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.

Obama’s 23 New Executive Orders on Gun Control

Here are the 23 Executive Orders on gun control that President Obama signed yesterday. You can find a complete list of all of President Obama’s Executive Orders here.

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Obama Says He Will Use Executive Orders as Part of Gun Control Package

President Barack Obama, official portrait

President Obama has indicated that he will use executive orders to side-step Congress in his push for gun control.

The use of executive orders has grown over the decades. In my opinion, it has reached the point that it verges on making Congress obsolete. Aside from whatever issue is in question at the time executive orders are used, there is another, underlying issue.

Is Congress going to be reduced to a bombastic cypher? Are we in effect electing a dictator for four years when we elect a president? Has agency rule-making power, as in the case of the HHS Mandate, become a sort of unelected shadow government?

Congress has ceded its natural functions to other entities by virtue of its unwillingness to perform those functions itself. Congress has the power to belay executive orders and agency mandates. But it won’t use it because it is chasing its own legislative tail by focusing all its efforts on constant partisan wrangling. This partisan brinksmanship has reached the point that it is damaging this country directly and destroying the balance of powers indirectly.

Nature and government abhor a vacuum. If Congress refuses to use the powers it is given under the Constitution, some other governmental entity will take them up. In this case, the president, by means of executive orders and faceless agency bureaucrats, by means of regulations and mandates, are usurping Congress’s rightful function.

That means that we the people are being dealt out of the discussion. The president is the one official who should be elected by all the people, but thanks to the electoral college and modern targeted campaigning, that is no longer true.

Both presidents Bush and Obama were elected by means of targeted campaigns aimed at sections of the voters in electorally important states. These campaigns ignored the rest of the country. In November 2012, this resulted in a win for President Obama that was achieved by the odd combination of an electoral landslide coupled with a razor-thin win in the popular vote.

More and more, the president is not elected by all the people, but is, just like members of Congress, elected by targeted coalitions of special interest groups in key areas.

The result is a government so fractured and focused on itself that it no longer even attempts to govern the country. Both sides in these contentious debates about gun control, the deficit and our unending cycle of wars are focused on winning, not on governing. What I mean by that is that they are focused on what it takes to enact the law. Period.

So we have the sorry spectacle of a president who flat-out says he will use executive orders to wire around Congress on one of the most contentious issues facing the country. This is a disastrous move for the country. It can and will create more divisiveness and anger in an already divided and angry nation.

The Associated Press article discussing President Obama’s plans for the upcoming gun control debate reads in part:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing powerful opposition to sweeping gun regulations, President Barack Obama is weighing 19 steps he could take through executive action alone, congressional officials said. But the scope of such measures is limited.

The steps could include ordering stricter action against people who lie on gun sale background checks, seeking to ensure more complete records in the federal background check database, striking limits on federal research into gun use, ordering tougher penalties against gun trafficking, and giving schools flexibility to use grant money to improve safety.

Obama is expected to unveil his proposals Wednesday, barely over a month since the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., thrust the gun issue into the national spotlight after years of inaction by Obama and lawmakers.

At the same time Obama is vowing not to back off his support for sweeping gun legislation that would require congressional backing — including banning assault weapons, limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines and instituting universal background checks — despite opposition from the influential gun lobby.

“Will all of them get through this Congress? I don’t know,” Obama said at a news conference Monday.

“My starting point is not to worry about the politics,” he said. “My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works.”

The president said he would unveil a comprehensive roadmap for curbing gun violence within days. His plan will be based on recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden’s gun task force and is expected to include both legislative proposals and steps Obama can implement by himself, using his presidential powers.

White House officials believe moving swiftly on gun proposals at a national level, before the shock over the Newtown shooting fades, gives Obama the best chance to get his proposals through Congress. (Read more here.)

Is This a Surprise? White House Considering Broad Gun Control Measures, Including Executive Orders

White House weighs broad gun-control

agenda

The Washington Post

By Philip Rucker

The White House is weighing a far broader and more comprehensive approach to curbing the nation’s gun violence than simply reinstating an expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, according to multiple people involved in the administration’s discussions.

A working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the sources said.

To sell such changes, the White House is developing strategies to work around the National Rifle Association that one source said could include rallying support from Wal-Mart and other gun retailers for measures that would benefit their businesses. White House aides have also been in regular contact with advisers to New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), an outspoken gun-control advocate who could emerge as a powerful surrogate for the Obama administration’s agenda.

The Biden group, formed last month after the massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that killed 20 children and six adults, plans to submit a package of recommendations to President Obama this month. Once Obama’s proposals are set, he plans to lead a public-relations offensive to generate popular support.

“They are very clearly committed to looking at this issue comprehensively,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who has been involved in the discussions. The proposals under consideration, he added, are “a deeper exploration than just the assault-weapons ban.”

The gun-control push is just one part of an ambitious political agenda that Obama has pledged to pursue after his decisive reelection victory in November, including comprehensiveimmigration reform, climate-change legislation and long-term deficit reduction. Obama also faces a reshuffling of his Cabinet, and a looming debate over the nation’s debt ceiling that will compete for his time and attention in the coming months.

Seeking expansive mandate

In addition to potential legislative proposals, Biden’s group has expanded its focus to include measures that would not need congressional approval and could be quickly implemented by executive action, according to interest-group leaders who have discussed options with Biden and key Cabinet secretaries. Possibilities include changes to federal mental-health programs and modernization of gun-tracking efforts by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Read more here.)

 


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