The Dangers of Going it Alone

By Senator Mike Johanns

In last week’s address to the nation, President Obama defiantly touted his plans to circumvent Congress in pursuit of his personal agenda.  But ignoring Congress is ignoring the voices of the millions of Americans whom we represent.
Americans deserve a seat at the table, especially when decisions affecting so many are being made.  When that chair is pulled out from under engaged citizens, as the President said he’s prepared to do, the consequences can be enormous. We know because we’ve seen it before.
Obamacare, the President’s signature goal, was forced through Congress without a single Republican vote or the support of the millions we represent. The concerns of nearly half the country were ignored.  Today, millions of Americans are reminded of this every time they see reduced hours, increased premiums or are forced to find a new family doctor because of Obamacare. Despite efforts by the White House to downplay Obamacare’s costs, Americans continue to bear the brunt of a President who chose to turn a deaf ear to the voices of half the country.
In many instances, the President has ignored Congress entirely. In 2011, the President appointed people to two federal boards without constitutionally-required congressional approval. The President argued that he had the executive authority to do so, but several federal courts have disagreed.  In a few months, the Supreme Court will step in to sort out the mess created when the President sidestepped Congress.
President Obama’s tenure is also rife with examples of federal agencies stretching the authority granted by Congress. >From EPA’s backdoor attempts to impose cap and trade to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s recent attempts to regulate family farms, Congress has had to step in and pull on the reins.  An increasing tangle of red tape issued by the Administration continues to ensnare businesses, slowing job growth and economic recovery.
It doesn’t have to be this way.  Working together has proven far more effective.  For example, I introduced legislation to reduce Obamacare’s crippling paperwork burden on businesses.  I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and listened to a variety of perspectives and opinions.  In the end, the repeal of 1099 passed the Senate by a sweeping vote of 87-12. The bill, supported by many Democrats, also passed the House and was signed by the President, making it the first successful repeal of a provision in Obamacare.
Just last week, the Senate passed a bill I introduced with Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) to increase insurance options for consumers. This bill was part of broader legislation that passed with two-thirds of the Senate’s support—Republicans and Democrats.
Democracy only works when the people are given a voice.  Congress—a reflection of the views of the American people—should not be seen by the President as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity to work through a diverse set of views and opinions to find responsible solutions to our nation’s challenges. I invite the President to scrap his ‘my way or the highway’ approach and engage Congress to provide the quality of federal government the American people deserve.

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