Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Treasury witnesses avoid hearing to investigate illegal Obamacare rule making process
Texas Insider Report: WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today held a hearing in the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts to examine the Department of Treasury’s rulemaking that has disregarded the text of the law and illegally enabled the IRS to provide federal Obamacare subsidies to millions of Americans. Sen. Cruz invited Treasury officials, but they refused to attend.
“I wanted to take just a few minutes to discuss the empty table before us. It is a symbol for how little regard the Obama Administration has for the American people,” Sen. Cruz said.
He continued, “This is fundamentally about the question of whether the federal government can impose billions of dollars of taxes upon millions of Americans directly contrary to the text of federal law. It is likewise about whether the federal government can spend billions of dollars explicitly prohibited by federal law. If the answer to both of those questions is yes, if the Administration’s interpretation is acceded to, it makes the entire constitutional law-making function superfluous.”
Sen. Cruz concluded, “These penalties coming from the individual mandate disproportionally hurt the most vulnerable among us. The people being hurt by these illegal taxes… are young people, they are single moms, they are Hispanics, they are African Americans, that are suddenly finding a big tax bill that is due from an administration that is ignoring and violating federal law to extract illegal taxes.”
Though the first panel failed to attend, the second panel consisted of the following legal and health care experts: Michael A. Carvin, partner at Jones Day; Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute; Andy Grewal, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law; Elizabeth B. Wydra, Chief Counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center; and Robert N. Weiner, partner at Arnold & Porter LLP.
Last week, Sen. Cruz sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew regarding the department’s refusal to supply key witnesses for the hearing and stating that he may have “no choice but to pursue other options, including compulsory process.”
“Before we get into the substance of this hearing, I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss the empty table in front of us. It is a symbol of just how little regard the Obama Administration has for the American people.
“Two weeks ago, the committee sent a letter to three current employees of the U.S. Treasury Department, requesting their attendance at this hearing to talk about Treasury’s role in developing the Obamacare exchange subsidy rule, which is hurting millions of people across this country, and which is directly contrary to the statutory text of the underlying bill.
“Specifically, this committee sent letters to Mark Mazur, who is the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at Treasury; Emily McMahon, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at Treasury, and who was serving as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy when the rule was written and finalized; and to Cameron Arterton, who is the Deputy Tax Legislative Counsel for Tax Policy at Treasury.
“Shortly after these invitation letters were sent, the Treasury Department reached out to my staff and brazenly indicated they did not intend to send any witnesses. I would note our former Attorney General Eric Holder, the first Attorney General to be held in contempt of Congress, these three empty seats demonstrate the ongoing contempt for Congress and for the American people that is manifested by the Obama Administration.
“For the Treasury Department to tell the United States Senate they have no time, they will not even answer questions about how they promulgated rule making in direct conflict with statutory text is the height of arrogance. The beginning of this hearing was to give them an opportunity to come and answer questions, to recognize the oversight responsibility given to the Senate, given to Congress by the United States Constitution. By their absence, I take it the Administration is saying they are not subject to oversight, and yet at the end of the day, the American people provide the ultimate oversight.
“Given that the Administration refused to cooperate in this hearing, it is my hope that the full committee will take it to the next level by invoking compulsory process so that members of the Executive Branch will be made to answer whether they tried to follow the law or whether they were instructed by political operatives to disregard the law in the interest of a political outcome.
“That’s a question the executive needs to answer, and the purpose of this hearing is to begin getting to the bottom of it. I can understand why the Administration is reluctant to engage in this discussion, I can understand why both in substance, after over five years of Obamacare, we have seen that millions of people are hurting under it.
“The American people were promised by the President, if you like your health insurance plan you can keep your health insurance plan, well millions of people discovered that promise was false, that it was knowingly, deliberately false, as millions of Americans had their health insurance plans canceled. The president promised the American people if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, that we now know was a statement that was knowingly, deliberately false.
“Today as a consequence of Obamacare, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have been forced into part-time work, have lost their health insurance, have lost their doctors, and are facing skyrocketing insurance premiums.
“So I can understand why the Administration would be reluctant to defend that record on the merits. I can also understand why the Administration does not want to answer questions about the underlying legal question. The statutory text is straightforward and at the end of the day it is not a complicated question, what the administration did is took statutory language of an exchange established by a state and, through transmogrification that would make Harry Houdini shake his head in wonderment, defined the federal government’s exchange as an exchange established by a state.
“The question this hearing and the next panel hopefully will get to, is: Was that an attempt by an executive agency to follow the law, to carry out the President’s constitutional obligation, to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Or was it instead a deliberate effort to ignore the law, driven by political and partisan objectives from political appointees at the Treasury Department and the White House. This is a question of exceptional importance because if the executive refuses to implement the laws that are passed by Congress then the basic protections of our constitution become ephemeral. That’s the purpose of this hearing, and I’m disappointed that the Administration has chosen not even to engage in this conversation. With that I’ll recognize the ranking member Senator Coons.”
Posted by Barbara at 7:03 AM