Last week, the President shredded yet another provision of the U.S. Constitution. He used an unconstitutional procedure to install Richard Cordray as head of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Richard Griffin, Sharon Block and Terence Flynn to be on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Obama installed them claiming his constitutional power to make recess appointments. Only problem is, the Senate isn’t in recess.
The President has ignored the clear words of the Constitution. As The Heritage Foundation’s Todd Gaziano wrote, “The Constitution, in Article I, section 5, plainly states that neither house of Congress can recess for more than three days without the consent of the other house.” Congress has been in session conducting business every few days.
Gaziano further observes that the President’s power under Article II to make recess appointments “has been interpreted by scores of attorneys general and their designees in the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) for over 100 years to require an official, legal Senate recess of at least 10–25 days of duration.” The Senate is not even in a recess, therefore the President has abused his power.
This is an effort to circumvent the explicit language in Article II that the President can appoint officials only with the “Advice and Consent” of the Senate. Let’s hope that conservatives in the House and Senate do anything and everything in their power to fight this unconstitutional power grab.
American troops sent to unemployment lines
Last week we learned that President Obama was releasing high-ranking Taliban officials from Guantanamo Bay and will cut tens of thousands of ground troops from the Pentagon budget. The Obama Doctrine—retreating from the battlefield and gutting defense—is expected to be on full display in 2012.
It appears that the administration is so desperate to open negotiations with the Taliban that they may be willing to release high-risk detainee Mohammed Fazi, as well as other Taliban detainees. Add in the announcement last week that President Obama is cutting the defense budget and it looks as if the United States is in full retreat from Afghanistan. Will other countries continue to look at the United States as the leader of the free world?
Debt limit increase
The President is expected to request a debt limit increase of $1.2 trillion very soon. The law that allowed the debt limit to increase stipulated that Congress shall have the power to block another increase in the debt ceiling through a complicated resolution of disapproval process. Both chambers would have to pass the resolution, which is unlikely with the Senate in Democratic control. Expect a few votes in the House and Senate before the end of January on this issue.
Payroll tax fight looming
When the Senate comes back, it will have to deal with the expiring payroll tax holiday, an extension of unemployment benefits and Medicare payments to doctors (Doc Fix) through the end of February. Specifically, the short-term deal that continued the reduction of the Social Security tax rate to 4.2%, continued benefits for those unemployed for more than half a year and suspended another temporary cut in the reimbursement rate for doctors who treat patients under Medicare.
There is also a provision that forces the President to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, but it is expected that the President will come up with an excuse to block the pipeline so as not to anger radical environmentalists. This action will also kill American jobs, but the only job President Obama seems to care about these days is his own.
Part of the temporary payroll tax deal was for the Senate and House to enter into official conference committee negotiations on a bill that would extend these provisions to the end of the year. Conservatives are going to continue to fight for offsets to the new spending in the bill. If they offset all of the spending programs and the tax cut, then we are talking about $150 billion in cuts to spending to pay for a year-long deal.
The problem with this Congress is that members don’t like to cut spending. Expect another manufactured crisis at the end of February.
Attorney General Holder in trouble
Troubled Atty. Gen. Eric Holder is scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in February on the Fast and the Furious scandal. The Justice Department claims there has been too much oversight on this gun-running scandal.
The American people still don’t have answers to some fundamental questions and the attorney general has been less than honest in prior testimony under oath. This will be an important test of an attorney general whom many lawmakers have called upon to resign.
Brian H. Darling is a senior fellow at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in Human Events