A Stand for Liberty

Tuesday, 01 Jul 2014 03:17 PM

By Edward J. Pozzuoli

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President Barack Obama’s election was heralded as a new day, an end to the corruption and cynicism that marred the American political system. Government would be responsive, transparent, and accountable, and we would all come together to cure society’s ills.

Yet six years in, that vision has faded from memory. In its place, there is a culture of unprecedented bureaucratic corruption without constitutional limits. We’ve reached a point where ordinary Americans should have healthy reason to fear this administration.

The Affordable Care Act was cloaked with the false hope that the immense power of government could be harnessed to foster competition and rein in the excesses of the healthcare system. Yet its implementation has been an exercise in futility that has cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars, raising the cost of care for many, limiting choices, and discouraging excellence to the significant portion of our health system that previously provide the highest level of care.

Meanwhile, veterans returning from war in need of critical care have been victimized by a Veterans Affairs Department that has pledged to serve and protect them. As VA bureaucrats scramble to doctor records and cover up failures, war veterans die from neglect at the hands of their own government.

As the government continues to expand its role in health care, American citizens would be foolish not to note this egregious failure to serve those most deserving of aid and support. We should all be troubled that the same government charged with oversight of the VA now believes it can effectively administer Obamacare.

The rational reaction of any patriotic American would be to speak out against controversial programs and government failures, yet engaging with this administration has proven a dicey proposition. Polite discourse and political engagement has been replaced by the prosecutorial power of the Internal Revenue Service. The agency has targeted conservative political groups in a deliberate attempt to stifle political dissent and now claims by some miraculous computer glitch that potential evidence has vanished.

Meanwhile, the National Security Agency, tasked with protecting American citizens, was engaged in widespread, unsanctioned surveillance of American citizens. The administration has, on several occasions, tried to pass off its most egregious abuses as the work of rogue actors, but as the scandals pile up, it’s become clear that this is an executive drunk with power, untethered from the law, and running amok.

" ... When the people fear their government, there is tyranny."

One would be hard pressed to find a constitutional law professor outside the Oval Office who would not agree that a multitude of Obama’s actions have been well beyond the authority granted to the president by Article II of the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately,  Obama’s words and actions indicate that the law is whatever he needs it to be.

That’s the only tenable explanation when the president, who famously declares that the Affordable Care Act signed into law and certified constitutional by the Supreme Court was "the law of the land" unilaterally changes the ACA over a dozen times. There’s simply no constitutional authority for such an action, and under a constitutional republic, the rule of law matters. The president doesn’t seem to care.

It’s clear that the President’s disturbing, conscious disregard for our constitutional system of checks and balances has become the rule, rather than the exception. Indeed, unilateral, unconstitutional executive actions are primed to become the legacy of the Obama administration.

Just last month, this imperial president took it upon himself to release a veritable Taliban all-star team from Guantanamo without notifying Congress, in direct violation of the law (unsurprisingly, a law he signed) and against the advice of our military leadership, most notably Leon Panetta.

Panetta had served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and secretary of defense under  Obama. Panetta expressed serious concerns that these five high-value detainees would return to the field of battle. We have much to fear

What's worse is this administration holds no one accountable for all these failings. The ability of this administration to continue to pass the buck, turn a blind eye, and claim it was unaware, as they did when U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry lost his life as a result of a bungled "Fast and Furious" operation, should be allowed no more.

Ultimately, the president should be aware and responsible for the actions of the ranking employees that serve at his pleasure. This president has, for the majority of his administration, been protected by an adoring press corps and Democratic Party full of sycophants and apologists. Those days are likely over.

It’s the time for the president to be called to account for the blunders and abuses that have festooned his administration. As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently stated, "When the government fears people there is liberty. When people fear their government, there is tyranny. "

As we have seen in the last few weeks, our third branch of government has recognized this overreach by this administration. The Supreme Court stood up for liberty. It’s time we all side with liberty this November.

Edward J. Pozzuoli is president of Tripp Scott law firm and was co-chairman of  Jeb Bush for Governor. He served as an integral member of the Bush/Cheney legal team in the 2000 presidential recount litigation.


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