Executive Overreach In The Obama Administration

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending a blogging conference put on by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. On the docket for these sessions were several engaging and informative speakers who covered some of the issues conservatives ought to focus on in the months before the election.

These have the potential to draw blood against a flagging Democratic Party, and further diminish the clout of President Barack Obama, who has shown no hesitation to use parliamentary or regulatory chicanery to get what he wants.

Not least among the distressing, clinically narcissistic tendencies of our President is his seeming disregard for the particulars of the Constitution he swore to uphold. While the Former-Constitutional-Law-Professor-in-Chief enjoyed some early success for his liberal agenda with the aid of a compliant House and Senate, he has had to rely on other means to advance his policies since the Republicans retook the house in 2010.

Alas, a divided Congress did not come about in time to prevent the passage of Obamacare. As has been obvious since its disastrous implementation, the bill that was passed was not ready for primetime. Why might it have been passed when it contained so many errors, contradictions, and unworkable mandates? As Phil Kerpen noted in his presentation at the conference, Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts (of all places) forced the administration’s hand.

They had to move forward with the bill as it was – really more of a discussion draft – because the voters had sent the Democrats a pretty firm message that they should think about tapping the brakes a bit. Did they heed the will of the people? Obviously not. They pushed it through, pedal to the metal. While they paid an electoral price for it, the damage was done. They passed the bill, and boy! Have we found out what was in it.

These short years later, it is no longer feasible to spin the law as anything other than an unworkable and ill-considered crapstorm. And so Mr. Obama developed a heretofore unknown ability to unilaterally extend deadlines and make other changes to the law on an ad hoc basis, without the approval of Congress. Funny enough, these changes seem to always benefit the Democrats and defer the painful aspects of the bill until some election or other has passed. I’m not sure what the word for this is, but it’s certainly not “lawful.”

If the law’s so great, why not just enact it? So far, the only discernible answer has been a very clear:

“Shut up, that’s why not.”

One worries that if the matter is pressed too strongly the government may gift the offender with a timely audit for their trouble.

Sad to say, the Executive overreach on display is in keeping with a long tradition of Presidential boundary-stretching. Take recess appointments. Mr. Obama has been particularly bold in claiming that he can determine when the Senate is or is not in session, but these mental gymnastics would not be possible without the contributions of previous Presidents. The Democrats just whined more when Bush did it. This isn’t to excuse Mr. Obama’s egregious runaround of the law and his misuse of executive authority, but it’s only fair to note he couldn’t have gotten here by himself.

The “good news” is that now people are able to see firsthand how ruinous and disruptive these progressive pipedreams can be. They are asking questions. They are waking up to what conservatives have been trying to tell them for years. People who have lost their insurance; who are paying more (at a time when other commodities like bread and milk continue to rise); who can’t find work because employers are cautious – these are all people who may be more predisposed to listen to the conservative alternative.

This doesn’t mean getting bogged down in minutiae: graphs, charts, facts, figures.

Those help, but don’t tell the whole story.

It’s up to us to take what we know, and speak to the people who are hurting, and offer them the hope of a better way. That can start with bloggers, and reporters, and even on Twitter. We can start the conversations, and if what we say resonates then it will be echoed in the mouths of people who may not ever have laid eyes on the Internet.