be abundantly clear on this: The President’s job is to defend the Constitution and faithfully execute the laws the nation’s laws. If folks wind up injured and there’s a reasonable fix available, he can recommend it to the Congress. There are no whoopsies and my-bads in the administration of federal laws. If rollouts of massive programs turn up unforeseen problems, the fix is in refining legislation, not flourishes of the executive’s pen and phone.

Becerra has to know that. If he does and still can say what he did, he’s a hack. If he doesn’t know it, he’s unsuited to sit in Congress.