It's hard to think of another Cabinet secretary in recent memory who's been as hostile to part of his duties as Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price is to overseeing the Affordable Care Act. Most new administrations come in with some reservations about their predecessors' policy decisions and aim to nudge things in a new direction — but that's hardly the same thing as producing PR materials attacking a law you're supposed to be implementing, while reportedly using money set aside to promote that program.
"If you believe in the rule of law, then those reservations notwithstanding, the executive branch has a duty to execute the laws," said William Galston, who served in the early days of the Clinton administration and now chairs the governance studies program at the Brookings Institution.
Why it matters: Now that the Senate is moving on from the failed repeal effort, the future of the ACA is in Price's hands. And even though Price insisted this weekend that "our job is to follow the law of the land," the ACA isn't going to thrive under hostile leadership. More from Sam here.
- Democrats never loved Medicare Advantage, the partially privatized program created under the George W. Bush administration, and didn't love the structure of Medicare's prescription-drug benefit, either.
- But when President Obama came into office, his administration carried out those programs relatively normally.
- The closest parallel, Galston said, would be the tug-of-war between administrations at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been sued in the past for refusing to carry out responsibilities it had been tasked with. If Price goes that far, he also could face the threat of legal action.