• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: Obama's Imperial Presidency, Part II

    Sometimes the law just gets in the way.

    The Obama Administration hasn’t needed Congress to enact new regulations on the Internet, businesses, energy production, and religious institutions. It has used its power to give struggling labor unions a new edge. It has granted amnesty to illegal immigrants.

    This blatant disregard for the law—and unilateral creation of new laws—is documented in a detailed new report from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Based on investigations in committees of the House of Representatives, the report lays out more than 40 examples of the Administration’s going around Congress to make its own “laws,” ignoring existing laws, circumventing the regulatory process, making its own “law” by waiving existing laws, creating “super agencies,” and setting up federal programs that were not authorized by Congress.

    When its unilateral lawmaking wasn’t enough, the Administration has carved up the law by selectively issuing waivers so that the inconvenient parts could be avoided. Instead of education reform, the Administration issued waivers of No Child Left Behind’s requirements to coax states toward its new education plans. Instead of honesty about Obamacare’s effects, the Administration issued waivers to selected health plans to ease the blow.

    Matthew Spalding, Vice President for American Studies and Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at The Heritage Foundation, wrote about the imperial presidency in June:

    We can now see before us a persistent pattern of disregard for the powers of the legislative branch in favor of administrative decision-making without—and often in spite of—congressional action. This violates the spirit—and potentially the letter—of the Constitution’s separation of the legislative and executive powers of Congress and the President.

    It wasn’t long after Spalding wrote these words that The Wall Street Journal expressed a similar concern: “When Congress won’t do what he wants, he ignores it and acts anyway.” That same month, Obama’s Health and Human Services Department gutted the work requirements out of welfare reform.

    Cantor’s report shows that no matter the circumstances, the President has found his way around the people’s representatives:

    In some instances, President Obama attempted to garner legislative authority, failed and then acted unilaterally in defiance. In other instances, the President never even sought to find consensus and instead ignored Congress and its authority from the outset. In speeches, the President has proudly acknowledged that he has acted without Congress, contending that he has no other alternative.

    Not only has he turned lives and businesses upside down with his harmful policies, but President Obama is also setting a dangerous precedent. Who’s to say the next President won’t come in and do exactly the same thing? Regardless of the executive’s party or policy positions, this is not what the presidency is supposed to be. It’s simply outside the President’s authority, as Spalding explains:

    The President has unique and powerful responsibilities in our constitutional system as chief executive officer, head of state, and commander in chief. Those powers do not include the authority to make laws or to decide which laws to enforce and which to ignore.

    It is critical that Americans understand the Obama Administration’s mode of operation. The law has not stood in its way. Congress has not stood in its way. It seems to recognize no authority but its own.

    Quick Hits:

    • State Department emails obtained by CBS News indicate that the Administration learned the Benghazi attack was terrorism-related on the day of the attack.
    • The Tea Party Express held a “We the People Virtual Debate” featuring President Obama and Governor Romney’s positions in their own words on a variety of issues.
    • Did you know? Today is United Nations Day.
    • The deadline to intern at The Heritage Foundation in the Spring 2013 semester is approaching. Learn more about what Heritage interns do, and submit your application by November 1.
    • Today at 5:30 p.m. ET, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will deliver the Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture in a special Webcast-only Heritage Foundation event. Tune in online to watch this event.
    Posted in First Principles, Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    41 Responses to Morning Bell: Obama's Imperial Presidency, Part II

    1. John Augustin says:

      So what does the foundation suggest we do other than vote him out of office in a couple of weeks? Seems if checks and balances are not working or Congress is ignoring their role or the courts are ignoring their role.

    2. K. J. Rush says:

      What recourse do the people have to correct these injustices? Impeachment? Criminal prosecution? If nothing is done, then, surely, future Presidents might boldly follow suit.

      • 2Dokie says:

        Precisely!!! If congress and the courts are so corrupt that they will not pursue their absolute basic responsibility(that is to protect and defend the Constitution) then it is obvious they DONT DESERVE TO HOLD THE POSITION THEY HAVE and those among them who care should be creating a public din of condemnation!!!

    3. John says:

      Doesnt the surpassing of congress make these laws illegal?

    4. Jeff says:

      As a law abiding citizen of the United States, I am very frustrated with how our President and Congress have acted toward the rule of law and the perspective of this article. This article accuses the President of “blatant disregard for the law” and then the “unilateral creation of new laws”. It sounds too much like just plain whining to me. Apparently, the President does have the authority to effect new laws. If the President does not have the authority to make a law, then why is anyone following it? If someone is not following the original law because the President told them to break it, then where is the consequence? I am very tired of hearing how everyone in Congress, Republicans and Democrats, disregard (break) the law. Laws are pointless without anyone with the authority and will to enforce them. When I see someone being taken away in handcuffs, I know they have broken the law. I don’t need anyone to tell me they had a “blatant disregard for the law”. I don’t want hear about how someone disregards the law, I want to see the consequence or I want to know who is not doing their job of enforcement.

      • I agree, we need to have term limits, to discourage these people from being so corrupt, I can't understand why something has not be done by our congress to stop his progression, he needs to be held accountable for all his misdeads and everything that he has signed need to be overthrown

      • A citizen says:

        The president is also the chief law enforcement officer. The US attorney general is appointed by the president, so it's unlikely he will do his job if the president breaks the law. The correct and Constitutional thing to do is for the House to issue articles of Impeachment.

    5. David says:

      So there why is there no authority to hold the administration accountable for breaking the law?

    6. David Sarett says:

      What is this Congress willing to do about asserting their constitutional authority?

      If Obama is re-elected, what will the next Congress be willing and able to do about reclaiming its constitutional authority

      • Tabitha Taylor says:

        If we can't both maintain the majority in congress & capture the senate I don't see much that can stop Obama. So far the congress hasn't done much because they know the senate will only circumvent the effort & have asserted they're holding out in the hope of getting a senate majority. We know we cannot count on the Supreme Court anymore (thanks Roberts) & if Obama gets a second term he will be appointing more liberal Supreme Justices that feel the constitution is outdated & is a "living breathing document" to be interpreted 'progressively'. If that happens, God help us – America & it's rule of law will be dead.

    7. Arden Kasner says:

      If we had a Congress that was for the people, by the people, we would not see Obama changing our Republic. It is a toss up of who is worse. It is certainly time to limit terms and pensions.

    8. Lloyd Scallan says:

      More than two years ago, many of us looked at Obama policies and understood that he is a dictator. But few listened. Now, the truth is slowing leaking out but it just may be too late.

    9. James says:

      Who is in charge of legaly and forceably stoping this executive decree type of government? If it is the head "outlaw" , Eric Holder, then not much else need be said. Is it the responsibility of the Democratically controled Senate?

    10. Jeanne Stotler says:

      No one realy listened to Obamain 2007, all the saw wasa Man who drew crowds and seme to have a halo around him. Those of us who saw the arragant, and nacistic person , were belittled and called racist,even as they saw houses forclosed on, jobs lost and now we have inflation, high unemploymen, seniors scrimping by a Medicare benefits cu, Drs. refusing new Medicare and Medicaid patients, Companies cutting full imeemployees to 29hour a week, or teir crew down to 49 To understand where this is from you need to see "2016, Obama'sAmerica" or read books about him , he is a dangerous human being

    11. rebo1941 says:

      "…40 examples of the Administration’s going around Congress to make its own “laws,” ignoring existing laws, circumventing the regulatory process, making its own “law” by waiving existing laws, creating “super agencies,” and setting up federal programs that were not authorized by Congress."

      Isn't 'ignoring existing laws' the same as breaking laws? If someone breaks the law, aren't they put on trial, and if found guilty, sent to prison? Why and how is Congress completely ignoring Obama's disregard of the law? Congress voted for impreachment of Nixon for covering up a break-in at Watergate. Is that a greater disregard for the law than what Obama is doing?
      Congress, and particularly the Republican leadership, are wimps. They appear to be scared of Obama. If they think that a Republican president could act the same, they have their head in the sand. A Republican president breaking the law would be impeached in a minute and the lamestream press would be all over it.
      Vote all the bastards out!

    12. Ben C. says:

      Alexander Tytler said it best:

      “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.
      Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency.”
      I’ll add: tyranny is always followed by anarchy.
      Barry is the dictator. Can the Hunger Games be that far away?

      • Brandon says:

        Yes, our founding fathers knew all of this. Our country was basically ruined by judicial review combined with common law judges. Judges have considered themselves superior to legislators as long as judges have existed as separate entities. It's really sad when you think about it.

      • Jim says:

        Well said, unfortunately with complacency comes ignorance!

    13. william alford says:

      It is my expressed opinion that our incumbent president does not posess the abilities to be the POTUS.

    14. Underlander says:

      A federal law passed after an executive order should be able to supersede the executive order. So the Congress has a tool there at least for the executive orders. The problem would be getting Congress to pass such a law. With the way party splits are, I'm not sure they could barring a bipartisan concern for the executive overreach into the sphere of legislative branch power.

      • Don Neal says:

        why did this get more – than + votes? It is the truth and some people do not like to hear the truth, because they drink the koolaid and now are getting the government handouts.

    15. Lawrence Cahn says:

      Why were these points not discussed during the three debates? To bring it up now to a group of people who are aware of the current condition is senseless. We had the opportunity to bring this before millions of people – wasted.

      • Jeanne Stotler says:

        Beause they were moderated by Obama supporters and did everyhing in their power to make him look good, even to the point of cutting Romney off in mid sentence, they don't want people to see the truth. If Obama gets another term we will, mos likelynever see aother election

    16. J E Houser says:

      For ignoring the existing laws to make his own, the President should be impeached.

    17. Richard says:

      Why hasn't the Congress impeached him? That is their Constitutional remedy. Huffing and puffing doesn't stop a despot.

    18. PaulE says:

      What is Heritage's proposed solution to this problem given the fact that it appears that Congress will NOT impeach Obama nor will the Supreme Court step in to try and stop these unconstitutional activities?

      When the two other co-equal branches of government choose not to reign in an executive branch that is out of control, what are options?

    19. Tom says:

      President Obama openly declared that his justice department would not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act(DOMA), passed by large majorities in both houses, and signed by Bill Clinton,. This to me is enough to warrant impeachment, as it is a clear violation of Article II, section 3:"… he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed…"

    20. PAMELA J SOLICH says:

      when is one of the idiot career politicians going to stand up to this guy??? He has bribed his into getting O care passed and how many other things? Time to get rid of career politicians & lobbyist that can be bought.
      Time for AMERICA to stand up and speak out. I think and see this year that people are scared to put things on their cars and speak up and be counted. Maybe it's more that we aren't being heard because the media DOESN'T CARE. Well, media, you will be in the toilet with us if this country goes to hell in a handbag!

    21. William says:

      Uh WE understand…why is it that no one in the House or Senate can stop him? He's breaking the law. Have him arrested. He's not different than any other American. He is NOT above the law.

    22. William says:

      Civil disobedience is our remedy. We the People must stand together and defy them. Are we willing to sacrifice our wealth for liberty as the Founders were, or do we just mouth a bunch of high sounding rhetoric?

      • GunnyGene says:

        Recognize this? "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

    23. jan says:

      why is he still president.?.everyone afraid to do anything ?

    24. Curt Krehbiel says:

      If Obama gets a second term we will soon be known as The United Communist States of America.

      • Brandon says:

        Considering the fact that the price of things effects your purchasing habits and the government subsidizes and taxes so many things, we pretty much live here already. Obama is just making it worse.

    25. Troon62 says:

      Like so many other respondents to this article, I've watched in stunned amazement at each new encroachment on the Constitution's separation of powers by Obama, but I've been more shocked and outraged that neither Congress nor the courts have seen fit to challenge these serial abuses. Stop whining, Mr. Cantor, and get about the serious business of defending the lawful power of the legislative branch. Anything less, and you're doing an equal disservice to the Constitution.

    26. Mike Huddleston says:

      The President knows that the Congress is too lazy and self focused to do anything about his violations of the Constitution. They won't even deal with the debt and taxation problem that is causing such chaos. We must get term limits to make it easier to replace MC's who do not represent their constituents.

    27. Matt says:

      It appears that Obama is following the course set by the Courts. Which is legislate from the bench or in his case legislate by "imperial" decree. Not a lot of difference between the two – both deplorable. Where is our recourse when the check and balance system doesn't check or balance? There is rampant, utter disregard for our constitution in all three branches of our government and in the other imperialistically added branches that seem to extort so much control. Why is the press silent on these matters (rhetorical).

    28. CJfeed says:

      I have to agree completely with the discontent and disappointment expressed by the comments here. I also agree with the frustration of reading articles like this which point out grievous and seemingly illegal wrongdoings, then offer nothing in terms of solutions or enforcement. Enough is enough, preaching to the choir is not accomplishing anything.

    29. Richard says:

      If we don't get off our bottoms and do something soon, we are truly heading down the road to a dictatorship
      Where,s congress!? Where's the supreme court ?Three and one-half years with nothing more than talk from
      elected reps. and a media that is no longer the Fourth Estate BUT one I consider a "Fifth Column!" Wake up
      you stupid Americans and stop Expecting everything from your government. The price for our Greed is beyond

    30. Wayne Peterkin says:

      There is no question that Obama is orchestrating an "Imperial Presidency". What I do not understand is how he gets away with it. I have read the Constitution and have never found one word that authorizes the president to create new laws, write unrestricted regulations, ignore laws, spend money, or circumvent Congress while doing whatever he wishes. So how does he get away with it? Because Congress in general and the Senate in particular, completely controlled by Harry Reid, allow him to do so. Obama could have been stopped, but Reid has his back. Our Constitution is not the law under this administration, and we must reclaim it or the nation is doomed.

    31. Peter Turano says:

      The election is done. The American people have voted to be ruled rather than governed. They made a Senate that could not pass a budget for four years even more in control of democrats. When FDR's policies failed, he became more imperial: outlawing gold ownership by citizens, price controls, trying to stack the supreme court, and so on. Can we expect from the President these kinds of extreme measures when he doesn't get his way now that there will be less agreemement between the house(GOP) and senate(56/44 Democrat). Will they ever pass a budget or will the president just decree one.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.