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    ObamaCare and the Ever-Expanding Administrative State

    The passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as ObamaCare, stands as one of the largest expansions of the unconstitutional administrative state in the country’s history. Since the Progressive Era, the United States has been steadily drifting away from the founding-era principles of republicanism, separation of powers, and respect for the rule of law and towards an ever-expanding and overreaching government no longer abiding by its constitutional limits. Congress has repeatedly delegated its legislative authority to independent agencies and departments removed from the political process, while the judicial branch looks the other way.

    The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court is over 2,500 pages long, but all it does is give independent, unelected government bureaucrats the authority to formulate the rules and regulations that will dictate consumer access to health care.1 Through ObamaCare, Congress has delegated legislative powers to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which are now responsible for governing health care nationwide.

    Additionally, at least 21 federal agencies are working on an education program to assist in the implementation of ObamaCare, according to a leaked slideshow from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).2 While CMS declined to provide details of the agencies and their work, the leak included descriptions of promotional activities taken by agencies that should clearly not be involved in health care whatsoever, including the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Commerce. Even more bizarre, the Institute for Museum and Library Services is partnering with CMS and assisting public librarians in promoting the health care law.

    The overlap in goals and activities across various agencies demonstrates the inefficiency and waste of governmental operations, especially operations undertaken by the administrative state. Independent federal agencies and departments are granted the authority to use taxpayer dollars to wage a propaganda campaign for the Obama administration’s unconstitutional health care law. Furthermore, they are tasked with writing a massive amount of rules and regulations to implement the law. The result is the creation of dozens of new governmental entities staffed with more unelected bureaucrats responsible for regulating every aspect of our lives.

    The exact number of new entities that will be created pursuant to ObamaCare is unknown because of the complexity of the legislation, but a Congressional Research Service report describes several of the dozens of new governmental agencies, departments, commissions, boards, and advisory bodies that either have already been created or will be created in the near future. These include entities that were created by ObamaCare itself, entities that ObamaCare requires the Secretary of HHS to establish, entities that ObamaCare requires other organizations to establish, and entities that ObamaCare authorizes to be established. The degree of specificity regarding each of these entities varies considerably. For some, the legislation details when they are to be established, where they are to be located, their structure and composition, and the timeline of their operations. However, the law is silent on some or all of these issues in other cases.

    Another common characteristic of administrative state agencies is their threat to the rule of law. Due to the nature of federal agencies and departments, politically-dominant groups receive special treatment, typically in the form of waivers. The consolidation of legislative, executive, and even judicial powers in the hands of the same agency inevitably leads to a large degree of discretion when granting exemptions. HHS has written more than 13,000 pages of rules and regulations as part of ObamaCare and has granted over 1,700 waivers to selected companies and organizations.3 The issuing of such waivers is a blatant violation of a citizen’s right to equal treatment under the law.

    ObamaCare is just the latest colossal addition to the overwhelming amount of regulation that has been steadily increasing since the Progressive Era that emerged in the late 1800s. All too often, the judiciary has unfortunately decided to defer to legislators and the executive branch, despite having historically upheld the constitutional principles that are now being routinely disregarded. As a result, American citizens are no longer living as free individuals in a constitutional republic, but as subjects of an overbearing and hostile administrative state.

    Follow Ashley Reaves on Twitter @AshleyPReaves


    1. John Marini, Ph.D., "Budget Battles and the Growth of the Administrative State," Hillsdale College, October 2013. http://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/file/archives/pdf/2013_10_Imprimis.pdf 

    2. Lamar Alexander, "21 Federal Agencies Working to Implement Obamacare, But Who Are They?," Washington Examiner, August 1, 2013 http://washingtonexaminer.com/21-federal-agencies-working-to-implement-obamacare-but-who-are-they/article/2533786 

    3. Joseph Postell, Ph.D., "From Administrative State to Constitutional Government," The Heritage Foundation, December 14, 2012. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/12/from-administrative-state-to-constitutional-government