Editor's Note: Here is the weekly message from Congressman Ron DeSantis, the Republican from St. Augustine, representing the 6th district that includes greater Daytona Beach...
I was disappointed at how dismissive the President was about those of us who are critics of ObamaCare.
Millions of Americans are chafing under higher health insurance premiums, millions have lost their insurance, and millions are losing access to their preferred doctors -- despite the President's repeated promises to the contrary.
To suggest that these Americans do not deserve to have their voices heard in this debate is absurd. As much as the President would like to distract from these problems, the fact remains that the law was passed on false pretenses and Americans are increasingly becoming painfully aware that they have been sold a bill of goods.
Congress needs to get to work protecting people from the harmful effects of this law, including protecting taxpayers from being forced to bail out insurance companies (which is actually required under ObamaCare).
2. The Economy
The President delivered a contradictory message regarding the economy: he claimed his policies are working and that the economy is healthy yet he proposed a flurry of government spending initiatives that belied his claims. To me, I think our nation still has some serious economic challenges.
First, for those at the bottom of the income ladder, government policies tend to trap people in their current circumstances and do not incentivize upward mobility. Government's role is necessarily limited in this area -- and a range of cultural factors are surely critical -- but at a minimum policies at the federal, state, and local level should reward those seeking to get ahead.
Second, many middle class families are able to get by, but they have little margin for error -- largely because they face high costs for health care, energy, and higher education.
There are a number of simple reforms -- replace ObamaCare, expand domestic energy production, and reforming college accreditation to lower tuition costs -- Congress can make to help in this regard.
Unfortunately, the President's proposals -- doubling down on ObamaCare, supporting cap-and-trade, and rewarding colleges for raising tuition -- will only exacerbate these problems.
Finally, the growth of the scope and power of the federal government has created a system of artificial privilege in which those businesses which are politically connected in Washington get policy twisted in their favor at the expense of would-be competitors and consumers.
Given this state of affairs, it is no accident that six of the 10 wealthiest counties in the entire country are in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Congress should pass welfare reform and should start with corporate welfare reform.
3. Foreign Affairs
During the 2012 presidential campaign, the President used to brag about he "decimated" Al Qaeda; now he says he has degraded the "core" leadership of Al Qaeda, which is an attempt to redefine success given the dramatic expansion of Al Qaeda fighters throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The bottom line is that Al Qaeda has a larger footprint today than at any time since 9/11/2001.
Also, the President pledged to veto additional sanctions against Iran even though these sanctions are supported by huge bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress. Iran is likely to construe the relaxation of sanctions as a sign of weakness, and will likely be emboldened to continue the pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Finally, I have been a frequent critic of the President for failing to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" as is required by the Constitution. Some have sought to justify the President's actions by citing the record of previous presidents and the number of executive orders they have issued (which for recent presidents has been more than those issued by Obama).
The problem with this is not the number of executive orders issued; it is whether the executive actions are proper in the first place.
An executive order can legitimately be issued vis-a-vis the operations of the executive branch, but the executive cannot issue edicts that apply to the public at large without any basis in law and cannot alter or suspend laws already enacted.
On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee questioned Attorney General Eric Holder about the constitutional basis for President Obama's recent actions. Holder's responses were insufficient (Watch the video posted above).
This week, I introduced the Faithful Execution of the Law Act, which would expand current law by requiring executive branch officials to inform Congress when an executive branch official refuses to enforce a federal statute, whether it be for constitutional reasons or policy reasons.
Under current law the Attorney General is required to inform Congress when the executive branch stops enforcing a law due to constitutional concerns.
As can be seen from Holder's answers, more transparency is needed in this regard.