Since the very beginning of our Nation’s founding, there has been (by design) a healthy tension between the Legislative branch, which writes laws, and the Executive Branch, which executes those laws. Laws were only de facto valid when they were both on the books and willingly enforced. As every law is a limit upon the people, this created a very high barrier to restrictions on individual rights. In modern parlance we would say that it is a “feature, not a flaw,” as the tension between the branches reinforces the desired ideal that the default position of the federal government is inaction.
If President Obama’s frustration over a “do nothing” Congress prompts him to respond with a “do nothing” government, then I’m all for it. Imagine the good that could be done if a Republican president used Obama’s precedent: By not filling tens of thousands of authorized positions, he could shrink the size of government. By refusing to enforce some environmental regulations, he could remove barriers to economic growth and greater employment. By canceling unnecessary weapon systems, he could remove the influence of earmarks from the defense budget.