Today in Liberty: Looks Obamacare’s employer mandate will take effect, House lawsuit against Obama moves closer to a vote

“Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent.” — H. L. Mencken

— No additional employer mandate delays…for now: For reals this time, yo. After two significant, politically-motivated enforcement delays, the Obama administration appears ready to begin enforcement of a very scaled-back employer mandate. “The IRS posted drafts of the forms that employers will have to fill out to comply with the Obamacare requirement that employers provide health insurance to workers,” Politico notes. “An administration official said the White House is sticking to the timeline announced earlier this year. Companies with 50 to 99 employees will have another year — until 2016 — to start the coverage. Companies with 100 or more employees do have to comply next year, although they have two years to phase up so that they are covering 95 percent of their workers. Smaller businesses are exempt.” There was some speculation earlier this week that the administration would consider delaying the mandate once again before it takes effect at the beginning of the year. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. But, really, the version of the provision that’s being implemented in the short-term is pretty much meaningless. What the administration does next year — before 2016, an election year, when the exemptions to the employer mandate end — will be interesting to watch.

— Authorization for lawsuit against Obama moves in the House: The House Rules Committee approved the resolution (H. Res. 676) authorizing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama over his abuse of executive power. “This lawsuit is a much needed defense of the Constitution and a defense of the role of Congress in our government,” Chairman Pete Sessions said in his opening statement at the hearing. “If we do not act, our nation will continue to face the very threat that the Constitution is designed to avoid.” The resolution alludes to the unilateral executive and administration actions taken to implement Obamacare as the basis for the lawsuit. Democrats, of course, immediately sent out a fundraising email to supporters (the first of five we received) warning that the lawsuit “could be a massive roadblock for the President’s second term agenda.”

— House lawsuit is about winning Americans’ minds: Many pundits, conservative and progressive alike, have panned the House lawsuit because of the legal hurdles it faces. But, then again, maybe winning in the courtroom isn’t the point. “[F]iling the lawsuit has already been an effective way of getting the media to convey a sense to the American public that Obama has been stretching the limits of his power. By announcing that he was filing a suit, but not announcing what the suit would include, Boehner got the media talking about all the possible executive overreaches that might form the basis of the suit, precisely the public discourse he wants to foster,” Cornell law professor Josh Chafetz writes at The Hill. “News of the suit provoked a response from the president, which was good for a few more news cycles. Boehner then announced the actual basis for the suit, which was good for a few more news cycles. Ditto for when the full House votes to authorize it, and again when he actually files the suit.” Chafetz says the lawsuit could also keep some House Republicans in line, placating them enough to avoid articles of impeachment.

— Rand Paul to speak at the National Urban League conference today: And it sounds like the Kentucky Republican will place a very heavy emphasis on school choice. “I’ll say this in my speech [to the National Urban League]: ‘Look, I grew up and went to public schools. My kids have gone to public schools. But, frankly, not all public schools are equal,” Paul said, according to Politico. “[W]e can’t just allow the status quo to go on, where some public schools are just incompetent, and kids are not really getting an education.” He’ll also talk about reforming the criminal justice system and restoring felon voting rights to felons who’ve paid their debt to society, issues on which he’s sought bipartisan compromise.

— Oh, and Paul is headed back to Iowa: Rand Paul will visit Iowa from August 4-6 to help the Iowa Republican Party open “victory offices” to boost Joni Ernst’s Senate candidacy. “I am thrilled to come back to Iowa,” Paul said in a press release. “Taking back the majority in the U.S. Senate hinges on Iowa, and we must work tirelessly to elect great candidates all across the state. I look forward to doing my part to ensure that Iowa sends strong conservatives to Washington.” He’s slated for talks at victory offices in five Iowa towns, including Council Bluffs, Sioux City, and Cedar Rapids. He’ll also appear at a fundraiser for Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and headline at a breakfast fundraiser for the Cerro Gordo County GOP. Iowa will, of course, play an important role in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, but the GOP has a real shot at picking up the open Senate seat in this year’s mid-term election.

— Asset forfeiture reform legislation filed in the Senate: Seriously, we didn’t mean for this Today in Liberty to be all Rand Paul, but he did introduce a new piece of legislation this week and we got the press release from his Senate office Thursday afternoon. The Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act (S. 2644) would protect Americans’ due process rights against asset forfeiture. “The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime,” Paul said in the press release. “The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime.” The FAIR Act has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

— House Oversight to hold a hearing on corruption at Ex-Im: The allegations of corruption at the Export-Import Bank got the attention of Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will look into the matter at a hearing next week. Issa subpoenaed Johnny Gutierrez, an Ex-Im official who allegedly accepted payments to help a Florida-based company receive funding from the Bank, to appear at the hearing. “The recently reported allegations against Mr. Gutierrez are extremely serious and shake the very core of the taxpayer funded Ex-Im Bank,” Issa said in a press release. “Congress needs to know exactly what occurred in this corruption scheme and will learn from both Mr. Gutierrez and Ex-Im Bank Chairman [Fred] Hochberg what actions the bank is taking to ensure that the organization will eradicate this culture of corruption. Gutierrez, by the way, was subpoenaed because he wouldn’t appear voluntarily.

— Audit the Fed clears committee: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee gave the Federal Reserve Transparency Act (H.R. 24) its stamp of approval yesterday. “I am pleased by the recent efforts made by House leadership to advance my Audit the Fed bill through the legislative process. [Thursday’s] markup takes us one step closer towards a vote before the full House and bringing much-needed transparency to our nation’s monetary policy,” said Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), the bill’s primary sponsor. “Not only is H.R. 24 one of the most important pieces of legislation pending in this Congress,  but it is also highly likely to pass the House with a strong bipartisan vote.” Campaign for Liberty also hailed the committee’s action and “urge[d] House leadership to swiftly bring Audit the Fed to the House floor for a vote before August recess.” The House Financial Services Committee also has jurisdiction over the Audit the Fed bill and it hasn’t yet moved on the measure.

— Compromise NSA legislation is coming: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will rollout compromise legislation to reform the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs. “Despite reports that the bill could be revealed this week, people familiar with the discussions said Leahy will actually release the compromise legislation as early as Tuesday,” The Hill reports. “Earlier this week, an aide said conversations had turned a corner and they were ‘within inches‘ of an agreement.” Leahy, who has been working on the legislation with the Obama administration, says the compromise will “clear cut guidelines of what [intelligence agencies] can and cannot do” and will protect Americans’ privacy.

— Justin Amash is going to win: Because, as it turns out, voters in Michigan’s Third Congressional District really like his willingness to take on the Washington political establishment, including milquetoast Republican leaders and Big Business cronies. “[D]espite a spirited challenge from self-funding businessman Brian Ellis (R), it looks like Amash will win his Aug. 5 primary,” The Hill notes. “Polls show the congressman ahead by a comfortable margin, and although outside groups have come in big for Amash, no one has spent heavily on Ellis’s behalf.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Ellis last week. Amash, however, has a 23-point lead, according to the most recent poll.

— What will John Roberts do?: That’s the question being asked by conservatives and libertarians after dueling appellate court decisions (Halbig v. Burwell and King v. Burwell) over the IRS rules allowing Obamacare subsidies to be distributed to consumers in states that opted not to create their own Exchanges. “[U]nfortunately for the heath care law’s many opponents, the specter of judicial deference still haunts this latest Obamacare battle. According to the Supreme Court’s 1984 precedent in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, when the federal courts are confronted with an “ambiguous” statute, the default position is for the courts to defer to the judgment of the agency charged with enforcing that statute,” Damon Root explains at Reason. “Is the health care law clear or is it not? And if it’s not, is the I.R.S. entitled to broad deference under Chevron? Those are the questions the Supreme Court will face if (when?) it agrees to hear one or both of these cases on appeal. As for Chief Justice John Roberts, here’s what he had to say about the importance of judicial deference in his 2012 health care opinion: ‘It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.’”

— NLRB hands Big Labor a lifeline: Basically, even if a majority of workers at a particular employer aren’t interested, a labor union can still work its way by organizing a “micro union,” because when you can’t win, you’ve got to run to the labor-friendly National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). “In a case involving a Macy’s department store cosmetics counter, the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday further expanded its recent precedents allowing for so-called ‘micro-unions,’” the Washington Examiner explains. “The ruling will make it easier for unions to organize individual parts of an employer’s workforce, a strategy Big Labor is increasingly turning towards to bolster its sagging membership.”

— Well, this is an absolutely terrible idea: Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) wants to raise the dollar-level at which at a farm is considered to be a small business. Rebekah Johansen at the Coalition to Reduce Spending is having none of that. “Farm aid, originally intended to help struggling family farmers, now sets $750,000 or less as the standard by which a farm is considered ‘small’ enough for federal aid,” writes Johansen. “And Representatives want to raise that level. As if we needed to ask why we have a spending crisis.” The average farmer, by the way, is a millionaire, which begs the question: why are taxpayers subsidizing them?

— United Liberty on The Right War: UL editor Jason Pye joined Liz and Taylor last night on FTR Radio’s The Right War. The trio chatted about guns, libertarianism, political messaging, and much more. You can listen to the show here.

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