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Depends Who The Executive Is, It Seems

Professor Bradley Smith asks some good questions:

We’re hearing a lot about the need to regulate and to prosecute private sector actors, but where’s the skepticism of big government? Where is the serious citizen oversight of President-Elect Obama’s plans, and President Bush’s actions, to “stimulate” the economy by essentially nationalizing huge parts of it? Why are so many people ready to think that turning to more government is the answer? Where is the skepticism that Barney Frank knows how to run the banking industry, or Chris Dodd the auto industry? What happened to those liberals who just a year ago were complaining about excessive presidential power and a government that was “shredding the constitution” to deal with a crisis (in that case, terrorism)?

Nowhere is the hypocrisy greater than in regard to the car bailout. From the get-go Hank Paulson and the President said that the executive branch lacked legislative authorization to use TARP funds for the car industry. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, vigilant defenders of their legislative branch said, “Oh, just do it!” Congress tried and failed to pass a bailout bill. In essence, the legislative body could not muster the will to vote for the bailout (or at least the version the Democrats were willing to put to a vote). So Reid and Pelosi, again our favorite critics of unilateral presidential power, said, “Your ball, Mr. President. Just do it!”

The concerns vigorously voiced for eight years about the proper balance of the three branches, the primacy of Congress in funding matters, and the extension of executive branch power have vanished. One wonders whether all that talk about separation of powers was just that — talk. And the MSM, which lambasted the Bush administration for “shredding the Constitution,” is only concerned that the Republicans are out to bury the auto workers. Presidential overreach –what’s that? No one is much concerned whether the Treasury Department can spend without Congressional authorization.

I suspect so long as there are Republicans able to filibuster in the Senate, and Blue Dog Democrats in the House ready to slow down the legislative train, the Reid-Peloisi duo will be happy to see President Obama exercise and extend executive powers. Perhaps, Pelosi should worry less about who Rahm Emanuel is calling, and more about what turf she is conceding to the executive branch. Unless, of course, her professed concern for the Constitution was all for show.


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