I’ve used this introduction before, but it applies perfectly here as well:
These days Congress is a bit of a nuisance for Obama. He has stated before that he’d like to work his way around Congress…but he simply can’t. That pesky Constitution is keeping him from doing what he wants to do. Why should Obama let the Constitution stand in the way of “progress?”
President Obama has an election to worry about. He understands that his poll numbers are not great so he is not going to hold back on anything that will improve his chances in November. If that means defying the Constitution, Congress, and even his own policies then so be it!
After the Senate was in session for a day, although a pro forma session without any business taking place, Obama decided to consider the Senate in “recess.” With the Senate in “recess” he then installed the director to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three members to the National Labor Relations Board effectively bypassing the Senate approval process. This amounts to an excessive expansion of executive powers and sets up for showdown between Congress and Obama. However, for Obama it’s just something he had to protect middle-class Americans from the evil Republicans:
“I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Mr. Obama said in Shaker Heights, drawing applause from his audience. “When Congress refuses to act and as a result hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”
Mr. Obama tapped former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the consumer protection agency and named three others – two Democrats and one Republican – to the labor board. Those nominations had all been stymied by congressional Republicans, who said Mr. Obama was accruing too much power to himself through those two agencies.
Conservatives are not the only ones concerned about Obama’s unconstitutional power grab. As Hot Air points out, even some liberals are surprised with this move:
So shameless is this power grab, in fact, that even John Yoo, whose name is a curse word on the left when it comes to executive overreach, thinks Obama went too far. Lefty Timothy Noah, who supports Cordray’s appointment, candidly admitted today at TNR that he can’t figure out how this could possibly be constitutional. (If Obama has the power to define when the Senate is and isn’t in recess, writes Noah, then he could theoretically treat every weekend of the year as a recess.) In fact, according to Mark Calabria at Cato, not only does the Cordray appointment flaunt the Constitution, it actually violates the terms of the Dodd-Frank statute pushed through by O’s own party
Hot Air also points out an AP story from 2008 detailing how Democrats blocked President Bush’s recess appointment attempts through pro forma Senate sessions. Power grabs such as this are hardly ever rolled back to the former precedent. Instead the opposing political party will whine about it, but end up using it when they get control. We can hope that this Congress will not only rebuke Obama for this power grab, but also make the legal moves necessary to nullify and punish the President for his actions. Is Harry Reid likely to let the Senate do that? Don’t count on it!