Not a perfect strategy but if you’re grasping for last-minute ways to deter Obama from dropping the A-bomb, this may be your best shot. Impeachment’s not happening. If it did happen, Obama would welcome it as a post-landslide deus ex machina that turns the country against the GOP. Defunding’s probably not happening either, I hate to tell you. McConnell and Boehner will have no choice now but to insert language defunding executive amnesty in the new continuing resolution next month, but Obama will veto that CR. And I just don’t believe B&M have the stomach for a protracted shutdown so soon after taking over Congress. Frankly, I figure that’s half the reason O’s suddenly eager to do amnesty this month instead of waiting until New Year’s. He wants Boehner and McConnell to choke on the idea of a new shutdown, knowing that they’d like nothing more than to pass some popular bipartisan bills instead to prove they can govern. That’s the state of Hopenchange in 2014 — tossing unconstitutional, highly divisive policy grenades in hopes of triggering a shutdown or even impeachment. Just because it might help Democrats politically.
So here’s an idea. Boehner and McConnell call a press conference flanked by Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Paul Ryan. If any Republican governors eyeing 2016 want to attend too, they’re invited — Christie, Walker, Jindal, Jeb Bush, whoever. At the presser, B&M make a short statement: The GOP intends to challenge Obama’s amnesty in court as an unconstitutional infringement on separation of powers. If, however, they lose that suit, they’ll encourage any Republican successor to O to use the amnesty precedent in other areas of policy, starting with tax reform. Specifically, they’ll advise the president to issue an executive order barring the IRS from collecting more than 10 percent of adjusted gross income from American taxpayers, a de facto flat tax. Like Obama’s amnesty, that order will be temporary; a Democratic successor could rescind it with one stroke. Like Obama’s amnesty, that order will be aimed at a highly contentious issue on which Congress is currently deadlocked. If the opposition party doesn’t like the order, they can simply join the majority party in Congress in passing a compromise bill that supersedes it, just as Obama always says about the GOP and immigration. The point, obviously, is that the practice of dubious executive power grabs at Congress’s expense can work for both parties. And will. Smarter liberals digested that point months ago, which is why they’re leery of O’s amnesty. Dumber liberals will need it explained to them, verrrrry slooooowly. Once it is, if they’re still gung ho about the president appointing himself national lawgiver, well, okay. I guess that’s America now. At least they won’t act surprised when President Cruz starts doing this stuff.
As I say, though, not a perfect solution. The obvious problem: How do you argue on the one hand that Obama’s doing something grossly unconstitutional while arguing on the other that you’re prepared to do the same thing as soon as you have the chance? That’s what the lawsuit’s for. If, as everyone expects, a court tosses the GOP’s complaint against O, then they can say that while they disagree with the court’s ruling, it is what it is and it’d be foolish for them not to use the same precedent to make America better. Having Boehner and McConnell deliver this message instead of the 2016ers themselves also creates a bit of a fig leaf in case one is needed on the campaign trail. If Rubio or Cruz et al. are asked whether they’ll really issue an order like the tax one I mentioned, they can say they haven’t made up their minds, that that was B&M’s plan, but that obviously Democrats are in no position anymore to object to bold unilateral moves by a powerful executive. Clearly, they can say, they’d prefer that the president not have this power at all. But Barack Obama, con law professor turned president, decided that the legislature couldn’t be trusted with legislative power, and a court agreed. Oh well.
Now that Obama’s aides are floating specifics about his order to reporters, with hints that it’ll come sooner rather than later, it’s probably too late to stop it. He’d lose too much face with the amnesty shills if he bowed to GOP threats at the eleventh hour. But let’s make this threat anyway, if only so that liberals know what’s in store for them down the road when they’re busy celebrating Obama’s authoritarianism next Friday.