Obama: ‘I’ve Got a Pen and I’ve Got a Phone and I’m Not Waiting for Legislation’

The presidency has been lurching toward elected dictator-ism ever since Harry Truman took us down the path of our first undeclared war in the guise of a “police action.”

Lyndon Johnson put the cherry on top with the not only undeclared war of Vietnam, but by lying to both Congress and the American people about the cause of that war. Since then, presidents very rarely consult Congress before they take this nation to war. They just more or less get up one fine morning and decide that, hey, we’ve been at peace for, say, 30 or 40 minutes, and it’s time to gin up another war.

Sad to say, the war-making dictatorship which American presidents have taken onto themselves is truly nothing compared to the way they have gradually set aside the lawmaking powers of Congress.

That’s how we got President Obama’s very excellent HHS Mandate and its attack on (read that destruction of) religious freedom.

Each president, every single one of them without regard to political party or theory of government, has advanced the presidency into new elected dictator territory.

Now, President Obama has called a press conference to announce that he no longer needs Congress to enact laws at all. He has, he tells us, “a pen and a phone” and that’s all he needs to de facto enact gun control, immigration reform and God only knows what else.

Congress could, if it got its collective head out of endless and useless sniping and fighting with itself, assert its rightful authority and take back these powers from the Prez. After all, presidents didn’t just reach out and snatch power away from Congress against Congress’ will. Congress gave it to them.

Presidential fiat is a direct consequence of the utter and complete will-less-ness of Congress. I think that members of Congress are secretly glad when the President acts in their stead. They’re glad, because a president running amuck and making law with his mighty pen removes the necessity of taking the hard votes off their shoulders. While the president does their job of lawmaking they are free to go to receptions, raise money for their outlandishly expensive campaigns and take pot shots at members of the opposite party in an attempt to achieve the only thing that matters to them: Control of one House of Congress or the other for their political party.

I keep paraphrasing Lily Tomlin when I write about this stuff. I can’t help doing it. It just fits. So let me say it again.

I try to be cynical about American politics, but I can’t keep up.

The President of the United States made the bold announcement that he’s all through waiting for Congress to pass legislation and he is anointing himself both Congress and President in one mighty, pen-wielding man.

Do you remember the 1950s movie The Ten Commandments? It’s was good movie stuff when Yul Brynner, who played Ramses, gazed off with that incredible screen presence of his and intoned in that resonating Yul Brynner voice, “So let it be written. So let it be done.”

That was walloping great theater.

However, when a president of the United States starts channeling his inner Ramses and doing essentially the same thing, it’s not theater. It is an overstepping and trammeling of the Constitutional separation of powers that has helped keep Americans free these past 200 plus years.

President Obama didn’t start this process of elected dictators sitting in the White House, and sadly, I don’t think he’s going to be the end of it. So long as Congress only cares about getting re-elected and making sure that their political party either takes or holds power, the presidency will continue to become more imperial.

“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone,” the man said.

Who knew that’s all it took.

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he would not wait for Congress to pass legislation to advance his policy priorities this year and said he was “getting close” to finishing a review of U.S. surveillance practices – to be unveiled on Friday.

Obama, speaking to reporters during a cabinet meeting at the White House, foreshadowed his upcoming State of the Union address and what appeared to be a new messaging strategy by emphasizing his ability to take executive actions without approval from lawmakers.

“We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need,” he said.

“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions … and I’ve got a phone that allows me to convene Americans from every walk of life,” he said.

  • Dave

    I’m more concerned about what Americans are going to think and do about what Obama said, rather than what Congress thinks. We already know that 95% of Congress needs to be put out on its rear.

  • SisterCynthia

    My dispassionate side shrugs, thinks of history and says, “so went Rome, so go we, from increasingly dysfunctional representation to ‘benevolent’ dictatorship.” My American side is not so pragmatic, and really wants to just scream.

  • Bill S

    When I was with the EPA, Congress would pass a law such as the Toxic Substances Control Act and the EPA would write the regulations for the implementation of that law. Congress never got involved in the writing of the regulations. Same is the case for the Affordable Care Act, a law, and the HHS mandate, a regulation. HHS writes the regulations which include listing what must be covered under acceptable health care plans. This Administration is functioning no differently than any prior one.

    We also had Executive Orders back then. I don’t think much has changed.

    • hamiltonr

      Yes Bill. It’s a regulation. Congress may not have gotten involved in the regulations you wrote, but they always have had the power to do so. In fact, they have a responsibility to do so. THEY and not some anonymous bureaucrat in a government back room are the elected voice of the people. You know: Government of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE.

      • Bill S

        It is the bureaucrat that understands what is required for regulations for laws that many legislators don’t even read.

        • hamiltonr

          Legislators create the laws Bill. You are advocating a tyranny by bureaucrat. Aside from that the method of governance is clear. Agencies only have those powers that are given to them by Congress — which created the agencies in the first place, btw — and those powers can be rescinded by Congress at any time. You’re arguing about nothing.

          • Bill S

            Have we established the fact that Congress has the HHS Mandate or anything else regarding contraception on its plate? Other than the devout, who even cares if people’s health care includes contraception?

            It is best to let the courts rule on this. Let the Becket Fund do its best to try to deny employees complete health care coverage. Has anyone asked the employees if they want the coverage? If they don’t then they won’t use it. You would think that the government is imposing contraception on people who want children.

            • hamiltonr

              Court mandate is never “best” Bill. It’s always in some ways a failure of legislation, as well as a crude instrument that does harm as well as good. I sometimes describe it by saying that the law is not a scalpel, it’s a meat cleaver. The regular courts are not a scalpel, they are a bomb. The Supreme Court is not a scalpel, it is an atomic bomb. Sweeping rulings from the Supreme Court that overturn established cultural practices are total nuclear war.

              If ANYTHING can be resolved outside of the courts, it’s always better to do it there.

              • Bill S

                As I understand it, there are no more options available for those opposed to the mandate. There are laws protecting religious freedom which, depending on their interpretation, will either require compliance with the contraception mandate or provide relief from the requirements.

                The President and Congress have done their part. The rest is up to the courts. By the way, some of my comments are not getting through. Can you look into it?

                • hamiltonr

                  I’m deleting some of your comments because you’re making them in batches, the numbers of which would blot out any give and take with the other commenters, and many of them repeat themselves, sometimes verbatim. I’ve also deleted a few of them because they were just diatribes against the Church. That sort of nonsense is not allowed here. You should know that by now, Bill. Also, when you make a comment and then add an angry aside to me personally, I almost always delete it.

            • FW Ken

              Contraception is not healthcare, because pregnancy is not a disorder or disease. The HHS mandates are lifestyle services. Lifesaving services, interestingly enough, are not free. If women choose to not have children that’s a choice, not a medical issue. My ruptured appendix cost me over $2000. The pill is $9 at Target. No one is denying anyone anything.

    • AnneG

      Bill! regulations are supposed to be published and available for comment from stakeholders or the public. They are also subject to Congress saying, no, that’s not what we meant or intended. Yet another reason to do away with the EPA. Don’t bother saying how EPA saved the world. Not true.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    Except, of course, those walks of life he personally disapproves of- like Orthodox Catholics.

  • Sus_1

    I’ve been thinking about a compromise.

    What if the health coverage was counseling and help with Natural Family Planning?

    There would have to be doctors that are educated and supportive which will be an issue as the doctors I’ve come across have always said it is Russian Roulette to use NFP. I have never tried finding a doc that is supportive because I’ve found other resources. However, there has to be educated doctors somewhere.

    Maybe Catholics should start calling for doctors to include NFP as an option.

  • Linda Kreger

    Maybe he’ll wield that penandphone on his to whack out some (all would be better) of the junk in the Healthe Care Act that is NOT helping ANYONE, including those
    Americans he says he’s so concerned about.


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