President Obama officially declared Congress irrelevant on Monday. Instead of following the proper legislative process, he’s going to rule by executive orders issued once per week for the rest of the year. “We don’t have to wait for Congress, we’re just going to go ahead and act on our own,” said Mr. Obama.
The president is upset that his Democratic Senate balked at his $467 billion American Jobs Act both as a whole and broken up into smaller tax-and-stimulus bills. So he’s going to bypass democracy and try to rule by fiat.
First up, he signed an executive directive expanding the power of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored twins responsible for kicking off the Great Recession. Later in the week, he will announce measures to change the terms of paying off student-loan debt.
“This president has the authority to take actions like this, and the ones he’s taken on No Child Left Behind, on payments to businesses doing work with the federal government,” explained White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Capitol Hill is ready to check the shift of control toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. House Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel said, “Rather than try to ignore the constitutional separation of powers by focusing only on executive orders, a better approach would be for the president to work with Republicans on solid, sustainable pro-growth policies that get our economy moving again and create jobs.”
Democrats ramming through big liberal programs was a major reason Republicans took back the House in 2010. “The Democrat-controlled Congress gave him nearly everything he wanted over the first two years of his administration, and we’re stuck with a health care bill Americans don’t want, 1.5 million fewer jobs and an economy that even the president says is in bad shape,” reminded Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s no surprise that the American people wanted a Congress that wasn’t in such a giving mood with other people’s money.”
Mr. Obama has issued 95 executive orders so far, no more than other modern presidents, but scholars say he is taking it much further now.
“He’s doing something a whole sequence of presidents have done without legislative support,” said Dickinson College professor Andrew Rudalevige, author of “The New Imperial Presidency” (University of Michigan Press, 2005). “But it’s more blatant and partisan than usual with the organized roll out.”
Todd Gaziano, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, pointed out that releasing the orders one at a time raises questions. “If these are legal and would significantly help the economy, it raises a question about his competence for not issuing them all at once and doing it a year or two ago,” he said. “It leads me to believe that these executive orders are either much more questionable legally or much less effective than they purport to be.”
Mr. Obama’s new slogan is, “We can’t wait.” Unfortunately for him, the Constitution says he has to. If Mr. Obama wants to enact a far-left agenda, he’s going to have to convince the public to send him a majority in the House. Otherwise, this is a constitutional showdown Republicans in Congress need to win.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.