Monday, December 29, 2014

Stopping Obama's Executive Orders

I've said before that there is only one way to stop the left from doing something. That is to take the very tools they create and use those tools against them. Logic, human nature and history all suggest this is true. Why am I raising this point? Because there is only one way to stop Obama's executive orders on immigration, global warming and whatever else: turn his usurpation of power against the Democrats. Let's discuss.

Let us begin with a quick history lesson. The Democrats were fine impounding money until Richard Nixon did it to their favorite programs. They invented the special prosecutor and used it with abandon against Reagan and Bush. They only changed their minds when the Republicans used it against Clinton. Then they raced to kill it. They happily used the Department of Education to nationalize education as they saw fit... until Bush used the same tools they created to impose his views on the country's education system. Suddenly, the Democrats discovered a deep love of state's rights and they demanded an end to federal interference. They loved judicial activism, until conservative judges began using the same tools to reverse liberal laws. The examples go on and on, on many levels. In each instance, the Democrats created some new lever of power which they used to impose their will on the system and an unwilling people, and they only gave up that power when the Republicans finally started using it against them... nothing else stopped them.

Indeed, in each instance, nothing short of the Republicans using this new power against liberal interests had the slightest effect on them. The conservative response typically began with hand-ringing about this being an abuse of power or illegal. Liberals laughed it off. Then conservatives tried to find ways to cut off funding or pass laws to stop the abuse. Again, liberals laughed. Why? Because if conservatives succeeded, all they would achieve was stopping the left from winning more gains... nothing would be reversed. And if they failed, then the liberals could continue to win more gain. Basically, they won no matter what. It was only when conservatives finally started using this power to reverse liberal policies and impose conservative ones that liberals finally saw a real potential for harm to their cause and they rushed to kill these new powers.

Why this matters now is simple: Obama has created a new tool to impose his views on immigration and global warming on the country by Executive Order. The conservative response, as always, is to shout that this is illegal and to seek to cut funding or pass laws stopping Obama from doing this, harrumph! But as the above demonstrates, this is no threat to the Democrats. It's a win-win for them, with the worst case being that they get some of what they want.

That's why we need a change of strategy. To stop Obama, we need to make it clear that we will use the same tools of Executive-imposed non-enforcement to neuter their favorite environmental laws or affirmative action laws or Obamacare provisions. Sure, the Democrats can reverse those actions the next time they win the White House, but eight years of ignoring Obamacare, for example, would be more than fatal to the law. The Democrats will immediately see the risk to everything they have built in Washington and they will freak out and work their butts off to find a way to stop anyone from being able to do this.

That's how you stop Obama, by making it clear that the cost of his ideological tantrum will be the neutering of all the laws they cherish. In fact, some leftists are already worried about this.

BTW, as an aside, there is a real problem with what Obama has done on immigration. His administration may decide not enforce the laws, but he can't grant an amnesty. That means the next administration can still deport these people. Basically, the best he can achieve is to give these people a two year stay of execution. That's hardly going to be worth it to these people, especially if they need to out themselves to make it happen. By comparison, eight years of the IRS not enforcing the Obamacare penalty will crush the system's actuarial assumptions... so will eight years of slow-walking subsidies to insurance providers, etc.

As always, the Democrats have much more to lose from this than we do, provided conservatives are willing to fight fire with fire.



LL said...

The Democrats will live to regret ending the filibuster rule in the Senate...just another example of what you're discussing, and you're on point.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, Agreed. I think ending the filibuster was a huge mistake which the GOP will take advantage of. I hope they go further though and do as I say in the article. You can't stop somebody who is believes the ends justify the means by saying the means are bad. The only way to stop them is to turn that same weapon against them and make them feel the pain of their actions.

Anthony said...

Aside from the independent counsel (which scared the hell out of both sides because it was a dangerous 'independent' weapon neither could control) I can't really think of any political power that has been set aside.

Obama's incompetence made him a president without a Congress, but Republicans are going to hold Congress in 2016. Without a filibuster, it will be pretty easy for Republicans to pass stuff without involving many if an Democrats. If Congress will give you what you want and make it 'permanent' why bother with executive orders? The Republican president that embraces executive orders will be the same as Obama, a president facing a Congress they are unable or unwilling to work with.

Also worth keeping in mind is that who is objecting to and cheering novel uses of political power is contingent on whose ox is being gored and who is doing the goring. Very, very few people in real life care much about abstract principles.

To cite recent examples, Obama's IRS targeting conservative groups caused a furor among conservatives but liberals were fine with it. Obama's CIA hacking liberal Congressmen didn't bother conservatives, but it bothered liberals. Its worth noting liberal reactions were somewhat muted (they would have been calling for the resignation of the president rather than the head of the CIA if Obama wasn't a liberal).

Executive power has been growing since forever and both parties are fine with it in the right circumstances so I don't see executive orders going the way of the dodo anytime soon. Sure, presidents with compliant Congresses will talk smack about them (same way Obama once did), but that doesn't mean anything.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, The independent counsel law was the most glaring example, but another huge example was the No Child Left Behind Act. For decades, the left has been pushing to nationalize schools because they controlled the Department of Ed, so the changes all kept moving leftward. The conservative response was the pie in the sky idea of killing the DoEd. That wasn't possible and didn't threaten the Democrats, so they didn't care.

Then Bush used the same DoEd and the NCLB Act to push strongly conservative ideas onto schools. The left freaked out and has been screaming about state's rights ever since, while trying to shut down the DoEd's power.

There are other examples: Deficit spending only became a problem for the left when Reagan began spending the government's remaining spare change on conservative projects. Impoundment only became a problem when Nixon started choking off liberal programs. The left now screams about judicial activism, now that conservatives are openly reversing liberal laws and "finding new rights" in the constitution.

The point is that of course the only side to get upset is the side getting attacked, but the only way to stop someone like Obama from goring us is to make it clear that we will gore them back worse... a MAD doctrine to stop the abuse of power. Nothing short of that will cause the other side to think twice.

Anthony said...


I'm not saying that conservatives doing X won't cause liberals to complain (often using the same language conservatives did when liberals started doing it) but I don't think that it often causes them to set aside tools.

For example, you mentioned deficit spending, but while both sides complain about deficit spending when it is on the wrong thing, both are happy to do it for the right cause.

Obama is more concerned about his legacy and setting the table for 2016 than he is about long term policy implications, so I doubt the fact that down the line Republicans will return the favor will slow him any.

Kit said...


I think you might be right.

Anyway, McConnell made a promise that if Reid pulled the nuclear option on the filibuster (banning it in cases dealing w/ nominees) and the GOP grabbed the Senate in the November elections he would eliminate it completely.

Bob said...

Just a point I've been ruminating on lately: I don't think Obama has ever cared about anything other than himself. I don't think he cares about his legacy (he assumes rightly that the media will take care of that for him "the FIRST African-American President!); I don't think he cares about the Dem Party (2014 mid-terms); I don't think he cares about foreign policy (other than sticking it to Israel if he can); I don't think he cares about domestic terrorism (man-caused disasters, workplace violence, 'shout out to my Native American peeps', etc.); I don't think he cares about domestic policy other than to further his warped view of the world; He doesn't care about dead police (no comment on Sharpton, etc.).

I think he cares more about being seen as 'authentic' by the black power one of them, rather than as a conciliator to white liberals. That's the legacy he cares about. We've seen his ilk before. All he is, and all he has ever been, is a smooth talking black man who got by on his looks, his b.s. and the fact white liberals could point to him and say "see, I've got a black 'friend'...I'm cool."

His days as a community activist wielding the most powerful weapon around will soon be over. The rest of us have had it with his b.s. and we are not smiling.

AndrewPrice said...

Bob, I agree with you. I've never had the sense that Obama cares about anything other than himself. I think his goal now is to improve his legacy enough so he can get rich off the speaking tour thing and that's about it. I also don't think he's particularly ideological because I don't think he's ever bothered to develop an ideology other than "what gets me what I want."

Ironically, that helped him in 2008 because he sold himself as a blank slate and let people fill in their own blanks.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Kit.

Interestingly, I saw the most delusional article at Huffpo the other day. This guy actually wrote about how Harry Reid needs to stop being so gosh darn cooperative and start using the "60 vote rule" when they are in the minority. Seriously.

The author didn't seem to realize that this is called "a filibuster", that Reid plays hardball and always has, that Reid has been threatening it all along, or that Reid killed it to stop the Republicans or that the Republicans can kill the filibuster by a majority vote on the rules. He actually seemed to think that poor Harry was struggling to work with those evil Republicans and now finds himself helpless now that he's in the majority because he's just not willing to filibuster anything. Wow. Crazy.

It was bizarre.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, When the power is dangerous enough, they have tried to ban it...but only after the GOP started using it.

I agree about Obama, I don't think he cares about the Democrats. I think he only cares about himself and his own future.

Kit said...


"I agree about Obama, I don't think he cares about the Democrats. I think he only cares about himself and his own future."
So… he isn't trying to destroy America?

K said...

1.Obama is unimpeachable for obvious reasons.
2. A Republican President with a level of congressional opposition requiring a resort to executive lawlessness is not.

I believe your remedy, Andrew, fails on that asymmetry.

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