Vox: The president becomes more powerful when Congress doesn’t act

posted at 2:41 pm on August 6, 2014 by Allahpundit

That’s news to me, but if you asked me to guess what Vox’s line would be on O’s ever more ambitious power grabs, this would’ve been it. Ezra Klein:

Just as Congress is too divided to do anything; it’s also too divided to stop the other parts of government from doing something. Congress can’t pass a law solving the immigration crisis but it also can’t pass a law stopping Obama from trying to solve it. It can’t pass a law regulating carbon emissions but it also can’t pass a law stopping the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions. And that’s because big portions of Congress want these actions to be taken; they happen because they enough congressional support to survive.

A point made by skeptics of Obama’s executive actions is that inaction is a congressional choice that needs to be respected. But if Congress is making a choice when it doesn’t pass a bill to do something, it’s also making a choice when it doesn’t pass a bill to stop another branch of government from doing something. Inaction cuts both ways as an expression of congressional will.

Either I’m misreading that or Klein’s replacing the idea of enumerated powers with some sort of congressional right of first refusal on policy. We prefer that Congress handle major legislative changes, he seems to be saying, but if they’re deadlocked along partisan lines then Obama and the Supreme Court have little choice but to step in and handle some of Congress’s business. (How much isn’t clear.) Where this idea comes from, I don’t know. Klein seems to assume that sometimes government simply must, must act, and if the branch responsible for action is frozen for whatever reason, then the others pick up the slack. Maybe you could make that argument in a case of dire emergency — although even then, as we saw with TARP, Congress can heal its rifts pretty quickly — but how does it justify massive executive action on immigration, a policy problem that’s lingered for decades? The point of enumerated powers is to restrain government by narrowly defining what each branch can constitutionally do; the idea that one branch gets to claim the powers of another if the other doesn’t act fast enough, whatever that means, is the opposite of that. Vodkapundit Steven Green summarizes Klein’s argument this way: “[A] good way for Congress to keep the President from getting too powerful is to do what he wants.” Precisely.

In fact, says Leon Wolf, enumerated powers means that the president has less power when Congress doesn’t act, not more:

By way of reminder, under Article 2, the President’s power exists within the domestic sphere to enforce the laws that are passed by Congress. If Congress does not pass a law, the President does not have a law to execute, and therefore his power shrinks, at least under the Constitution.

The Constitution does not envision a regime in which “smart” people like Ezra Klein and Barack Obama decide that a given policy must exist – and then following this decision, Congress gets a ceremonial first bite at the apple of passing a law in accordance with this policy, and if they fail to do so, the President gets to just enact the policy anyway. That is not how the separation of powers works. There is no universe in which it simply must be that an immigration reform proposal makes it to the President’s desk within the calendar year, and if it does not do so, everyone simply accepts that the President has the authority to do what Congress clearly meant to do in the first place.

To be fair to Klein, he doesn’t go so far as to endorse Obama’s executive amnesty, having not seen the actual order yet, and he admits that the precedent being set here could take the country down an antidemocratic road. And yet he’s laying the ideological groundwork for it by arguing this way. For instance, explain this to me:

And there are, of course, real dangers to the president repeatedly stretching his powers. Conservative critics go too far when they pretend that Obama’s actions are unprecedented. President Jimmy Carter, for instance, unilaterally pardoned hundreds of thousands of draft dodgers — an action more extreme than anything Obama is said to be considering. At the same time, there do need to be limits on the president’s ability to win policy fights by selectively enforcing laws.

How is pardoning a few hundred thousand draft dodgers “more extreme” than unilaterally amnestizing five million illegals? You can disagree with what Carter did but the pardon power squarely belongs to the president under Article II. Which clause gives the president the power to formally legalize people who’ve come here without following the procedures set forth under federal law? And another thing: What happens under Klein’s argument if Congress does act but the president himself moves to block it? That is to say, if Republicans retake the Senate this fall and Congress passes a bill formally ending DACA next year, would Klein support Obama vetoing that bill and then turning around and expanding DACA? Because if that’s okay too in the name of taking “necessary” action, with Congress left with no recourse against executive decrees except supermajority veto overrides in both chambers, then we’ve already arrived at the sort of caesarism Ross Douthat was worried about in his NYT column this weekend.

The irony of Klein’s piece is that it inadvertently undermines the left’s best defense to Obama’s mega-amnesty. They could argue that if voters don’t like it, they can always express their upset with O and his party at the polls this fall. That’s how democracies are supposed to work, in theory; if the president overreaches, the people will punish him for it. That’s not how constitutional democracies work, where the Constitution itself limits the president’s power whether or not the majority of voters supports expanding it, but framing one’s argument in terms of popular will is always appealing. Klein’s argument tosses that out the window, though. Instead of arguing that we should let the people decide both ends of this issue — if they dislike congressional gridlock, they’ll give the House back to the Democrats or the Senate back to the GOP, and if they dislike what Obama does with executive action in the meantime, they’ll punish Democrats accordingly — he seems to allow no democratic remedy for gridlock. We simply can’t wait for the damned voters to resolve this impasse by electing a Congress capable of forming a consensus on tough policy matters. We need Obama to act, now. But why?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Where this idea comes from, I don’t know.

Fascists want more fascism.

and

‘The ends justifies the means.’

Athos on August 6, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Well, Ezra Klein did voxplain once that the Constitution is confusing because, like, it’s over 100 years old or something, so this is right in line with his previously demonstrated constitutional, erm, ‘expertise.’

Good Lt on August 6, 2014 at 2:45 PM

But if Congress is making a choice when it doesn’t pass a bill to do something, it’s also making a choice when it doesn’t pass a bill to stop another branch of government from doing something.

Huh? So if Congress doesn’t pass a law stopping Obama from granting amnesty then he can grant amnesty? He has the power simply because Congress doesn’t forbid it?

Congress doesn’t have to pass a law preventing the President from doing something that is unconstitutional. The Constitution prevents it.

This is sophistry.

SteveMG on August 6, 2014 at 2:48 PM

“[A] good way for Congress to keep the President from getting too powerful is to do what he wants.”

………….offer expires upon the election of a Republican president.

antipc on August 6, 2014 at 2:48 PM

ROFL

“You guys won’t pass anything to keep me in check, therefore I can do whatever I want.”

I wonder how this will fly when a GOP prez is in office.

Bishop on August 6, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Vox: The president becomes more powerful when Congress doesn’t act

What is he a modern version of Darth Vader?

DinaRehn on August 6, 2014 at 2:51 PM

“You passed a law saying I couldn’t round people up and throw them into concentration camps. I threw them into death camps, you never used the words “death camps” so my work will continue.”

Bishop on August 6, 2014 at 2:53 PM

ConLaw 101: Klein is so wrong, he deserves the Billy Madison slapdown.

No, the President is never weaker than when he goes it alone. Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youngstown_Sheet_%26_Tube_Co._v._Sawyer

DRPrice on August 6, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Instead of arguing that we should let the people decide both ends of this issue — if they dislike congressional gridlock, they’ll give the House back to the Democrats or the Senate back to the GOP, and if they dislike what Obama does with executive action in the meantime, they’ll punish Democrats accordingly — he seems to allow no democratic remedy for gridlock. We simply can’t wait for the damned voters to resolve this impasse by electing a Congress capable of forming a consensus on tough policy matters. We need Obama to act, now. But why?

IIRC, the President, during the first 2 years of his first term, when he had a decisive majority in the House and 13 months of a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, never felt that ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ was important enough to push. The closest, the Dream Act, failed to pass. Same with the effort to pass Cap and Trade, it also failed in Congress despite the Democrat majorities.

Other than Porkulus, Obamacare, and the Dodd / Frank boondoggle, no other major initiatives were passed by the President and the Democrat majority in Congress. Why?

(That’s the question that Klein would ask if he wasn’t a tool – but….)

Athos on August 6, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Exactamundo bishop

cmsinaz on August 6, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Fascists want more fascism.

and

‘The ends justifies the means.’

Athos on August 6, 2014 at 2:44 PM

That’s it exactly.

gwelf on August 6, 2014 at 2:55 PM

President Jimmy Carter, for instance, unilaterally pardoned hundreds of thousands of draft dodgers — an action more extreme than anything Obama is said to be considering.

Klein… moral relativism does not an argument make. What a tool.

Walter L. Newton on August 6, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Justice Jackson’s concurrence in the Steel Seizure cases? Hey, let’s expand it to everything!

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on August 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Keep Obama in preznit, you know?

He gave us a phone!

He gonna do more!

Galtian on August 6, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Justice Jackson’s concurrence in the Steel Seizure cases?

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on August 6, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Either I’m misreading that or Klein’s replacing the idea of enumerated powers with some sort of congressional right of first refusal on policy.

Are you serious?

The right of first refusal is enshrined in our constitution. It’s all right there in the Good and Welfare clause, just before Prima Nocta.

RINO in Name Only on August 6, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Ezra “JournoList” Klein, you say?

Time to go visit Claude Rains’ grave again.

Del Dolemonte on August 6, 2014 at 3:00 PM

We simply can’t wait for the damned voters to resolve this impasse by electing a Congress capable of forming a consensus on tough policy matters. We need Obama to act, now. But why?

Because Kline and his crony liberal pundits know Obama will have less power after November. Saying goodbye to Harry Reid will be a nightmare to the libs.

Rovin on August 6, 2014 at 3:01 PM

The House has acted! Its Reid who wont let the Senate debate all this legislation! These liberals are simply fascist tyrants. Ive had enough!

NYCMike on August 6, 2014 at 3:02 PM

How does this utter retard post this on a blog that is alleged to be “explaining” things ?

Wouldn’t “explaining” this require that some kind of constitutional basis or even PRECEDENT be included ?

Pardons are not the precedent he’s looking for. President routinely pardon people using the power directly granted them in Article 2.

What a complete and utter epic failure to “explain” this ridiculous idea that he basically made up from whole cloth.

deadrody on August 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

This won’t end well, not for Obama, not for us.

claudius on August 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Ezra Klein sounds like a child playing make-beleive.

frost_ on August 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Freaking “East coast effete intellectuals” had better go back to high school and take that US Civics class over again. Perhaps an educator can be found that will explain the US Constitution using small words so that the “intellectuals” can better comprehend what was written.

GarandFan on August 6, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Apparently elections only have consequences when you win the Presidency. After all, we are a dictatorship now.

Wigglesworth on August 6, 2014 at 3:08 PM

We need Obama to act, now. But why?

BECAUSE THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW or something.

Gotta rush, no time to think, no time to craft sensible policy, no time to debate, no time to build democratic consensus.

Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta go. Obama’s time is running out, and the Democrats want credit for doing…something. Doesn’t matter what it is. Doesn’t matter if it destroys the country. Doesn’t matter if it violates the separation of powers or rips the Constitution to shreds. GOTTA DO IT. No time to explain.

This has it always been with despots. Always in a hurry. Little too much democracy goin’ on out there for the Obots’ liking.

Good Lt on August 6, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Oh yeah, it says that right there in the constitution. Right?

The Notorious G.O.P on August 6, 2014 at 3:12 PM

There’s already a law on the book, but whatevers.

signed, xxoo

super brains.

joeindc44 on August 6, 2014 at 3:13 PM

This has it always been with despots. Always in a hurry. Little too much democracy goin’ on out there for the Obots’ liking.

Good Lt on August 6, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Here ya, Lt. Sounds like the fundamental idea behind the Climate Change/Carbon Tax blah blah.

itsspideyman on August 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Vox: The president becomes more powerful when Congress doesn’t act

I think they were spot on. Don’t like it, but that does seem to be the reality. But it may also be that not only the Dems, but the majority of the Republicans (or at least their most powerful congressional members) are in fact relieved when the President issues executive orders. Regardless of what the Constitution says, I haven’t noticed Congress stopping Obama (or back in the day, Bush) from doing anything he wants.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 6, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Vox:

Propaganda outlet, similar to Pravda during the existence of the USSR. Supposedly independent and describing itself as “a general interest news site for the 21st century”, Vox instead acts in direct support or defense of the ruling regime.

darwin on August 6, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Good Lt on August 6, 2014 at 3:09 PM

You mean like passing deeming O’care passed in the middle of the night on Xmas eve right before Scott Brown was sworn in? That kind of urgency?

antipc on August 6, 2014 at 3:17 PM

You mean like passing deeming O’care passed in the middle of the night on Xmas eve right before Scott Brown was sworn in? That kind of urgency?

antipc on August 6, 2014 at 3:17 PM

According to Klein, nothing wrong with that, the ends justifies the means.

Athos on August 6, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Poor Ezra. He apparently has forgotten that the Constitution itself is law.

gengwall on August 6, 2014 at 3:20 PM

In fact, says Leon Wolf, enumerated powers means that the president has less power when Congress doesn’t act, not more:

I disagree. Its obvious that the writers of the Constitution intended to give the Executive Branch exemptions from faithfully executing the laws, you know, after pens and cellphones would be invented.

I tell ya, those founding fathers were some smart dudes. They knew that eventually ball point pens and phones would be invented, and the country would have developed to the point where divided powers between the branches of government would no longer be required.

BobMbx on August 6, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Nope sorry Ezra. The House of Representatives has the power of the purse. They and only they can authorize funding. If the President wants to he can sign anything he wants to, but without funding it ain’t going to last long. Sorry.

Johnnyreb on August 6, 2014 at 3:23 PM

When I was on the bridge between Gaza and the West Bank, which Israel had shutdown at the time, I though man those vox guys sure are morons. Clinically morons, meaning an IQ maximum of 74 but I wouldn’t lose money betting that voxers are more toward 50.

Like my dad said, “People that keep telling you how smart they are, aren’t.” That goes for just about anything else such as tolerant, loving, peaceful, giving…

jukin3 on August 6, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Ezra Klein sounds like a child playing make-beleive.

frost_ on August 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Ezra Klein sounds like a child addicted to playing make-beleive with himself.

BobMbx on August 6, 2014 at 3:24 PM

So would Klein be cool with this if a Republican president were acting like Obama?

Bitter Clinger on August 6, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Some in the media give Vox way more deference than they deserve…I don’t know why.

d1carter on August 6, 2014 at 3:26 PM

I guess they don’t teach civics anymore in Ezra’s… what grade is he in now, anyway?

Surellin on August 6, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Well, the Constitution is kinda old, and clearly they didn’t mean everything they said in it, so…

changer1701 on August 6, 2014 at 3:28 PM

I guess they don’t teach civics anymore in Ezra’s… what grade is he in now, anyway?

Surellin on August 6, 2014 at 3:26 PM

If it’s not covered in Wiki or on Twitter…it aint’ so or something…

workingclass artist on August 6, 2014 at 3:30 PM

No one cares about this moron any more.

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2014 at 3:30 PM

I’ll give small brain Klein this, if there is no law against or for a certain activity the president could do what he wants. Then congress would have to write a law to stop him from or force him to do that previously not against or for the law. However, there are hundreds of laws about ILLEGAL immigration. Ergo, small brain Klein is completely wrong.

jukin3 on August 6, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Well, the Constitution is kinda old, and clearly they didn’t mean everything they said in it, so…

changer1701 on August 6, 2014 at 3:28 PM

One of the saddest, and scariest, parts about that statement is that there are currently on the SCOTUS, at least 3 and perhaps as many as 4 Justices that believe it.

Athos on August 6, 2014 at 3:34 PM

We need Obama to act, now. But why?

BECAUSE THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW or something.

Gotta rush, no time to think, no time to craft sensible policy, no time to debate, no time to build democratic consensus.

Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta go. Obama’s time is running out, and the Democrats want credit for doing…something. Doesn’t matter what it is. Doesn’t matter if it destroys the country. Doesn’t matter if it violates the separation of powers or rips the Constitution to shreds. GOTTA DO IT. No time to explain.

This has it always been with despots. Always in a hurry. Little too much democracy goin’ on out there for the Obots’ liking.

Good Lt on August 6, 2014 at 3:09 PM

You mean like passing deeming O’care passed in the middle of the night on Xmas eve right before Scott Brown was sworn in? That kind of urgency?

antipc on August 6, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Yep!

workingclass artist on August 6, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Well, the Constitution is kinda old, and clearly they didn’t mean everything they said in it, so…

changer1701 on August 6, 2014 at 3:28 PM

One of the saddest, and scariest, parts about that statement is that there are currently on the SCOTUS, at least 3 and perhaps as many as 4 Justices that believe it.

Athos on August 6, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Indeed.

Scarier…Many Americans believe that garbage as well…

workingclass artist on August 6, 2014 at 3:37 PM

This is extremely scary stuff.

cdog0613 on August 6, 2014 at 3:39 PM

But if Congress is making a choice when it doesn’t pass a bill to do something, it’s also making a choice when it doesn’t pass a bill to stop another branch of government from doing something. Inaction cuts both ways as an expression of congressional will.

And Ezra glosses right over the manifestation of “something”, which is assuming powers not granted. He forgets that Obama can veto a bill that says he has to follow the constitution. Which, according to Ezra, is just fine.

BobMbx on August 6, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Ever since Wilson the progressive left has had an open hostility to the check and balances and separation of powers and other “mechanism” (as Madison called them) in the Constitution.

They want to wish them away.

At least when they run the White House.

It’s interesting, though, that they don’t feel the same way with those limits on Congress. At least the House.

Okay, interesting as in revealing.

SteveMG on August 6, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Does this line of thinking mean if the police are not actually present to stop me, I can do whatever I want? When the police finally get around to stopping me, who will reverse all the damage I have done?

Liberals and radical Islam – the ends justify the means.

VengeanceIsMine on August 6, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Ross Douthat at the Times enters the debate—never mentions Constitutional limitations.

Rovin on August 6, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Ross Douthat at the Times enters the debate—never mentions Constitutional limitations

True for THAT column. But if you read his others ones on this issue he is specifically saying that President Obama would be acting beyond his constitutional powers if he does an executive amnesty.

In the column you link he is responding to the claim that Obama is being forced to act (“Caesarism”) because of the intransigence of the Republicans. Douthat claims, correctly, that the White House contributed to this crisis by NOT finding compromise when it was available.

SteveMG on August 6, 2014 at 4:01 PM

This is what VOX was created to do. To make young people stupid. Why an esteemed blog like Hot Air would even give them a voice is remarkable to me.

/Stop the Stupids from making Stupids Stupider!

Sheesh

Key West Reader on August 6, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Klein is right in practice, even if you don’t like it AP.

DFCtomm on August 6, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Maybe I’ve missed something, but where was it that Ezra Klein got his law degree?

flipflop on August 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

And there are, of course, real dangers to the president repeatedly stretching his powers. Conservative critics go too far when they pretend that Obama’s actions are unprecedented. President Jimmy Carter, for instance, unilaterally pardoned hundreds of thousands of draft dodgers — an action more extreme than anything Obama is said to be considering. At the same time, there do need to be limits on the president’s ability to win policy fights by selectively enforcing laws. Liberals should consider Yuval Levin’s hypothetical:

Let’s imagine that a Republican wins the presidency in 2016, and that Republicans have a majority in the House while Democrats have a majority in the Senate. And let’s say the president and House Republicans try to lower everyone’s personal income-tax rates by 10 percent. The House manages to pass a bill to enact such an across-the-board cut, but Senate Democrats kill it. And let’s imagine that the president then proceeds to announce that, given how helpful he believes his preferred course of action would be to the economy, he will just implement the rate cut himself: His administration will not enforce any legal penalties against people in the 35 percent bracket who only pay a 25 percent tax on their incomes, people in the 25 percent bracket who only pay 15 percent, and so on.

That’s far-fetched, but it’s easy to imagine more modest applications of the same idea.

Repeal of all Obamacare mandates… because Congress didn’t repeal it by itself.

blammm on August 6, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Ezra, that new junk you’re buying is putting you right out over the edge.
Be very careful my friend, very careful.

Another Drew on August 6, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Another proof Leftism is a disease.

The stupid is uniform.

formwiz on August 6, 2014 at 4:16 PM

“Just as Congress is too divided to do anything; it’s also too divided to stop the other parts of government from doing something. Congress can’t pass a law solving the immigration crisis but it also can’t pass a law stopping Obama from trying to solve it.”

My big question is who in the hell determined that Ezra Klein is smart?

It’s not Obama’s job to “fix” the immigration crisis, it’s his job to enforce existing laws. He can submit a proposal to Congress to pass a law, but has it ever crossed Ezra’s tiny little mind that Obama’s proposal may suck just as bad any comprehensive immigration bill in consideration?

I’m a simple computer engineer, but even I have a better grasp of civics than this erudite policy wonk.

Intrepid767 on August 6, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Wow. That’s ignorant and short-sighted. But then again, he thot the constitution was some ancient 100 year old document.

I’ll bite. Why don’t we go along with making up a rule by popular vote concerning the NFL?

We must have a score by the end of each quarter. Whichever quarterback is on the field at the end of the quarter gets to either run it in or kick for field goal from the goal line. We can’t have gridlock on the field where neither team can advance the ball under set rules.

Doesn’t matter if the NFL adopts the rule or not. Doesn’t matter if the majority of fans are against it. The media must have a score so they can talk about it. Punt or touchdown, but get it on the board.

Besides, all those rules about scoring was written by old/dead white men. It’s just old skool, we’s aim to play Calvin Ball!!!

AH_C on August 6, 2014 at 4:58 PM

So when the President and the Executive Branch decide NOT to enforce immigration law…

Congress can simply arrest and deport illegals themselves without the Executive Branch getting a say in the matter?

What? If you don’t use the power you’re given, any other branch of government can take over that power, and do whatever they want without any limitation.

Isn’t that the “voxplanation” of how government works?

gekkobear on August 6, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Congress can simply arrest and deport illegals themselves without the Executive Branch getting a say in the matter?

Good point.

If the Executive branch can act extra-constitutionally if the legislature is deficient, can the Legislative branch act extra-constitutionally if the executive is failing its job?

Or does this only apply to the President?

When has a (D) after his/her name?

SteveMG on August 6, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Klein is a f*cking idiot – or worse, openly advocating for a dictatorship. Someone needs some cognitive recalibration.

Midas on August 6, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Klein is right in practice, even if you don’t like it AP.

DFCtomm on August 6, 2014 at 4:03 PM

The f*ck he is; he’s an ignorant imbecile, and apparently so are you.

Midas on August 6, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Ezra Klein was never some brilliant wonk. It was all an act, he loaded up on healthcare jargon and faulty leftist predictions to sell how wonderful ObamaCare would be – for years. He sounded like he knew what he was talking about.

But reality has proved him wrong in almost every detail.

Same holds true for Yglesias.

And there is a new “Journ-O-List” group with better security now, called “Gamechanger Salon,” a private Google group of leftist propagandists “fixing” the news so you don’t get confused by the facts.

Adjoran on August 6, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Either I’m misreading that or Klein’s replacing the idea of enumerated powers with some sort of congressional right of first refusal on policy.

You are assuming Klein knows what “enumerated powers” means. He isn’t that bright of a bulb.

antisocial on August 6, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Shiite Flows Downhill—-
Just as Putin and other terrorist thugs are embolden to commit lawless, criminal, hostile acts of aggression by the whimpy-ness of jerk OBOZO, so too is OBOZO embolden to commit lawless, criminal, hostile acts of aggression by the whimpy-ness of jerk Boehner.

Thus, in a sense, one can say that self-serving spineless, gutless, establishment/big government Repub-o-cRAT weasel Boehner is, in essence, responsible for everything BAD that is happening in the world, in general, and America, in particular. He is aided and abetted by the feckless House GOP, which is now dominated by despicable Repub-o-cRATs/RINOcRATs who do nothing to uphold and defend the US Constitution -or respect its “checks and balances” -that they took an oath to do….

MicahStone on August 6, 2014 at 5:43 PM

One has to wonder if these people that claim to be so enlightened and smart ever read the founding documents of their own country. It is very explicit in the Federalist Papers that matters that are undecided by the Legislative branch are to remain undecided until such a time when they agree on something. At which time, once again in accordance with the Federalist Papers, and I quote from Federalist 70:

In the legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties in that department of the government, though they may sometimes obstruct salutary plans , yet often promote deliberation and circumspection , and serve to check excesses in the majority. When a resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an end. That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable.

It is amazing how quickly this country is forgetting its roots and it foundation.

ojfltx on August 6, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Allahpundit–by responding to Ezra’s absurdity with this post, aren’t you essentially legitimizing Vox in the same way CNN & Blitzer did with that Hamas’ dude yesterday?

conservative pilgrim on August 6, 2014 at 6:11 PM

The f*ck he is; he’s an ignorant imbecile, and apparently so are you.

Midas on August 6, 2014 at 5:19 PM

No. You don’t f*cking get it. If Congress is too divided to agree to use the powers available to it against the executive branch, then in practice the President is much more powerful. The Constitution is nothing more than pretty words on expensive paper. We have always been the ones to give it any power and meaning, but now we just aren’t those people anymore. We literally aren’t those people anymore. Import the third world and you get the third world. What a surprise.

DFCtomm on August 6, 2014 at 6:21 PM

The executive has discretion to set prosecutorial priorites – Congress can’t do much about it except mandate sentences.

The EPA already has a broad mandate from Congress – Congress has to act in order to stop it from doing what it’s already authorized to do.

Does Klein suggest anywhere in his article that the President has authority to act with no Constitutional or Congressional authorization whatsoever?

Dan Minardi on August 6, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Does Klein suggest anywhere in his article that the President has authority to act with no Constitutional or Congressional authorization whatsoever?

Dan Minardi on August 6, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Yes that’s exactly what he’s suggesting. He’s saying that the President has as much authority as he can take. Which has always been the reality, but we’ve never had a president willing to so blatantly disregard some words on a piece of paper, until now.

DFCtomm on August 6, 2014 at 7:37 PM

Does Klein suggest anywhere in his article that the President has authority to act with no Constitutional or Congressional authorization whatsoever?

Dan Minardi on August 6, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Yes that’s exactly what he’s suggesting. He’s saying that the President has as much authority as he can take. Which has always been the reality, but we’ve never had a president willing to so blatantly disregard some words on a piece of paper, until now.

Not really. Klein just goes through what actually is within the bounds of Constitutional law — prosecutorial and administrative discretion empowered by the Constitution and by statute.

The EPA couldn’t regulate greenhouse gas emissions if it were not empowered by statute. It’s absolutely impossible. Courts would not allow them to enforce anything that is not authorized by statute.

The president can’t just get way with whatever he wants. See gun control. Obama announced a bunch of executive orders that are already authorized by statute and that amount to jack shit in terms of gun policy.

The President has as much authority as he can take, sure, but the authority he can take is that which is authorized by statute or directly by the Constitution.

Dan Minardi on August 6, 2014 at 9:18 PM

The President has as much authority as he can take, sure, but the authority he can take is that which is authorized by statute or directly by the Constitution.

Dan Minardi on August 6, 2014 at 9:18 PM

You seem confused. Ink on paper, put there by man does not carry the same forced compliance as, say, the law of gravity. The president has as much authority as he can take, period, and that authority isn’t, in reality, limited by the Constitution. It’s limited by our cultural acceptance of his power grabs, and if you haven’t noticed we’ve become very accepting.

DFCtomm on August 6, 2014 at 9:47 PM

The President has as much authority as he can take, sure, but the authority he can take is that which is authorized by statute or directly by the Constitution.

Dan Minardi on August 6, 2014 at 9:18 PM

You seem confused. Ink on paper, put there by man does not carry the same forced compliance as, say, the law of gravity. The president has as much authority as he can take, period, and that authority isn’t, in reality, limited by the Constitution. It’s limited by our cultural acceptance of his power grabs, and if you haven’t noticed we’ve become very accepting.

DFCtomm on August 6, 2014 at 9:47 PM

It doesn’t matter what our cultural acceptance is. If it impacts an individual who has standing to take it into court, the court isn’t going to give a shit about our cultural understanding. It’s going to look for a statute authorizing the government’s action, or directly in the Constitution.

It doesn’t take a culture to limit the president. It takes one person with standing to sue.

So, of course, any executive action taken by Obama will be:

1. Authorized by Congress;
2. Authorized by the Constitution;
3. Impact no one personally enough to give standing to sue; or
4. Challenged in court and struck down

Obama can’t unilaterally enact universal gun background checks, even if 80% of the country allegedly supports them.

Dan Minardi on August 6, 2014 at 10:48 PM

If it impacts an individual who has standing to take it into court, the court isn’t going to give a shit about our cultural understanding. It’s going to look for a statute authorizing the government’s action, or directly in the Constitution.

Dan Minardi on August 6, 2014 at 10:48 PM

You really don’t know what time it is do you? Here is a quote to help you figure it out.

The Pope SCOTUS? How many divisions has he got?

DFCtomm on August 6, 2014 at 11:06 PM

If it impacts an individual who has standing to take it into court, the court isn’t going to give a shit about our cultural understanding. It’s going to look for a statute authorizing the government’s action, or directly in the Constitution.

Dan Minardi on August 6, 2014 at 10:48 PM

You really don’t know what time it is do you? Here is a quote to help you figure it out.

The Pope SCOTUS? How many divisions has he got?

DFCtomm on August 6, 2014 at 11:06 PM

You really don’t know how to form a coherent argument, do you? No matter how many times you repeat yourself, you’re still wrong. There are substantive limits to executive power, as defined in the Constitution, that the president cannot cross no matter how popular the decision might be, absent Congressional authorization or a Constitutional amendment. Where are those executive orders for the ever-popular universal background checks?

Dan Minardi on August 7, 2014 at 1:30 AM

Dan Minardi on August 7, 2014 at 1:30 AM

You are giving us a fine example of just why the Constitution held the country together for nearly 250 years. The concept of law is so ingrained into your being that you cannot conceive that it only exists because we have faith that it exists. You are the very stuff that has held the country together all this time, but there just aren’t enough people like you anymore. The country now is full of Kirsten Powers who thinks laws are only there to govern Republicans. Democrats don’t need them because the heart is the only law that a light worker needs.

DFCtomm on August 7, 2014 at 1:56 AM