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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Congress’ unconscionable silence at president’s power grabs -- By Andrew P. Napolitano, The Washington Times

 (Illustration by Alexander Hunter, The Washington Times)


Illustration by Alexander Hunter/The Washington TimesObama becomes imperial president without Republican resistance 

The political philosopher Edmund Burke once remarked that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good folks to do nothing.


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Yet in President Obama we have a president whose personal interferences in the enforcement of federal laws reveal his view that he can rewrite them and even nullify them.

Presidential law-writing violates the presidential oath of office, steals power from Congress, disrespects an equal branch of government and, when unchecked, accumulates such power in the executive branch that it effectively transforms the president into a menacing tyrant who rejects his constitutional obligations and limitations.

Mr. Obama bombed Libya without a declaration of war from Congress. This arguably brought down the Gadhafi government, which led to the current state of lawlessness there, produced the environment in which our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi in 2012, and established a dangerous precedent because Congress remained officially silent.

He has told the 11 million illegal immigrants who are here and subject to deportation that if they comply with a new set of rules, they will not be deported.

The constitutional problem is that the president wrote those rules. Only Congress can craft such rules, and by the president's doing so, he has schooled immigrants in how to avoid compliance with federal law.

The president has used drones to kill Americans, but claims he has done so lawfully because he complied with secret rules that he crafted.

Under the Constitution, if the president wants someone dead, he must afford the person due process or ask Congress to declare war on the country housing the person. No worries, he says — he has followed the secret rules that he wrote to govern himself when deciding whom to kill.

The president's agents now acknowledge that they spy on all of us all the time, including members of the judiciary and Congress.

This, too, was done pursuant to a secret presidential directive, secretly approved by judges acting as clerks and not under the Constitution, and by a dozen members of Congress sworn to secrecy. No law authorized this, and the president won't discuss it meaningfully, except to condemn its revelation.

In a series of salvos that hit home, the president has modified Obamacare 29 times, by changing its various dates of effectiveness for some but not for others, by changing the meanings of terms for some but not for others, and even by diluting the signature obligation we all have to obtain the platinum insurance policies it commands for some and not for others.

He has done all of this on his own, with no input from Congress. He has even threatened to veto any congressional effort to enact into law the very changes he alone has made.

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Broad Leaf Potted Plant 3D Model While all of this is going on, Congress largely sits as a potted plant. In the Senate, Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have complained long and loud, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not permit legislation to address presidential lawlessness to reach the Senate floor.

A few dozen Republicans in the House have complained, but Speaker John A. Boehner will not permit the House to address corrective legislation. Institutionally and officially, Congress is sleeping.

Can you imagine how a Democratic Congress would have reacted if Ronald Reagan had instructed the Internal Revenue Service to cease collecting capital-gains taxes so as to spur economic activity, or how a Republican Congress would have reacted if Bill Clinton had instructed the IRS to add a 1 percent rate increase to the tax bills of billionaires so as to close a budget gap?

These are dangerous times because this is a lawless presidency and a pliant Congress. The president's willingness to violate the Constitution publicly calls into question his fitness for office. That deafening silence from Capitol Hill manifests a spineless refusal to preserve constitutional government.

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