Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Every 3rd Grader (But No Republican) Knows: POTUS Decides How to Enforce Laws

There’s something that’s been sticking in my craw lately, every time I hear a right-wing politician or pundit on a TV show or in an interview and they start throwing the term “lawless” around.
They also like using “imperial” to describe him. This is of course not a new attack on a president. Literally every single president has been accused of overstepping his constitutional bounds, or has been told they are acting in kingly, imperial fashion. Washington rode his own horse ahead of the army to bust up the Whiskey Rebellion, and Lincoln was called a war monger just as much then as he is by history revisionist, slaver apologists now. When Honest Abe suspended habeas corpus, his opponents were shocked and outraged. Imagine if Obama were to just declare a key tenet of the Constitution invalid, claiming his executive authority to do so.
But what irks me about the criticism of Obama in terms how his administration is implementing and enforcing the Affordable Care Act is that the implementation and enforcement of a law is his precise Constitutional duty. Every time I hear Ted Cruz or Rand Paul bleat on about how lawless the president is for delaying certain aspects and deadlines associated with Obamacare, I flash back to my very first lesson in American government, in third grade. We learned about the three-tiered government we lived under, and what each tier’s job descriptions were.
1. The Legislative Branch (Congress) — Congress writes and passes bills through their bicameral legislature, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and sends them to the President’s desk to be signed or vetoed. 
2. The Executive Branch (POTUS) — The President signs bills passed through Congress and decides how best to enforce the laws they become.
3. The Judicial Branch (SCOTUS) — The Supreme Court decides whether laws passed by Congress and signed by the President are constitutional or not.
Yes, this is indeed a very, very basic outline of our three branch government, but it’s as plain as the derp in Louie Gohmert’s brain that there are a lot of Republicans and right-wing pundits that need a refresher course on this stuff. It would be one thing if Obama flat-out refused to enforce his own health care law at all; that would be clearly unconstitutional and even I would have no problem with articles of impeachment being drafted, but that’s now that Obama is doing. Instead, he is through his designated officers and agencies, selecting the most prudent way — in his view — to execute the ACA. This is not only constitutional, it’s exactly how the process — per the Constitution — is supposed to work.
Article Two of the Constitution contains the “instruction manual” for the presidency, if you will. In it, the entire office is described, from how we elect the president all the way down to what his duties and responsibilities are. Contained within Article II is the “Take Care” or “Faithful Execution” clause. If you’ve heard the oath of office that presidents take on their inauguration days, you’ve heard “faithful execute” before.
The Take Care Clause specifically deals with the president’s duty to execute and enforce the laws of the land. Indeed, the clause forces the president to faithfully execute the laws that he signs onto the books, even if he disagrees with them. Since they gave the president veto powers, the founders likely felt that if he’s signing the law onto the books, he was going to have no problem executing that same law. Of course, they also gave Congress the authority to override a veto, provided they muster enough votes in the Senate, so they wanted to make sure the president was bound by the duties of the office to execute even the laws he may not agree with.
However, nowhere in the Constitution does it give a specific instruction that every law must be executed according to Congress’ desires. In fact, very specifically the role of enforcement is not that of Congress. All Congress gets to do is draft, debate and pass or kill the bills. Not that this has kept just about every session of Congress from grousing about how the president is executing their laws, but the idea is still very simple: Congress writes ‘em and the President enforces ‘em.
The funny thing is that there are so many legitimate places for concern, and yes critique of President Obama’s handling of the laws. His weird desire to apparently permanently ensconce certain aspects of the War on Terror — drone strikes for instance — is a place where I think a Congressional representative would have a valid complaint, since it’s hard to imagine that the spirit of the Constitution is cool with killing any American without a trial. But once again, it’s the periphery issues that are snagging the ideologues’ attention, and they’re not even fighting a fight the Constitution says that they can fight.
The Affordable Care Act will only be improved if both sides of the aisle are honest about its impacts, but whether or not the White House decides to delay certain aspects of the law is not really something that will move the ball forward. This might be the right’s motivation all along, to just simply gum up the works with more rhetoric and political theater, I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is that I’m sick to death of hearing Republicans yell into the ether about the president being lawless or tyrannical because he’s doing what every president does, and is supposed to do per the Constitution. Delaying implementation of a deadline or aspect of a law is simply the president — any president — exercising their executive powers in determining how best to enforce a law. The Department of Justice — the governmental agency most central to the execution and enforcement of the laws — falls under the president’s jurisdiction for a reason.
If Republicans and conservatives are so hand-wringy about the way the guy in the White House is executing laws, they have the methods at their disposal to rectify the situation, and no it’s not impeachment. If Republicans and conservatives want the president to enforce the laws the way they want them to be enforced, all they have to do is put a Republican in the White House. Of course, they may want to stop calling rape “gifts from God,” and they probably better start at least trying to be nicer to brown people, and maybe a little less hell fire, damnation and discrimination for the gay and transgender people if they’re going to go that route…
…so expect them to just keep calling him a lawless usurper. That other way’s way too much work for them.
- See more at: http://www.politicalgarbagechute.com/every-3rd-grader-but-no-republican-knows-potus-decides-how-to-enforce-laws/#sthash.vlgyrVyY.dpuf

No comments: