Eight years of the Obama administration are about to come to a close. When he came into office, President Obama had been dealt a bad hand. The economy was in a shambles. The financial meltdown had....
Eight years of the Obama administration are about to come to a close. When he came into office, President Obama had been dealt a bad hand. The economy was in a shambles. The financial meltdown had forced the country into deep recession. There was a real chance that we could slip into severe recession.
The president and Congress, then controlled by the Democrats, leapt into action. They continued the policies started in the last days of the Bush administration to bail out the banks. They moved to prevent the collapse of the U.S. auto industry and they began to push through legislation to fundamentally change the U.S. economy.
Two very major pieces of legislation were passed in those early years, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and the Dodd-Frank Act, which severely changed banking and investment in the country. Both these pieces of legislation were passed on a partisan basis. There was nothing approaching a consensus.
The result, of course, was the rise of the Tea Party and the loss of control of first the House of Representatives and later the Senate by the Democrats. It also was the beginning of the virulent divisiveness which has reached new heights during the presidential campaign.
I’m covering all this history because this era of divisiveness has resulted in more than just an increasing coarseness in dialogue. It also has led to a fundamental change in the way we are governed.
So the folks who run Congress, the Republicans, have consistently refused to enact legislation suggested by the president and the president has consistently refused to sign legislation passed by Congress. Stalemate.
Well, normally it would be stalemate but the Obama administration came up with a great end-around. If Congress won’t pass what’s needed, we’ll just do it anyway. Or as President Obama notoriously said, “We're not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we're providing Americans the kind of help they need.”
In essence, the president said that if Congress would not do what he wanted, he would consider them irrelevant and he would do what he thought was needed. And that is exactly what he has done, by unleashing a series of wide-reaching executive orders.
It is not true that President Obama has issued more executive orders that anyone else. In fact, both the Clinton and Bush II administrations issued more executive orders than the Obama administration. What differentiates the Obama administration is how far reaching these orders are and how often they are in direct contradiction to the will of Congress. It is an amazingly brazen usurpation of power.
The Obama administration has used executive orders to issue many environmental, labor, health and immigration regulations that Congress had refused. Many of these regulations have had very adverse effects on business. Because they are issued by decree rather than through the normal legislative process, little thought has been given to their consequences. They are very one-sided.
Whether or not you agree with President Obama’s intent in all or some of these executive orders, the manner in which they have been implemented is very troubling. The Constitution was written to give Congress primacy. It is the originator of laws. It has sole authority to tax and to spend. It is the only branch of government that can declare war. The president, any president, should not be able to simply decree what they want.
The new Trump administration should move immediately to overturn these executive orders. Not only are they opposed to our very form of government but they also provide a dangerous precedent that the Trump administration should not be tempted to use itself.