Do We Even Need Congress Any More?
Signing statements were wrong enough… Now Bush is saying “if Congress won’t do it, I’ll do it myself“:
Under mounting pressure to act, the Bush administration said Friday it was ready to step in and prevent the U.S. auto industry from collapsing after the Senate refused to pass a rescue bill endorsed by the White House and congressional Democrats. The most obvious source of help was the Wall Street bailout fund.
“The current weakened state of the economy is such that it could not withstand a body blow like a disorderly bankruptcy in the auto industry,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said.
Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin said, “Because Congress failed to act, we will stand ready to prevent an imminent failure until Congress reconvenes and acts to address the long-term viability of the industry.”
The Bush administration has repeatedly said the Wall Street bailout fund should not be used for emergency aid to the automakers because it was designed to restore stability to the financial sector. But with the Senate’s action, Detroit’s supporters looked to the White House for help.
I think I’ve seen this before. My son isn’t quite old enough to use this tactic, but I think most children figure it out pretty quickly. If Mommy says no, go ask Daddy.
This is how an imperial presidency behaves. Bush believes that he should be able to get what he wants, and that Congress exists to enact his goals into law. When they don’t see it the same way, rather than accepting that a legislature (which should rightfully hold the purse strings) has decided not to play along, he simply decides to do it anyway.
If this is the way things work, isn’t Congress just there for show?
“Aha!”, you say, “Bush won’t be around more than another month, so things will get better when we don’t have someone who wants to expand Presidential authority!” Think again:
President-elect Barack Obama said he was disappointed that the Senate failed to act. “My hope is that the administration and the Congress will still find a way to give the industry the temporary assistance it needs while demanding the long-term-restructuring that is absolutely required,” he said in a statement.
Well, President-elect, Congress pretty clearly said they’re not going to do it. Does that grant the President authority to do it anyway? Would your answer be any different if you weren’t the President-elect?
I think what Obama’s saying, since it’s such a short remaining tenure for his predecessor, is this: “I’m not a believer in the strong executive powers that Bush has taken. However, I can no longer argue against them, because I see a lot of wonderful ways to use them myself.”
Congress may be useless, but I don’t in any way support the President simply doing an end-run around their responsibilities when he doesn’t like what they have to say.