April 11, 2011

April 11, 2011 | Commentary on Political Thought

Big Government Shut-Down, Libya

Big Government Shut-Down

Liberals weren’t happy last week to see their plans to expand government dashed. 

Conservatives dared to push for spending cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year.  Both sides disagreed on the level of cuts, of course, but it’s still good to see Congress finally cutting government, rather than following President Obama’s roadmap to European-style socialism.

The debt limit is supposed to be increased by more than $14.29 trillion over the next few weeks and conservatives will have another chance to shut down big government.  It is possible for conservatives to use the debt-limit increase  as leverage to force Congress to adopt a balanced budget amendment or another procedural mechanism to limit spending.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the House Republican Study Committee are pushing budget plans that cut the Obama idea of big government down to size.  It’s time to furlough liberal big-spending ideas.

Presidential Power


A fascinating thing happened in the Senate last week.

Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) offered a Sense of the Senate amendment that “the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” Every single Democrat voted against the amendment, including lefties such as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) and Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt).

On Feb. 15, 2007, Sanders sang from a different song sheet.  He introduced S. Con. Res 13, expressing a Sense of the Congress that the President shouldn’t initiate military action against Iran without first obtaining authorization from Congress.

According to the Sanders’ resolution, “in reality, nothing in the history of the ‘Commander in Chief’ clause suggests that the authors of the provision intended it to grant the executive branch the authority to engage United States forces in military action without any prior authorization from Congress, except to allow the President to repel sudden attacks and immediate threats.”

Then-Sen. Barack Obama agreed.  That same year, the future President told the Boston Globe that “the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

But that was then, and this is now, right?

Senate Request for No-Fly Zone Changed

Conn Carroll reports for the Washington Examiner that the Senate passed a resolution on March 1 by unanimous consent calling for a no-fly zone in Libya.  Unfortunately, some senators thought they were merely consenting to a resolution calling for increased human rights for the people of Libya, not a resolution calling on the UN to implement a no-fly zone.  At some point during the legislative process, the resolution was modified.  Not all senators were aware that language was added calling for the UN to implement a no-fly zone over Libya.

Sen. Mike Lee (R.-Utah) told the Examiner that the process used to get this resolution through the Senate was an attempt to “bait and switch the country into a military conflict.”  At a minimum, this resolution should have been the subject of extensive debate before it was allowed to pass the Senate by unanimous consent.  The Obama Administration shouldn’t use this flawed resolution as a fig leaf to claim that the Senate consented to the President’s military actions overseas.

Dismantle Fannie and Freddie

A House committee considered legislation to dismantle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last week, and the full House is expected to consider these legislative items later in the year.

Fannie and Freddie, two government-sponsored enterprises owned and run by bureaucrats in the Obama Administration, have lost American  taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. Rep.  Jeb Hensarling (R.-Tex.) has led the fight to save the taxpayers from the terrible business decisions of these two government-run giants in the mortgage-asset market.  Conservatives hope that Congress shuts them down and sells those assets back to the private sector.

Cheers to Sen. Tom Coburn


Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) forced the Senate to vote to cut $5 billion from the federal budget last week.  Senators unanimously agreed with Coburn that $20 million should be saved by preventing millionaires from collecting unemployment benefits.  Cheers to Sen. Coburn for saving taxpayer dollars with every vote he forces in the Senate.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies
Government Studies

Related Issues: Political Thought

First appeared in Human Events