President Obama, a lame-duck president through and through, took the lazy route (also known as the unconstitutional route) for operating the executive branch. Rather than forge legislative consensus, or work across the aisle to find common ground, or build relationships and coalitions with lawmakers, or even just attempt to do any of that stuff, the president has decided that he’d rather just use an executive order to get something done.
On Friday night House Republicans approved a $694 million package that aims to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border for the remainder of the budget bill. The legislation includes $70 million for the National Guard, $400 million for the Department of Homeland Security boost security along the U.S.-Mexico border, and $200 million for humanitarian assistance. Perhaps most critically, it closes a loophole in a 2008 anti-human trafficking law that prevented children entering the country alone from Central American countries from being returned to their home country. Children from these nations will now be treated the same as those from Canada and Mexico.
Almost immediately the White House and Democrat-led Senate declared the solution dead on arrival.
After declaring the House bill a nonstarter, President Obama took the opportunity to declare that he’s suddenly interested in fixing the situation at the border.
“I’m going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge, with or without Congress,” Obama said Friday.
“I’m going to have to act alone, because we don’t have enough resources,” he later added, seemingly unaware that the House was giving him hundreds of millions of dollars to address the problem.
Speaker John Boehner made sure to point out the hypocrisy of the White House’s stunt.
“If President Obama needs these resources, he will urge Senate Democrats to put politics aside, come back to work, and approve our bill,” Boehner said. “There are also steps the president can take to address this crisis within the law, and without further legislative action. Every day the president and his party fail to act is another day this crisis continues.”
Unfortunately, this president’s definition of “acting” is to operate outside of the legislative process, or the law for that matter. Rather than mediate between the House, which passed a bill, and the Senate, which failed to act before taking off on their summer vacation, the president opts to go his own way.
President Obama, who in a former life was a constitutional law professor, should know better. He should know how important the separation of powers is to a fragile democratic republic. Instead, the president has chosen to laugh off Republican’s concerns as lawyerly silliness. He’s attempting to re-write the constitution with jokes.
“Stop bein’ mad all the time. Stop hatin’ all the time,” Obama urged the GOP.
After chuckling, the president added, “I’ve only got a couple years left, let’s get some word done. Then you can get mad at the next president.”
This has left some conservative pundits to ponder what would happen if the roles were reversed. Yuval Levin writes for National Review:
Let’s imagine that a Republican wins the presidency in 2016, and that Republicans have a majority in the House while Democrats have a majority in the Senate. And let’s say the president and House Republicans try to lower everyone’s personal income-tax rates by 10 percent. The House manages to pass a bill to enact such an across-the-board cut, but Senate Democrats kill it. And let’s imagine that the president then proceeds to announce that, given how helpful he believes his preferred course of action would be to the economy, he will just implement the rate cut himself: His administration will not enforce any legal penalties against people in the 35 percent bracket who only pay a 25 percent tax on their incomes, people in the 25 percent bracket who only pay 15 percent, and so on.
Something tells me Democrats would cry bloody murder and the media would have a coronary. And that’s exactly what should happen when one man seeks to unilaterally change the constitution. So why isn’t it happening now?