How far will congressional Republicans retreat to avoid a confrontation with Barack Obama?
President Obama has made clear his path to re-election. He plans to run against Congress and — by seizing unconstitutional powers — go about governing this year with or without the legislative action required by the Constitution. He’ll issue executive orders, have his bureaucracy regulate as may please his ideology, and generally do whatever else he can get away with.
Obama apparently thinks he can get away with a lot, and judging by the response of the Republican congressional leaders to his actions last week, he’s probably right.
Obama took constitutionally-irreconcilable actions last Wednesday by making four “recess appointments,” three to the National Labor Relations Board and one to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a regulatory monstrosity created by the ill-conceived Dodd-Frank financial “reform” act.
Obama announced the four “recess appointments” purporting to exercise his power to do so under Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution. But — according to Article 1, Section 5 — the Senate was not in recess because it hadn’t obtained permission from the House to adjourn for more than three days and because the Senate was in de facto session. (This is the same congressional maneuver that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi repeatedly used to prevent George Bush from making recess appointments.)
The difference is that Bush obeyed the Constitutional limits and Obama flaunts his violation of them.
The question for congressional Republicans is that which the Sean Connery character, Malone, asked Kevin Costner’s Elliot Ness in The Untouchables: what are you prepared to do? The unfortunate answer is that congressional Republicans aren’t prepared to do what is necessary to rein in a president who is behaving as if he were the imperial president the media shiver about whenever a Republican is in office.
Who is going to take the necessary actions to void Obama’s appointments?
The courts can’t on their own, because they have no power to bring cases up themselves and adjudicate them to their own satisfaction.
The House and the Senate each have the power — and the duty — to block or overturn a president’s unconstitutional action.
The House’s only real power is the power of the purse. It can cut off funding for anything it wants to stop the Executive Branch from doing. But it can’t and won’t because its leadership lacks the courage to stand their ground after the first whiff of the grapeshot.
The payroll tax cut debacle is only the latest evidence. Republicans didn’t want to discontinue the cut. They only wanted to prevent paying for it by tax hikes. Speaker Boehner decided to take a firm stand against such tax hikes and make an issue of it. But when it came down to the wire, he made a deal and then couldn’t get his membership to back it.
House Republicans could clearly bar any funding for NLRB’s and CPFB’s activities. But the White House and Senate Dems will include that funding in yet another “must pass” bill, such as another debt ceiling hike or a “continuing resolution” that funds the whole government.
There will be another Obama-manufactured crisis. The House Repubs will have to threaten to shut down the government and actually do it in order to stop these activities. But they so fear the blame for a shutdown, they’ll cave again. And again, and again.
The courts could overturn Obama’s illegal “recess appointments” but before a case can come before the courts, our legal system imposes a couple of requirements. First, that there is one: a “case or controversy” over which the court has jurisdiction. This excludes purely political questions, but also clearly includes questions of whether an Executive Action is unconstitutional. The second is that the party bringing the suit has “standing to sue.” That means if ol’ drunk Joe bashes his pickup into your car, I can’t sue for damages because I can’t sue for damages to a car I don’t own.
Which leaves us with the question of whose car was wrecked by Obama’s careening “recess appointments” truck? Companies who are subjected to the CPFB regulations could, but only after the regs are issued and their damaging effects can be proved in court. Until then, only the Senate Republicans whose constitutional authority was damaged can act. And that’s the problem.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online