“Just ignore him.”
“He is only trying to get a rise out of you.”
How many of us were told this by our parents when we were growing up? Probably many of us, since there is always a bully or another kid craving attention.
Enter President Obama.
Politico reports today that the President wants a debt deal out of Congress by tomorrow. For weeks the President has been calling congressional leaders to meet with him to hash out a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling with meaningless spending cuts and higher taxes.
Sadly, Congress has acquiesced to the President’s requests.
What do we expect from leaders like Mitch McConnell who try to abdicate Congressional authority to the President to raise the debt ceiling on his own? What do we expect from a Congress that hasn’t debated drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia?
Simply put, the President is only getting attention out of the debt talks because Congress allows him to. GOP leaders Cantor and Boehner have allowed themselves to be bullied by the President. Constitutionally, the President has no role in this process other than to sign or veto whatever Congress presents to him. Of course, Congress can then override a his veto with a two thirds majority.
Article 1 Section 7 clearly states that only Congress can raise taxes. If Obama wants more money from the American people, he had better hope Congress includes tax increases of their own accord. While, in extraordinary circumstances, the President can convene and adjourn Congress, the Constitution only allows the President to state his preferences to Congress during a State of the Union speech. Since Congress is in session and the State of the Union has already taken place this year, the President should be silent on the debt debate. Even the 14th Amendment, which deals with the debt, states that Congress, not the President, has the power to enforce the provisions of the Amendment.
Senator Rand Paul has called on the President to apologize for insinuating the government would not mail Social Security checks in August without a debt deal. He’s right that Obama is fearmongering. However, Senator Paul erroneously calls on the President to lead: He should instead get out of the way.
Congress can and should also assure the American people that the President’s demagoguery and scare tactics are nothing more than hot air. They control the purse strings. In the absence of increased borrowing, Congress will be responsible for deciding how revenues are spent.
It’s past time for Congress to show some backbone. GOP leaders must use their Constitutional authority and refuse to let the President set the agenda on legislative matters. This debate should happen on the floor of the House and the Senate, and Congress should vote according to the will of the people.
The ever-expanding power of the executive branch has set dangerous precedent. The President chose to wage war without congressional approval in Libya. If Congress does not stand up for its own legislative authority, how long before the President ignores them completely?Published in