In the face of a crumbling economy and a massive deficit problem, President Barack Obama has given into the desire to use executive power to surpass congressional obstructionism. But with an ineffective Congress unwilling to put their differences aside and solve America’s economic problems, this may be a necessary step.
With the country teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and the economy capable of taking yet another dip into an even deeper recession, the president has no other option but to grab the reins from Congress and steer for safety.
As a senator and on the campaign trail for his presidency, Obama had previously criticized President George W. Bush’s gross abuse of executive power, according to The New York Times. So as a gesture of good will on entering office he shrugged off his massive base of supporters in order to work with Congress and to help his bipartisan efforts. Despite this, Obama did not foresee two outcomes which would block his motives for unitary action.
The first was a push of obstructionism by the Republican Party policy when Obama took office in order to make him look ineffective. Secondly, the Tea Party movement put candidates into Congress with the sole philosophy of acquiring what they wanted and stopping everything else.
These plans of action have formed one of the worst Congresses in U.S. history. Their track record consists of a record drop in the country’s credit rating, failure to pass a real budget in a timely fashion, a temporary government shutdown scare, and on top of all of this, the failure of the Super Committee to make significant cuts to our budget.
Congress has thus ceased to function appropriately; the partisan divide becoming a gaping chasm into which both parties’ grand schemes have fallen to ruin.
The thought of a president temporarily hijacking the government is scary. This would be far from the first time that a president has taken drastic measures to ensure the health and welfare of our country. Obama would only be issuing executive orders to push budget cuts and create jobs — not suspending the right to habeas corpus like Abraham Lincoln or seizing the automobile industry to produce weapons of war like Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Admittedly, Obama has issued an incredible amount of executive orders, 116 in only four years, almost meeting Bushes 166 in his first term, according to the National Archives. His first steps toward thwarting Congress took place when he issued an executive order putting the “Pay As You Earn” program in action, which aimed to help with student loans, according to The New York Times. It also happened when the president appointed four officials even though the Senate was technically still in pro forma session. The president has the power of appointment if offices become vacant while the Senate is in recess, but during a pro forma session, someone comes in every three days to bang the gavel.
None of these actions pose a threat toward the continuation of our democracy, but rather stand in the way of a Congress that has acted recklessly and endangered the welfare of our nation. Despite obvious failures to accomplish anything, Republicans actually believe they have “won” in the political arena against the Democrats on spending, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Therefore, this election cycle Americans need to send a clear message to the Republican Party that they do not support a policy of obstructionism and that both parties should compromise. Until then, the most we can hope for is to support Obama in his efforts to salvage the wreckage which is the national budget and relent to a little executive action in the face of a damaged economy.