Is Obama An “Imperial President”?
There’s been quite a bit of discussion over Obama’s use of presidential authority: signing statements, executive orders, changing rules (many of which were established by his own administration), changing parts of laws, refusing to defend laws passed by the United States Congress, and generally just doing whatever he wants. The notion of Obama being an imperial president has grown particularly since the 2014 SOTU, wherein he specifically stated he would bypass Congress unless they Gave Him What He Wanted. But, how true is this notion? Well, remember that Liberals constantly complained about George W Bush, calling him a tyrant, a king, a fascist, a dictator
It’s generally former President George W. Bush that gets hammered for overreaching his executive authority, but the CSM article lays out evidence showing that President Barack Obama has gone far beyond his predecessor.
While Bush and Obama have issued roughly the same number of executive orders in their first five years as president, the scope of Obama’s actions are more far-reaching than Bush’s.
“It’s really the character of the actions, and their subject,” Jonathan Turley, a constitutional scholar at George Washington University, told the CSM. “In my view, Obama has surpassed George W. Bush in the level of circumvention of Congress and the assertion of excessive presidential power. I don’t think it’s a close question.”
Let’s be clear: Conservatives were not happy with Bush’s expansion of government, including through the use of the powers of the office of President. Consider, though: Bush went to Congress for both Iraq and Afghanistan. He even went to the United Nations for Iraq. Regarding Afghanistan, few would have complained had he just sent military units to attack al Qaeda and the Taliban under the War Powers Act, post-9/11. Obama, on the other hand, unilaterally attacked Libya (with apparently no plan other than bomb bomb bomb) without even the courtesy of informing Congress. Heck, he was in another nation and didn’t bother calling Congressional leaders of either party. He’s also deployed US forces, both drones, air assets, and boots on the ground, to nations around Africa, the Mid East, and Asia. He certainly has the power to do that, yet he doesn’t seem to discuss this with Congress at all.
There is no doubt that the scope of executive authority was greatly expanded under Bush, especially with the passage of the Patriot Act. But Obama has not done away with any of Bush’s expansions of executive power – if anything Obama has continued to expand the power of his office.
Obviously, the Patriot Act was passed by Congress. Yet, Obama has expanded the power of the office after complained for years about Bush’s use of that power, particularly when he started running for POTUS. NSA, anyone? Has he attempted to roll back anything? No.
He’s changed the law on illegals, ordering “prosecutorial discretion” on young illegals. Refusing to defend laws like DOMA. Pushing federal funds for abortions despite legislation that says otherwise. Refusing to follow federal law on marijuana, as states expand what they will allow. All the rules and proclamations from the EPA. He’s effectively banned any new coal plants, and has made it so many, if not most or all, of existing plants will close. And so many others, that have a negative effect on American citizens
“Obama’s not interpreting the law; he’s changing the law. He’s changing deadlines that were the subject of intense legislative debate,” said Turley, who disclosed that he voted for Obama. “President Obama meets every definition of an imperial presidency. He is the president that Richard Nixon always wanted to be.”
That was in relation to Obamacare. Really, that could be expanded to cover quite a bit of his presidency. Orders on gun control, changes to Obamacare, and so many others. And now that he’s made his unilateral presidency official during the SOTU, expect more. Mr. Constitutional Scholar doesn’t seem too interested in actually working through the legislative process. Schmoozing, wheedling, working the phones, simply just reaching out, seem to be beyond Mr. Obama. The power of the office has gone to his head.
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