This is a quick follow-up to the two earlier posts (found here and here) concerning the recent budget debate.
First, it has come to light that the measly $38.5 billion cut which the Republicans have been touting as a great victory actually amounts to a lot of bookkeeping tricks, and that the real cut amounts to only $352 million.1 This is less than 1% of the claimed cuts, and only a mere 0.02% of the federal budget deficit for 2011. Wow, Rep. Boehner, you hardcore fiscal conservative, that’s quite the budget cut!
Secondly, Mr. Obama is using one of President Bush’s favorite unconstitutional tactics to usurp power from the legislative branch.2 The tactic in question involves the use of “signing statements”: statements attached to bills that a president signs into law. These statements were “generally triumphal, rhetorical, or political proclamations” and only sparsely used until President Bush began using them in massive numbers to actually modify or even nullify parts of the bills he was signing into law.3 This was, of course, a blatant usurpation of power by the executive branch; the executive branch has no power to directly write legislation. However, mainstream conservatives turned a blind eye to this practice, because President Bush was “one of us” and was sticking it to the Democrats. But now, Mr. Obama is using this as precedent to nullify parts of the budget he doesn’t like, in particular, the defunding of his so called “czars.” The ironic twist is that in 2007, then-Senator Obama was very much opposed to President Bush’s use of signing statements, and he promised not to do the same if elected.
I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law. The problem with [the Bush] administration is that it has attached signing statements to legislation in an effort to change the meaning of the legislation, to avoid enforcing certain provisions of the legislation that the President does not like, and to raise implausible or dubious constitutional objections to the legislation. The fact that President Bush has issued signing statements to challenge over 1100 laws – more than any president in history – is a clear abuse of this prerogative. No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president’s constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush Administration has gone much further than that.4
But Mr. Obama’s penchant for lying is hardly a shocking revelation.
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/cbo-budget-deal-cuts-this-fiscal-years-deficit-by-just-353-million-not-38-billion-touted/2011/04/13/AFFJnkWD_story.html ↩
- http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2011/04/president-obama-issues-signing-statement-indicating-he-wont-abide-by-provision-in-budget-bill.html ↩
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signing_statement ↩
- http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/specials/CandidateQA/ObamaQA/ ↩