And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Government Welfare—You can’t get out of it even if you want to.

Posted on: January 27, 2013

As many of you know I am, and have always been, against the government welfare for the elderly programs.  I am NOT, repeat NOT, against helping those who need help.  I am against forcing those who do not need it the government welfare programs.  At age 24 with an insurance covered by her children grandmother I very much opposed Medicare.  60%, that is 6 out of 10 elderly people at that time DID NOT need government welfare, but the insurance companies insisted that in order to take on those who did need this help with their medical bills the government must FORCE all elderly to participate.  This is why at age 71 I am on Medicare instead of the WORK EARNED TriCare medical insurance that I was most pleased with.  I will grant you that Medicare has paid for every thing I have needed it for.  And I still resent it because if the government had not gotten into competition with me on health insurance then the escalation of medical costs would have remained fairly even with inflation, and even gone down in costs as technology increased and medical practice and health car as other things that the government did not get into remained reasonably priced as have hundreds of other commodities and services that the government did not get their bumbling fingers into.  I hate every medical bill I cause and do at times refuse treatment  because it is the young workers who are footing the bills!  Bills by the way that only inflated by triple digits every year since Medicare went into effect!  EVERYTHING, yes EVERYTHING, the government gets into goes sky high in price and is POORLY RUN.  There is not one government program that is not poorly administered and wasteful and extremely high priced.  Even the very best of them, the military, is poorly administered and wasteful.  The military by the way is one of  the very few  government programs the Constitution demands that the federal government does undertake for it’s citizens!  Everything else our government, both city,state and federal,  just usurped from us the People.  Or, worse yet, we demanded that they take from our shoulders!

So my rant today is about Federal Government Welfare Programs for the elderly and the sad fact that an individual can not get  out of one of them even if they want to.  Read on for another great folly and how the Supreme Court helped in this folly. BB

JANUARY 25, 2013 2:22PM

Supreme Court Snubs Citizens Whose Social Security Will Be Confiscated If They Refuse Government Health Care

Some of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most significant decisions are those declining to hear a case. Two weeks ago, the Court made such a momentous non-ruling in refusing to hear a lawsuit, Hall v. Sebelius, challenging government policies that deny otherwise eligible retirees their Social Security benefits if they choose not to enroll in Medicare. (I previously wrote about the case, and Cato filed a brief supporting the retirees’ petition for Supreme Court review.)

Despite having paid thousands of dollars each in Social Security and Medicare taxes during their working lives—for which they never sought reimbursement—the five plaintiffs were told by officials at the Social Security Administration and Department of Health and Human Services that they had to forfeit all of their Social Security benefits if they wished to withdraw from (or not enroll in) Medicare. This determination resulted from internal policies that were put in place during the Clinton administration and strengthened by the Bush administration. The plaintiffs sought a judicial ruling that would prohibit SSA and HHS from enforcing these policies, which they believed conflicted with the Social Security and Medicare statutes. A sharply divided U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit eventually upheld them. By its decision not to hear the case, the Supreme Court let that controversial ruling stand.

At this point, one might ask why someone would want to give up Medicare. The answer is that some people would prefer to keep their existing (private) health insurance, but that for various regulatory and economic reasons insurance companies are wary of insuring people already covered by Medicare. Talk about the prototypical case of government programs crowding out the private sector!  (THINK OBAMACARE!! How long do you think it will be before everyone is on the government  so-called Public Option? BB)

In any event, the troubling reality of the Supreme Court’s non-ruling is twofold: First, the government now has full authority to force citizens to participate in a financially troubled program (Medicare) that was originally intended to be—and operated for almost three decades as—a wholly voluntary program. If they refuse, SSA and HHS can deny them their Social Security benefits. If they seek to withdraw from Medicare, SSA and HHS can not only deny them future benefits, but force them to repay all benefits received from both programs. Second, the Supreme Court’s unwillingness to address the issue raised here allows federal agencies to bypass Congress with impunity when drafting and implementing their own rules.  (The President is doing this almost weekly with his Presidential Decrees and appointments.  Recently, the US District Court in Washington DC  did rule against the Presidential appointments of three extremely liberal and union representatives he appointed to the National Labor Relations Board when Congress was still in session.  Democrat Harry Reid set up this scheme whereby the Senate was considered in session if someone came in and called the senate to order regardless of how many people were in attendance or even if the Senators were in town.  He did this to block the Senate Republicans from an action they wanted to take.  Now this action of Democrat Harry Reid and the President’s Man in the Senate has played right into the hands of Conservatives!  Sometimes there is Pay Back!   At any rate, the US Court of Appeals in DC ruled that the Senate was indeed in session even tho the Senators were out of town and therefore the Presidents appoints were illegal and void.  This of course makes all of their ruling against the People and Business and for the union thugs illegal and void.  (I have copy the Cato Institute report on this at the bottom of this post)

The Supreme Court however by refusing to hear this case does open up the case for the department, and President to continue to by pass Congress and make their own laws!  Think long and hard about this People.  BB)

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Kent Masterson Brown, had this to say in a press release following the Supreme Court’s order:

Not only have the Courts allowed these agencies to grant themselves permission to seize a retiree’s Social Security benefits should they opt out of Medicare, but they have allowed those agencies to turn voluntary programs into compulsory ones, giving Seniors no choice whatsoever but to accept the ever more limited health care offered by Medicare. The plaintiffs cannot pay for their own health care—and save the Government and taxpayers money—without forfeiting all of their Social Security benefits.  There is nothing in the Social Security statutes that says a retired individual who chooses not to apply for Medicare coverage will be stripped of his or her Social Security benefits.

Martha de Forest, executive director of a group that supported the lawsuit, the Fund for Personal Liberty, also had a response:

Why would the government tie two programs together when they have different payment mechanisms and different start dates? It is about control, nothing more.  That is why the government forces retirees to participate in Medicare as a condition of receiving Social Security Retirement benefits.

At base, it’s axiomatic that administrative agencies have no powers not granted to them by Congress and that regulations must be anchored in their operative statute. The rules challenged here failed this standard. Combined with the fiscal irresponsibility of forcing citizens to accept costly benefits during hard economic times, the SSA and HHS rules are an arbitrary power grab. Agency overreach imperils the separation of powers and therefore liberty.

Now that the Supreme Court has failed to counter this unauthorized expansion of federal power, it’s time for Congress to do so by legislation—as Quin Hillyer suggests in his commentary on the case. Richard Epstein has further thoughts on how Hall v. Sebelius illustrates the untrammeled growth of the administrative state.

Creative Commons License
This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

 

JANUARY 25, 2013 3:38PM

DC Circuit Overturns President Obama’s Power Grab

Today, in an important decision with far-reaching implications, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional President Obama’s appointment of three members to the National Labor Relations Board.

Slightly over a year ago, on January 4, 2012, President Obama appointed four people to high-level offices without the constitutionally required “advice and consent” of the Senate. Three of those appointees were placed on the NLRB, and the other was Richard Cordray, chosen to direct the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the “consumer watchdog” agency created by Dodd-Frank.

The appointments were one of the most significant power grabs by a president in recent memory. The Constitution requires that certain “officers of the United States,” a category which indisputably includes NLRB board members and the director of the CFPB, be appointed by the president with the “advice and consent of the Senate.” Like many constitutional provisions, this is a “checks and balances” requirement that helps ensure the president does not unilaterally control the executive branch for his own purposes.

As a precaution against crucial offices staying vacant while the Senate is not in session, the Framers included a clause that allows the president to temporarily circumvent the “advice and consent” requirement in order “to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” At the time of the framing, as well as for many decades afterward, senators would usually spend six to nine months out of Washington. In those absences, it was left to the president to keep the government going, and the Recess Appointment Clause gives the president the power to make temporary appointments during those long periods when the Senate was simply unavailable.

Unfortunately, like so many constitutional provisions, the last 80 years have seen a gradual, bipartisan effort to whittle away the Recess Appointment Clause’s function and to concentrate more power in the president. Initially, presidents began redefining what a “recess” is by asserting the power to appoint officers during “intrasession recesses”—that is, breaks within a formal session (e.g., holiday breaks)—rather than just during intersession recesses. After this precedent had been established by President Warren Harding, successive presidents began appointing officials during shorter and shorter intrasession recesses. President Clinton made a controversial appointment during a 10-day intrasession recess, and President George W. Bush followed suit.

In 2007, after Bush’s controversial appointments, the Senate, led by Harry Reid, began holding “pro forma” sessions in order to block future appointments. Usually held every three days during intrasession recesses, pro forma sessions are often less than a minute long and held in a largely empty Senate chamber. Yet the sessions satisfy the constitutional definition of being “in session” and are often used by the Senate and House to satisfy the constitutional requirement that either chamber cannot adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other.

Whereas previous presidents only had the gall to assert the power to determine what a recess was, President Obama’s innovation in executive power grabs was to assert the power to determine whether or not a pro forma session is actually a session for the purposes of the Recess Appointment Clause. According to the Office of Legal Council, the president has the “discretion to conclude that the Senate is unavailable to perform its advise-and-consent function and to exercise his power to make recess Appointments.”

The OLC’s argument “will not do,” wrote Chief Judge David Sentelle in a stirring and chiding opinion rooted in constitutional originalism. He continued:

An interpretation of “the Recess” that permits the President to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law.

As for whether or not the Senate’s intentions for holding pro forma sessions permit the president to determine whether the Senate is actually in session, Judge Sentelle writes:

The Senate’s desires do not determine the Constitution’s meaning. The Constitution’s separation of powers features, of which the Appointments Clause is one, do not simply protect one branch from another. These structural provisions serve to protect the people, for it is ultimately the people’s rights that suffer when one branch encroaches on another. As Madison explained in Federalist No. 51, the division of power between the branches forms part of the “security [that] arises to the rights of the people.”

After appointing Cordray and the NLRB board members, President Obama said he “refused to take no for an answer,” and that he would “not stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people they were elected to serve.” The President’s attorneys made a similar argument, claiming that the Senate was standing in the way of his duties as president. Sentelle’s response:

It bears emphasis that “[c]onvenience and efficiency are not the primary objectives—or the hallmarks—of democratic government.” … The power of a written constitution lies in its words. It is those words that were adopted by the people. When those words speak clearly, it is not up to us to depart from their meaning in favor of our own concept of efficiency, convenience, or facilitation of the functions of government.

The decision is an important step to reining in a long line of presidential abuses. If the court had upheld the appointments, Obama unquestionably would not have been the last to use this power. Moreover, the reasoning of the decision should directly apply to Richard Cordray of the constitutionally problematic CFPB. His days are numbered if the Supreme Court either upholds the decision or does not take the case.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

See topic cloud at bottom of page for specific topics.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 93 other followers

BB’s file cabinet

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers

%d bloggers like this: