By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
LINCOLN, Neb. – A campaign video by U.S. Senate candidate Ben Sasse, in which in he accuses President Obama of provoking a constitutional crisis, has gone viral.
The impetutus for the crisis, the Republican Sasse says, is Obama’s decision to allow insurance companies to extend plans that were set to terminate in 2014.
“What the president has done is outrageous, it is illegal and it is unconstitutional,” Sasse says in the video, which racked up 270,000 views in fewer than 48 hours after being quickly picked up by the Drudge Report.
During a Thursday news conference, Obama apologized again for the fumbled rollout of Healthcare.gov, the website where Americans can shop for new insurance plans if they’re uninsured or if their individual health insurance plans are terminated because they don’t comply with new mandates. He offered to let insurers extend the plans for a year.
After holding a town hall meeting in Imperial, Neb., Sasse quickly responded with a video, saying he was “frightened” by the president’s “supposed fix,” noting even former presidential candidate Howard Dean questioned whether Obama had the legal authority to offer a one-year reprieve.
“The president did not actually fix anything, but he did provoke a constitutional crisis,” Sasse says on the video. “Understand, President Obama cannot legally do what he proposed to do yesterday and the media let him get away with claiming. He can’t fix part of a law that he doesn’t like by fiat. Our president is not a king. He doesn’t get to make decrees. He doesn’t even have a line-item veto under our current system of government. The only branch of government under our constitution that has any power to change this law is the Congress.”
Sasse said the Obamacare debate is no longer just about health care, but has “morphed into a battle over transforming our system of separate, coequal branches of government” and whether Congress will cede its constitutional power to a “runaway executive branch.”
Sasse contends Obama “can’t change parts of law he finds inconvenient now for political purposes.”
“If he had this kind of power, what’s to stop him from mandating what kind of cream we must take in our coffee?” Sasse continues on the video. “Or mandating or expanding the individual mandate to require us to join certain kinds of gyms?”
Sasse challenged Republicans in Congress to demand that the health-care law be “repealed and start over” and refuse to be part of an “unconstitutional attempt to prop up this bad law.”
Another Senate candidate, Omaha attorney Bart McLeay, said he doesn’t think Obama’s Thursday statement would constitute a violation of the Constitution, but he thinks the Obama administration has overstepped its bounds and created an unenforceable law with numerous waivers.
“The president has effectively gutted the statutes and, in doing so, has usurped the role of the Congress,” McLeay said. “That can create a constitutional crisis.”
The campaign manager for Sasse’s chief opponent, former State Treasurer Shane Osborn, said he noticed “Ben’s beltway buddies posted his latest video to Drudge.”
“Fiat is a big word but it doesn’t take the place of his past actions,” Bill Novotny said via email.
Sasse has made his opposition to Obamacare the centerpiece of his Senate campaign, but critics have questioned his resolve based on his past writings and speeches. In a 2010 column, Sasse suggested the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance might be a good idea, he supported the prescription drug benefit Medicare Part D when he was assistant secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush and, in 2010, said Republicans didn’t have the votes to repeal or defund Obamacare and called the law an “important first step” in thinking about health care coverage.
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