Saturday, August 13, 2022

Wicker Challenges Obama Administration's Executive Overreach

President’s Vow to Act Alone Infringes on Constitutional Separation of Powers
President Obama is making no apologies for his use of executive power to advance an ultra-liberal agenda. In recent weeks, he has repeatedly expressed his intent to bypass Congress – declaring administrative fiats in his State of the Union address and informing his Cabinet that he will not wait on legislation but will wield his pen to sign executive orders.
The President’s unilateral action poses a serious threat to the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution. America’s founding document grants “all legislative powers” to Congress and directs the President to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Governing by executive order, as President Obama has vowed to do, not only defies the law but sets a dangerous precedent for future administrations. A number of cases challenging executive power are already winding their way through the courts, which many observers expect will rule against the President.
Obama’s End-Run Around Congress
Policy disagreements are expected when Republicans control the House of Representatives and Democrats control the Senate and White House. Successful legislative action requires both political parties to find common ground. But President Obama continues to act as if his failure to reach consensus with Congress grants him permission to sidestep the law. Rather than achieving legislative results on important issues like health care, immigration, and the environment, the Obama Administration has suspended laws, granted waivers, and issued sweeping regulations when Congress does not see eye to eye on its demands.
The scope of the Administration’s regulatory agenda is alarming. Since President Obama took office, some 300 “economically significant” regulations have been issued – considerably more than those enacted by George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. To be characterized as “economically significant,” a regulation has to have an economic impact of more than $100 million.
Ruling by Decree
Perhaps nowhere is the President’s autocratic reach more evident than his unworkable health-care law. Instead of using congressional action to fix the law’s many problems, President Obama has issued decree after decree in an effort to rewrite legislation that he simultaneously defends as “the law of the land.” He has delayed, for example, a major mandate of the law forcing employers with at least 50 full-time employees to offer health insurance. He has also exempted millions of Americans from the law’s central provision requiring every citizen to purchase health insurance. And yet, when Republicans in Congress introduced legislation to delay or repeal these mandates, the White House responded with veto threats.
The President’s recent executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors similarly illustrates his disconnect. In the past, legislation to raise the minimum wage has been accompanied by incentives for job creators to hire and expand. Ramming through policy in a vacuum misses an opportunity to help more Americans. Both the independent Congressional Budget Office and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have acknowledged that, without accompanying measures to promote economic growth, a minimum wage increase could kill hundreds of thousands of jobs.
‘A Republic … if You Can Keep It’
The President took an oath to uphold the Constitution and should be held accountable for actions that overstep his executive power. More than two-and-a-quarter centuries ago, our Founders set up a system of divided and limited power to protect against an imperial government. The challenge today is to ensure that this system endures, no matter the political disagreement or partisan rancor. Benjamin Franklin’s reported response to a bystander in 1787 after the Constitutional Convention is still true: “Madam, you have a republic … if you can keep it.”
Roger-Wicker– Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker is a former President of the Ole Miss Associated Student Body.

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