When the first OPEC oil shock hit the U.S. in 1973, President Nixon encouraged Americans as a voluntary gas-saving measure to drive 55 mph on the interstate. Not long after, the infamous “double nickel” became mandatory as Congress made states choose between adopting the lower speed limit and losing millions in federal aid. For two decades, most Americans voted with their gas pedals and flagrantly ignored the federal speed limit. It had become the least respected law since Prohibition by the time President Clinton repealed it in December 1995.
Now, as we learn more about Obamacare, the odds are good that it will ultimately rank right down there with Prohibition and the double nickel in public esteem. First, there is the matter of those 1,040 waivers issued by President Obama's secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius. The waivers allow corporations, health insurance providers, nonprofits and unions to cap how much they spend on individual health insurance policyholders in a year. Obamacare makes it illegal for providers to impose such caps after 2014. The common justification among those seeking the waivers is that they cannot afford Obamacare's removal of coverage caps. Why should anybody continue to believe Obama's endlessly repeated claim that Obamacare will reduce health costs as long as his HHS chief issues hundreds of such waivers?
Then there is the parade of unpleasant surprises like this week's discovery of $105 billion secretly tucked away in the law by its authors to fund implementation of Obamacare. Former Oklahoma Rep. Ernest Istook discovered the stash and wrote about it on a Heritage Foundation blog, then Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., took up the issue by demanding that Congress rescind that money. “People say, 'Well, what's wrong with you members of Congress, why didn't you know it's there?' It's because we didn't get the bill until literally a couple of hours before we were supposed to vote on it, and it's 2,900 pages long,” Bachmann told Fox News. “We're doing everything we can to alert people and to say to Congress, give the money back.” No law can command public respect if its authors felt compelled to hide billions of dollars for its implementation.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson got it right by staying his ruling that the law was unconstitutional and directing the Justice Department to request an expedited appeal by Thursday. “The battle lines have been drawn, the relevant case law marshaled, and the legal arguments refined,” Vinson wrote in his opinion. He's right, Obamacare should go before the nation's highest tribunal, and the sooner that happens, the better it will be for everybody concerned.