The Trump administration has made no secret of their disdain for past leadership. Donald Trump literally rose to national political prominence in the years before his presidential run via taking on Barack Obama. That disdain, however, has now brought them face to face with the law.
The Government Accountability Office has concluded that the Department of Energy broke the law with a anti-Obamacare tweet they posted last summer. They ran afoul via the fact that they have no funding allocated for publicizing views on health care.
‘We find that Energy violated the purpose statute when it tweeted about the Secretary’s column because Energy did not show that its appropriation is available for the purpose of informing the public about health care legislation.’
The Department of Energy has insisted that they did not break the law because their area of authority includes research into some health care systems. According to DOE spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes, the agency’s own general counsel backed up that assertion, insisting that the “tweet covered issues well within the mission of the Department of Energy.” It linked to an opinion piece written by Energy Secretary Rick Perry. The piece was captioned:
‘Time to discard the burdens and costs of Obamacare.’
Despite the Energy Department’s counter to the GAO report, top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Frank Pallone Jr. rushed to criticize the Trump administration for its wanton dismissal of standards of operation in favor of pushing ideology.
‘This is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s illegal and unacceptable use of taxpayer funds for political gain.’
This is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s illegal and unacceptable use of taxpayer funds for political gain. https://t.co/Wi2wJEtIqe
— Rep. Frank Pallone (@FrankPallone) July 26, 2018
Pallone originally requested a report from the Government Accountability Office on the Energy Department’s anti-Obamcare messaging last year, he noted.
In the time since, plenty of examples have emerged of the Trump administration pushing their political ideology via taxpayer funds, as Pallone decried. One convenient example of that trend is the proposal for a U.S./Mexico border wall, which would cost tens of billions of dollars and remains a reality detached endeavor. On a more personal front, Trump has also continued to use government funds for vacations to his golf courses.
Through all of these issues, the Trump administration and its allied Republicans in Congress have made going after Obamacare a top priority, although their efforts to repeal it entirely failed.
In the absence of an entire repeal, Republicans have opted to pick away at the law. In the massive tax reform plan passed last year, Republicans ended penalties for those who don’t have health care. More recently — just this week, actually — the U.S. House voted to kill an Obamacare driven tax on medical devices that is set to take effect in 2020.
Pushing off that tax was included in a deal that reopened the government this past January. The tax was originally meant to help pay for the health coverage the government would be providing via the Affordable Care Act through Medicaid expansion and the like. Whether the tax will actually be repealed remains uncertain, as there is no immediately clear path forward for the repeal in the Senate.
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