Archive for April, 2011

25
Apr

New Home for Moonbats

   Posted by: Robert    in Politics

I wonder how much money could be shaved off of the national debt if our members of Congress would quit wasting paper on ridiculous things.  Or, for those more environmentally oriented, how many trees could be saved.  Whatever your viewpoint, it”d sure be nice if we didn’t have to waste congressional record with things like this:

the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall plan to return to the Moon by 2022 and develop a sustained human presence on the Moon, in order to promote exploration, commerce, science, and United States preeminence in space as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations. The budget requests and expenditures of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall be consistent with achieving this goal.

So if I’ve got this right, our national debt is spiraling out of control, and Representatives Mr. Posey(R-FL), Ms. Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Mr. Wolf (R-VA), Mr. Bishop (R-UT), and Mr. Olson (R-TX) want to build a moon base.  Maybe we could just think of it as taking our grandkids’ money to build them the Most Awesome Tree House Ever.

Of course, in reality, a moon base could be a decent investment for our country.  If Mr. Posey, Ms. Jackson-Lee, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Bishop, and Mr. Olson all took a dozen or so of their colleagues with them, we might end up with a higher percentage of legislators who actually care about solving the nation’s problems, rather than just wasting the nation’s time.

16
Apr

Obama Signing Statement Wrong About Advisors

   Posted by: Robert    in Law, Politics

News is picking up today of the signing statement issued by President Obama in regard to his signature of the appropriations bill passed after much congressional debate.  The statement, posted on the White House website, contains an interesting declaration in which Obama makes clear his intention to continue paying his czars despite Congress declaring otherwise.  Without saying it directly, the President intimates that keeping his czars off the payroll would be a violation of the Constitution.  He is perfectly mistaken.

In his statement, President Obama writes:

Section 2262 of the Act would prohibit the use of funds for several positions that involve providing advice directly to the President.  The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority.  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 executive branch will construe section 2262 not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.

Sadly, much of this statement is misleading or false.

To begin with what is true, the President is right that he has a “well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch.”  That is, of course, his primary job.  He is also correct that he has the authority “to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority.”  Indeed, the Constitution guarantees that the President “may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments.”

The sleight of hand Obama then tries to perform is to blend the line between “officer” and “advisor”.  Under the Constitution, an “Officer[] of the United States” is an individual who has been appointed “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.”  In other words, the President has the right to get advice from his cabinet.  However, it is not the cabinet that is at issue in this legislation, and the President’s attempt to lump the people targeted by the provision in with his cabinet is disingenuous.

Section 2262 of HR 1473 reads:

None of the funds made available by this division may be used to pay the salaries and expenses for the following positions:

(1) Director, White House Office of Health Reform.
(2) Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.
(3) Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy.
(4) White House Director of Urban Affairs.

None of the positions listed have gone through the confirmation process.  They are, by definition, not “Officers of the United States.”  Their jobs are nowhere guaranteed by the Constitution, nor is their pay.  The President has no right, under the Constitution, to their advice.

The President, of course, is free to consult with whomever he chooses, including with the four individuals listed in HR 1473.  The taxpayers, however, have no obligation to pay for the advice the President receives.  Those four individuals are more than welcome to continue advising the President for free, and Obama is certainly welcome to pay them out of his own pocket.  But it is no longer permissible for those individuals to receive compensation for salary or expenses from the US Treasury; and the President is wrong if he believes otherwise.