Let’s set the stage with a quote from January 2009, back when these partisan frauds were still high on their Bush-era image as a counterweight to the “unitary executive.” What do you think, Majority Leader Reid? Is it time to roll over for the new Democratic president?
Reid stated, “I don’t believe in the executive power trumping everything… I believe in our Constitution, three separate but equal branches of government.”
“If Obama steps over the bounds, I will tell him. … I do not work for Barack Obama. I work with him,” he said.
Four years later, with the left having rubber-stamped a military intervention in Libya without congressional sanction and the brightest lights of liberal punditry now reduced to mumbling about trillion-dollar coins, Reid decides that executive power does in fact trump everything after all:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other top Democrats are putting new pressure on the White House to circumvent Congress to boost the nation’s debt ceiling if no bipartisan agreement can be reached.
In a strongly worded letter to President Barack Obama obtained by POLITICO, Reid and his leadership team argue that failing to raise the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling would threaten the full faith and credit of the United States. Reid and Sens. Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray asserted that Obama “must make clear that you will never allow our nation’s economy and reputation to be held hostage.”
“In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt limit extension only as part of an unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis — without congressional approval, if necessary,” the Friday letter to Obama says.
Reid and Pelosi each favor having Obama raise the debt ceiling unilaterally under the 14th Amendment, a move that’s more legally dubious than the trillion-dollar coin, so pay no mind to his caveat in the excerpt about “lawful steps.” He doesn’t care about the law. Obama could issue a decree stating that he’s canceling the debt ceiling on grounds that “Article II is awesome” and Reid would defend it as within the executive’s purview. The idea of “checks and balances” is that each branch will restrain the others by competing vigorously with them for power; what you’re seeing here is the opposite, an attempt by the leadership of the Senate to enlarge the power of the presidency at its own expense. Rather than protect Congress’s prerogatives and trust voters to punish House Republicans if they overreach, they’re encouraging a sort of very limited coup. The language, about the president needing to act without the legislature’s approval to avert a global crisis, barely even tries to pretend otherwise. Good thing Reid “doesn’t work for Obama;” imagine how far he’d be willing to go if he did. Exit quotation from a Senate Democratic aide who knows a looming political disaster when he sees one: “What better symbol of out-of-control government spending could you have than a trillion dollar coin?”
Update: Via Guy Benson, to repeat: The guy’s a complete partisan fraud. If his caucus wasn’t filled with partisan frauds too, today’s letter would be reason enough to replace him.
Update: Ramesh Ponnuru makes an excellent point. If you read the Reid excerpt closely, he’s not saying Obama should raise the debt ceiling unilaterally only if the House fails to act; he’s saying O should do it even if the House passes a bill that Obama doesn’t like, i.e. one that’s heavy on cuts and light (or nonexistent) on new revenue. The point about needing to act to prevent a global crisis is a total lie. What they really want to prevent is a package to raise the ceiling that undermines the Democratic agenda. Again: Complete. Partisan. Fraud.