Anyone want to float a theory as to why? We all understand that they don’t much care about the suit and talked it up only for the benefit of suckers like you and me, who are outraged at Obama’s continued power grabs. Boehner needed a way to placate his base, if only to channel the anger so that it doesn’t veer towards impeachment demands. He doesn’t want to go down that road, especially with Republicans now set to control both chambers of Congress.
So the lawsuit was a political move, “boob bait” to get us excited before the election. But none of that explains why they’ve held off on filing it. What do they have to lose by following through?
Lawyers close to the process said they originally expected the legal challenge to be filed in September, but now they don’t expect any action before the elections.
Some attribute the delay to electoral politics — suggesting that Republicans were worried it could rile up the Democratic base — though the GOP is mum on why the suit has yet to be filed.
Whatever the reason, the delay means the core of the suit could effectively be moot before the Obama administration even has to respond to it in court. The case was expected to center on an employer mandate provision that Obama twice delayed but is now set to kick in for many employers on Jan. 1.
“I thought this was a constitutional crisis and the republic was in jeopardy because Obama overstepped his bounds. Now, they can’t even get around to filing it?” asked former House Counsel Stan Brand, a Democrat. “It, to me, emphasizes the not-serious nature of it.”
They were going to sue Obama for unlawfully delaying the employer mandate annnnnnd they waited so long to do it that the mandate will no longer be delayed by the time they file. That’s the sort of can-do, on-the-ball leadership in Washington that Republican voters have come to expect.
As for the lawsuit’s backfire potential, in which Democrats would use the filing of the suit as a midterm fundraising gimmick for their own base, I don’t see what’s stopping lefties from doing that now. Republicans have made hay of Obama’s plan to order an executive amnesty after the election even though O hasn’t actually done anything yet. The intention to act is sufficient to goose the base; the same is true, presumably, of Boehner’s lawsuit, which he’s said he intends to file. There’s nothing stopping some dope at the DNC from sending out an e-mail today warning faithful liberals that unless they send money ASAP, the king’s ability to illegally dictate policy might be tragically curtailed. But why would they want to delve into a comparatively obtuse issue like that when they could stick with “Republicans want white cops to shoot black children” messages instead?
Politico has other theories. One: Maybe the GOP is holding off because they want the suit to be taken seriously. If they file it now, it’ll be dismissed as an election gimmick and nothing more. Er, okay, but … it is an election gimmick (mostly). If they were worried about it being perceived that way, they wouldn’t have announced their intention to file suit before the midterms, right? They would have postponed the entire discussion until November. Two: From the GOP’s standpoint, if their midterm messaging ain’t broke, why fix it? They’re a favorite to take back the Senate as is; no sense rolling a grenade into the middle of that by filing the lawsuit. My point again, though, is that that grenade has essentially already been rolled. If Democrats want to make this an issue, they’ve already got Boehner’s pro-lawsuit rhetoric to use as the peg. They haven’t. My hunch is that it would be a one-day story, dismissed by most voters as evidence that O and the GOP are hopelessly at odds and nothing more. Besides, refusing to file the suit now might end up hurting Republicans with their own base. How excited are you for a new dawn of bold GOP leadership in Congress knowing that they’re afraid to bring a complaint that everyone understands is probably going nowhere in court anyway? Three: It turns out that David Rivkin, the lawyer retained by the GOP for this suit and one of the two authors (with Elizabeth Price Foley) who’ve pushed Congress to pioneer lawsuits against the president for overreach, backed out of the suit last month. Why? Quote: “Sources say his firm came under pressure from health care-related clients wary of being represented by a firm perceived as working to unravel Obamacare.” Forced to choose between protecting separation of powers and losing ObamaCare cronies’ big bucks, Rivkin’s firm allegedly made its choice. So maybe Boehner’s holding off to give the new lawyer time to get up to speed on the case. How much time would he need, though, simply to revise Rivkin’s complaint and then wait (probably for months) for a government answer?
I’m tempted to argue that maybe Boehner’s held off because he wants to use the lawsuit as some sort of bargaining chip against Obama, but that assumes that Obama cares about being sued. He doesn’t. Besides, Boehner could still use the suit as a chip even after it’s filed by agreeing to drop the case if O makes whatever concession he’s after. Likewise, I suppose it could be that Boehner’s waiting to see what Obama does on executive amnesty before filing the suit; legalizing six million illegals summarily would be an even more egregious case of overreach by O than delaying the employer mandate. But that assumes that Boehner and the GOP leadership want to have a big fight with Obama over amnesty. They don’t. On the contrary, Boehner doesn’t want to be perceived by Latino voters as trying to block O on “compassionate” measures for illegal immigrants. That’s the whole reason the House’s suit is aimed at the employer mandate and not immigration in the first place. So, long story short, I don’t understand why they’re waiting. My one longshot theory is that Boehner might worry that a judge would dismiss the House’s complaint very quickly, causing major embarrassment for the GOP right before the election. But even a “very quick” disposition of the case would take longer than a few months, right, litigators? In which case, there’s zero risk that a judge would rule before next Tuesday. I don’t get it.