The Amazing Presidential Power-Grab

American Thinker

With  little consternation or lasting opposition, the Obama administration has  dramatically usurped congressional power at the expense of popular will and the  rule of law.  Numerous dastardly bureaucratic coups — motivated by the  president’s progressive and political agenda — have amazingly failed to  engender a serious response.

What  began as a trickle of presidential power-grabs has turned into a cascade of  executive roguery.  A list of them is worth some review and  reflection:

  •   In June 2012, President Obama circumvented Congress’s refusal to pass the DREAM  Act by instituting a portion of it on his own. Through executive order, the  administration has directed federal officers to no longer deport large swathes  of younger illegal immigrants, with an inclusive  net that could impact over a million. Conservative sage Charles Krauthammer summed  it up pithily: “This is out-and-out lawlessness. You had a clip of the president  himself say[ing] months ago, ‘I cannot do this on my own because there are laws  on the books.’ Well, I have news for the president — the  laws remain on the books. They haven’t changed.”
  •   Earlier this month, the Obama administration quietly stripped away a central  component of the 1996 bipartisan welfare reform act — the lynchpin work  requirements — passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President  Clinton. The regulations allow states to  substitute education programs as “work” for their residents to enjoy welfare  benefits. Self-described “neo-liberal” pundit Mickey Kaus reacted  to the “surprising (and possibly illegal) attempt to grant waivers of the work  requirements” as follows:

A  great deal of effort was put into defining what qualified as work, and making  sure that work actually meant work and not the various BS activities (including  BS training activities) the welfare bureaucracies often preferred to substitute  for work[.] … To the extent the administration’s action erodes the actual and  perceived toughness of the work requirements, which it does, it sends the  opposite and wrong signal.

In  effect, the administration is taking the teeth out of the reform.  So long  as states believe that new methods might achieve employment goals in  the long run, the feds can approve the changes, and those not working can enjoy  sustained welfare benefits.  All this without consulting those charged with  actually making law.

  •   The so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA) is one mammoth legislative concession to  executive-branch lawmaking. The Act is hardly a law at all, but rather a series  of directives and mandates, providing the secretary of HHS (i.e., the Obama  administration) immeasurable power in implementing the Act’s policy aims. One  example from earlier this year is the HHS religious mandate, requiring employers  to include abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception in their  employee health insurance. The regulation  applies to religious institutions like Catholic hospitals, schools, and  charities — regardless of whether these institutions object to such services on  moral grounds. Want to find the portion of the 2,700-page bill that deals with  this issue? Good luck. It’s not there.
  •   Less publicized examples are numerous. The Wall Street Journal‘s  Kimberly Strassel, in a recent superb  column, outlined a laundry list a few weeks ago:

o   The president opposes a federal law  criminalizing medical marijuana.  No problem — he merely instructed his  Justice Department not to prosecute violators.

o   He disapproves of the federal Defense  of Marriage Act.  No need to work with Congress on repealing it — he  merely stopped defending it in court.

o   With no love for the federal No Child  Left Behind Act, he ordered his Education Department to issue waivers “that are  patently inconsistent with the statute.”

o   Congress falls  short of passing cap-and-trade?  The administration had the Environmental  Protection Agency enforce something similar though unilateral  regulations.

o   Congress demurred in taking up “net  neutrality” internet regulations, so the president’s Federal Communications  Commission did it instead.

This  list could go on.

When  presidents past overstepped constitutional or statutory boundaries, the Fourth  Estate would lecture on “imperial” presidencies.  For President Obama,  however, the media’s progressive core prompts compliments of bravery and  perseverance, while journalistic duty turns a blind eye to procedural  lawlessness.  One wonders what their reaction would have been had President  George W. Bush and his administration acted similarly.

Politically  combatting this lawlessness is difficult, as a public debate about procedural  malfeasance invariably morphs into disputes of the substantive policy itself.   Attempts to highlight procedural strong-arming are blurred by political  attacks — “wars” on women, immigrants, the poor, and the like.  It may  also be said by political strategists that when one argues about procedure, he  has already lost the policy debate.

Political  challenges, however, are no excuse for allowing this administration to peel away  constitutional checks and balances.  A coordinated effort by conservative  and Republican (big “R” and small) causes must be brought to bear to inform the  voting public on these knavish executive end-runs.  John Adam famously  warned that our Constitution sought “a government of laws and not of men.”   Process matters.  Our constitutional framework depends on  it.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/07/the_amazing_presidential_power-grab.html#ixzz22EmkirB2

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