This Week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ Award
“When Congress refuses to act, and as a result hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them. I’ve got an obligation to act on behalf of the American people. I will not stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people they were elected to serve. Not when so much is at stake. Not at this make-or-break moment for the middle class. I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer.” –Chairman Obama
News From the Swamp: New Year Same as Last Year
Barack Obama didn’t get in as much golf as he wanted during his holiday vacation in Hawaii, but he still managed to break a record in 2011 by hitting the links a total of 34 times. Surely he would have gotten to play more had it not been for his being stuck in Washington before Christmas, waiting to sign a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. Despite early opposition, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had held out for a full-year extension, which was what Obama had originally called for, but the Democrat-controlled Senate and the president flip-flopped to conspire against it. They touted the righteousness of their two-month tax cut, but small business owners, large corporations, payroll companies, and working men and women now have to contend with this 60-day farce that may or may not be extended beyond February.
Heading into the New Year’s holiday weekend, Obama indicated that one of his resolutions for 2012 will be to continue spending and leave Americans with the bill. He briefly called for a $1.2 trillion extension in the debt ceiling, which would add $4,000 to the slice of government debt owed by every American citizen. It might be hard to cover that with the relative pocket change that came from the tax cut. The president delayed his request, however, when it became clear that Congress wanted to deliberate the issue when it reconvenes later this month.
Debate hardly seems worthwhile. No matter what Congress does, an automatic hike is scheduled as part of the prior debt deal, and for all the posturing in Washington in 2011 about reining in runaway spending, absolutely nothing was accomplished. The federal government currently overspends by $4 billion every single day. Every year Obama has been in office has brought trillion-dollar-plus budget deficits. Federal outlays in fiscal 2012 are projected to be $3.65 trillion, up from last year’s $3.6 trillion. The August debt agreement trimmed only $7 billion in spending, and just 28 programs were cut out from among the thousands of items in the budget. All the while, Democrats continue resolutely to reject any meaningful cuts or reforms to the entitlements that are driving America’s fiscal nightmare.
Hope ‘n’ Change: Recess Appointment
Barack Obama’s attempt to make an end run around Congress may just lead to a constitutional showdown. As part of his strategy to demonize Congress, or more specifically Republicans in Congress, he made four recess appointments this week, three to the National Labor Relations Board, and one to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The problem is that Congress is not technically in recess, which means constitutional problems for the president. Since the Constitution states that neither chamber of Congress can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other chamber, Republicans have engaged in a pro forma session to prevent the type of recess appointments that Obama believes he can make.
Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and a number of Democrat lawyers maintain that the president can make recess appointments regardless of the pro forma session. Of course, they held the opposite view during the Bush years, when Obama and his fellow Democrats held their own pro forma session to keep recess appointments at bay. The option to challenge Obama’s actions may rest in the private sector rather than with Republicans. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long opposed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s unchecked powers, and once new chief Richard Cordray starts ripping and tearing at American banks as expected, the Chamber is likely to be the group that steps forward with a lawsuit against Obama’s extra-constitutional activities.
Obama Finally Gets Around to Remembering Pearl Harbor
For most of us, particularly the rapidly dwindling survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, its 70th anniversary made us pause for reflection and remembrance. Barack Obama, however, constantly in search of the photo op, waited until the week after Christmas while on his taxpayer funded vacation on Oahu to lay a wreath in a brief ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial. The event was, predictably, sandwiched between relaxing at the beach and several rounds of golf.
So what did Obama do on Dec. 7 itself? His schedule that day included meetings with Democrat Senate leadership and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and, of course, a fundraiser. While we wouldn’t necessarily want him to make a special trip to Hawaii on our dime just to lay a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial, a few words at the World War II Memorial in Washington would have been more appropriate than commemoration when convenient.