Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"ALL LEGISLATIVE POWERS HEREIN GRANTED SHALL BE VESTED IN A CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES"

A.P. reports on a brewing controversy within Washington's halls of power: the President vs. Congress regarding the subject of abuses of executive power, in this case the White House's use of "presidential statements," unsusceptible to congressional checks because they're not actually "laws."

Confused? That's the purpose. Normally, as we all learned on Schoolhouse Rock, Congress bicamerally passes a bill, which achieves the power of law once signed by the big fella in the Oval Office. And, being the "law of the land," he and his Administration are bound by its tenets. No problem.

But Bush, who has yet to issue a single veto in five years, has promulgated a series of "statements" that he and White House lawyers claim he's not bound to obey. Yes, that's right: make statements that they intend for all Americans to follow, upon which Congress (holding the governmental purse strings) should spend, spend, spend. But . . . whatever it is he's declared, he and his cronies on Pennsylvania Avenue & in Foggy Bottom, they can choose not to follow these "statements" because they lack the force of law.

It's that cynical. But you know who I blame for this debacle?

Congress.

It's Congress -- both houses, both parties -- who've handed the reins of legislative power to the President, and now that he's showing weakness at the polls, they're turning to attack him, to protect the very perks they've handed off.

I'm on Congress' side as far as the contemporary battle goes. I hope these hearings end with a chastened President, and a shift in lawmaking power back to the legislature, where it belongs. But I won't forget Congress' shameless neglect of its Constitutional duties over the past half decade.

And neither should you. Unless your Rep or Senator admits his or her mistake in allowing this nonsense to occur, and promises to vote in favor of impeachment/conviction, then we should toss em out in November.

3 Comments:

Blogger DED said...

I second the motion.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Crank said...

Mike, there is nothing either wrong or unusual with presidential signing statements. Presidents have been using them for years to argue for their view of the law. Heck, Clinton once used a signing statement to try to retroactively alter the meaning of an entirely different law enacted 3 years earlier (over his veto!). But they have as little or less practical effect than, say, statements in the Congressional Record.

Argue if you will with Bush's non-compliance with statutes he views as unconsitutional, but the signing statements themselves are a huge red herring.

For more, I refer you to each and every comment by Leon Wolf on this comment thread.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Mr. Wolf certainly has weighed on on this topic.

I don't see that what he says goes against my two main points: Bush is trying to accomplish via Signing Statements what Congress can't/won't through legislative processes, and *most importantly* that both parties, in both houses of Congress, have been abnegating their duties for 5 years.

The deferential stance taken towards Bush & his Statements is but one example.

And as for my November Prescription, I stand by it. Like all prescriptions, it may be illegible and reflect self-interest, but that's how it goes.

1:51 PM  

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