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November 18, 2014

Should Republicans Adopt "The Obama Rule" Of Executive Governance?

Short version: No.

Longer version:

There's a debate going on over how the GOP should best respond if Obama goes through with his extra-Constitutional power grab to legalize millions of illegal aliens.

Charles Cooke argues that embracing Obama's view of unlimited executive power will lead to some very dark places we don't want to go.

I am afraid that I consider this approach to be little short of suicidal, and I can under no circumstances look forward to a system in which the executive may pick and choose which laws he is prepared to enforce. On the contrary: I consider the idea to be a grave and a disastrous one, and I would propose that any such change is likely to usher in chaos at first and then to incite a slow, tragic descent into the monarchy and caprice that our ancestors spent so long trying to escape. During the last 500 years or so, the primary question that has faced the Anglo-American polities has been whether the executive or the legislature is to be the key proprietor of domestic power. In one form or another, this query informed both the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution that followed it, and it was at the root of the Revolution in America. Cast your eyes across the Declaration of Independence and you will notice that the majority of the “long train of abuses and usurpations” have to do with the violation of the rights of assemblies by individuals who believe themselves to be the dominant arbiter of the state’s affairs.

...

Sean Trende is absolutely correct when he maintains that constitutional “norms” are nigh on impossible to retrieve once they have been abandoned. But, far from providing a justification for surrender, this is precisely why conservatives should refuse to “shrug” their shoulders and wait patiently for revenge.

Embracing the "fight fire with fire" position in The Federalist is Gabe.

Cooke thus needs to face a hard truth: Obama will probably get away with his super-DACA, just like he got away with DACA and with the Obamacare delays. The constitutional mechanism to stop him—impeachment and conviction—has largely atrophied, and in any case, the incoming Senate would never have the votes to convict. The political mechanism to stop him—holding government funding hostage against Obama’s good behavior—will be a repeat of the failed shutdown strategy of 2013. And the legal mechanism to respond—Speaker Boehner’s still unfiled lawsuit premised on the concept of legislative standing—is a long shot, at best.

...

Instead, because they cannot be reasoned with, Democrats must be shown the error of their ways. There will be no faster route to squealing outrage from the Left than applying the Obama Rule to one of their beloved federal programs. I particularly favor selective enforcement of the Clean Air Act to relieve the regulatory burden on businesses as the most likely candidate to induce Democrats to immediately repudiate the Obama Rule, but I think the case can be made for broad tax reforms as an alternative, particularly if there is resistance to such reforms in Congress. Just as Obama instructed the Treasury Department not to enforce the Obamacare reporting requirement for employers, the next Republican president could instruct Treasury not to enforce, say, income taxes outside certain reformed brackets.

Personally, I agree with Cooke.

It's hard to see how the solution to lawlessness is more lawlessness.

Conservatives are pretty big on the Constitution. The idea that you can break it to save it, strikes me as nonsensical as anything a liberal like Ezra Klein would say about the Constitution.

Yes, it's hard and sometimes unpopular to use the legitimate constitutional processes (the power of the purse (added thought: No Senate confirmations for Obama appointees)) to correct the use of illegitimate ones. So? That's why people swear an oath to "preserve and protect" the Constitution...it's a sacred duty. If it were easy or unimportant you wouldn't have to swear to do it before you got to hold office.

Embracing the Obama view would mean we would no longer be a government of laws but of men. Sure we'd be throwing away our birthright as free people but hey, at least we'll get ours next time!

Personally, I'll leave that ethos to the liberals.

Yes, Obama can legalize millions of illegal immigrants but only temporarily. That's bad but it can be dealt with without further damage to our system of liberty. The solution is rather simple....the next time a Republican wins the White House, instead of breaking a whole bunch of laws to teach Democrats a lesson, they can simply rescind Obama's orders and return the country to the rule of law.

Of course we all know a Republican President won't do that because it would be politically unpopular with Latino voters. And no doubt one argument against such an action would be that it would be unfair to to do this to people who came to depend on the word of the government to organize their lives. Which of course is the very reason not to embrace rule by fiat...people need to know the law means something and have faith in how it's created and administered.

Oh and on a practical note, if the GOP doesn't have the courage to fight this legislatively or repeal it when they have the presidency, do you really think a guy like Jeb Bush is going to have the political fortitude or even the desire to start rewriting the Clean Air Act (Republicans want to poison children!) or the tax code (Making the Koch brothers richer!)? Really? The GOP is forever promising to be tough....next time. How many promises to fight later instead of now when it matters are you willing to buy?

So many of the problems government is forever trying to solve are efforts to fix the damage of earlier government actions. The idea of undoing the original decision is never consider. All we ever do is add another screwball piece of equipment to our Rube Goldberg machine. That's what embracing the Obama doctrine would do...try and solve a problem by adding more problems.

Fighting now and using the legitimate constitutional tools available is so crazy it just might work. If nothing else, it's worth a shot before giving up on 200 plus years of American liberty.


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posted by DrewM. at 10:26 AM

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