DECKER: Beware Obama’s executive fiat
White House plans to circumvent Congress to spend more
It’s official: President Obama is presiding over the worst era of unemployment in U.S. history since this nation was embroiled in World War II. On Friday, it was announced zero net jobs were created nationwide in the whole month of August. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stammered, “I do believe that we’re going in the right direction, but we need cooperation and it begins with members of the House and the Senate agreeing to do something now.” Going in the right direction? It’s a perfect admission of the cluelessness of this White House that the head of the Labor Department thinks zero new jobs and a permanent unemployment rate above 9 percent mean the country is headed the right way.
The second half of the secretary’s statement is important too and delivers an important warning. Ms. Solis passed the buck for America’s doldrums and blamed our dire fiscal situation on congressional inaction. Congress must “do something now,” she insisted. Of course, legislative consensus is unlikely because the Senate is controlled by liberal Democrats who are pushing more deficit spending, while the House is run by conservative Republicans dedicated to cutting spending and taxes to jumpstart private-sector growth. This logjam on Capitol Hill tempts the executive branch to take supra-constitutional action. In other words, since the Senate and House of Representatives can’t get their act together and agree on anything, the president will have to step in and take extraordinary action himself. This spin will be used as pretext for Mr. Obama to overreach his power to issue executive orders that will accomplish only one thing: waste more taxpayer money that will do more long-term damage to the economy.
In White House talking points leaked to The Washington Times by an executive-branch employee, administration officials are told what to say to the press and the public about Mr. Obama’s Sept. 8 speech to a Joint Session of Congress. The document is devoid of specifics, which will be proclaimed from the podium on Thursday, but it does say that ideas announced to “provide economic security for the middle class … will be both legislative and executive actions.” The key words are the last two: executive actions. This is a tacit acknowledgment that the president is planning to take unilateral action to force through what he cannot get a divided Congress to do.
Mr. Obama has a profound resistance to the Constitution’s separation of powers, whereby the legislature is the lawmaking body and the executive branch implements the laws passed on the other side of Pennsylvania Ave. He’s overstepped his bounds on numerous issues already, ignoring the law to further his liberal agenda through federal agencies. Oppressive environmental regulations against businesses and property owners jump to mind.
“We need to lock arms, reach across the aisle and start acting as one community,” the kumbaya White House marching orders say. Propaganda aside, a panicking Obama administration will be less collaborative than ever in the days ahead.
Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the forthcoming book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, November 2011).