by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jay Cost explains at National Review Online why he supports one of President Trump’s recent actions while firmly opposing another.
These days, it is hard to be a constitutionalist. Our system of government is under attack from both the left and the right.
Progressives are gnashing their teeth over President Trump’s executive order cutting federal subsidies to insurance companies. This, they argue, will raise the costs of insurance and perhaps facilitate the collapse of the Obamacare marketplaces. What they overlook is that the subsidies were almost certain to be struck down by the Supreme Court, and for very good reason. Under the constitutional order, it is Congress that is tasked with appropriating money, and President Obama had no right to offer the subsidies in the first place.
Some conservatives, meanwhile, are cheering over President Trump’s recent attacks on the press. Last week, he tweeted, “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” Never mind that the national networks do not themselves possess broadcast licenses — instead, local affiliates do. This demonstrates profound disrespect for the First Amendment right to a free press, which Trump has never been a particularly stout advocate of. During the presidential primaries last year, after all, he talked about tightening up libel laws against journalists reporting on celebrities.
What both progressives and conservatives are doing is sacrificing a commitment to the rules of our political system for a short-term policy or for political gain. This is incredibly short-sighted.