April 16, 2011

Obama Channels Nixon: You Can’t Legislate My Czars Away, Because I Am the President (Updates: Vid of Obama Signing-Statement Promise, and RWR Considers Impeachability)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:55 am

Via Jake Tapper (HT Althouse via Instapundit; internal link is in original; bolds are mine):

President Obama Issues “Signing Statement” Indicating He Won’t Abide by Provision in Budget Bill

One rider – Section 2262 — de-funds certain White House adviser positions – or “czars.” The president in his signing statement declares that he will not abide by it.

“The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority,” he wrote. “The President also has the prerogative to obtain advice that will assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities, and do so not only from executive branch officials and employees outside the White House, but also from advisers within it. Legislative efforts that significantly impede the President’s ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers by undermining the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Therefore, the president wrote, “the executive branch will construe section 2262 not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.”

In other words: we know what you wanted that provision to do, but we don’t think it’s constitutional, so we will interpret it differently than the way you meant it.

During his presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama was quite critical of the Bush administration’s uses of signing statements telling the Boston Globe in 2007 that 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.”

Then-Sen. Obama said he would “not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.”

Maybe somebody has an answer to this: If Congress has truly de-funded the czar positions, how is the Executive Branch going to pay them? With Bernanke bucks?


UPDATE: Via Rhymes with Right answers the previous question, and has more —


Good points. Generally hard to argue, though one would need to come up with more offenses to meet the plural standard in “misdemeanors.” Maybe each decision to cut an unauthorized check or send an unauthorized bank draft would represent an individual misdemeanor.

If this were Nixon or any other Republican or conservative president, these and other matters relating to the “signing statement” would have been hammered in the press for the remainder of the president’s time in office.


UPDATE 2: Obama’s direct promise in answering a campaign question on signing statements in 2008 (HT to an e-mailer) —

The key statement, beginning at 0:50, criticizing George W. Bush’s use of signing statements and promising that he won’t use them:

He’s been saying, “Well, I can basically change what Congress passed by attaching a letter saying ‘I don’t agree with this part’ or ‘I don’t agree with that part’ (or) ‘I’m going to choose to interpret it this way or that way.’”

That’s not part of his power. But this is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he’s goin’ along. I disagree with that. I taught the Constitution for ten years. I believe in the Constitution, and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress.

It’s as obvious a promise-break as you’ll ever see.



  1. This is as good a reason as any other excuse to get rid of the poseur. Actually, it’s quite eligant in it’s simiplicity. Obama first acknowledges what Congress has legislated and then wilfully disregards the law. There really isn’t any gray area here since he gave his rationalization for breaking the law so he can’t claim ignorance or everyone does like he did with the Sestak affair. If Boehner doesn’t take advantage of this then we pretty much should give up on the idea of the Rule of Law given Obama’s numerous other infractions. If the law doesn’t apply to Obama then what we have is a dictatorship with Obama just waiting for the opportune moment to bait and declare the GOP or Tea party as attempting a coup to complete his lengthy list of unlawful acts.

    Comment by dscott — April 16, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  2. [...] President’s clearly anti-constitutional signing statement insisting on preserving his czars in direct defiance of Congress, which specifically de-funded [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — April 17, 2011 @ 10:17 am

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