By Pam Buttrum
Special to The Globe
ORONOGO, Mo. —
In his book “The Amateur,” Edward Klein reports that on June 30, 2009, President Barack Obama invited nine liberal historians to dinner in the private quarters of the White House.
Rahm Emanuel warned them this meeting was to remain private and off the record; however, one of the historians later spoke with Klein. During the two-hour dinner, Obama was particularly interested in discussing how he could become a “transformational” president and “change the historic trajectory of America’s domestic and foreign policy.”
During the dinner, Obama revealed that he had a “preference for a corporatist political system in which the economy would be collectively managed by big employers, big unions, and government officials through a formal mechanism at the national level.” Klein describes this as state capitalism, “a system in which the government picks winners and promotes economic growth.”
According to Klein, this approach “was hardly a new idea. It had been around for more than 150 years. It has been tried in the 1930s and 1940s by Benito Mussolini’s Italian Fascists, and in Europe after World War II by democratic-socialist governments in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, among others. In America during the 1970s and 1980s, left-wing Democratic presidential candidates Gary Hart and Michael Dukakis revived the idea, arguing that America should replace free-market capitalism with what they called a ‘neo-corporatist state.’ Though the corporatist idea had an unbroken record of failure in Europe and America, where voters had decisively rejected Gary Hart and Michael Dukakis, Obama was determined to embrace this discredited economic, political, and social philosophy. He planned to achieve his ‘transformational’ presidency by vastly expanding the reach of Washington into the everyday life of American citizens.”
We’ve already gotten a taste of this federal expansion. The Dodd-Frank reform act, presented to us as curing banking abuses, created a federal agency with authority to assist seniors with their private retirement investments. The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) created a huge bureaucracy that is already negatively affecting the price and delivery of health care, not to mention the jobs that have been lost because of it. The Internal Revenue Service is given authority for enforcing much of this law.
I am increasingly concerned about our president’s continuing disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law. In a speech, Obama said we “can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.” Whoa! Our Constitution created three branches. Congress makes the laws, the president carries out and enforces those laws and the Supreme Court interprets the constitutionality of the laws and the constitutionality of the enforcement of the laws. The president has no power to make laws. If the courts determine those laws are unconstitutional or the executive branch behaves unconstitutionally, the president is acting outside of the Constitution if he persists.
Jim Demint, president of the Heritage Foundation, recently gave three examples of where Obama’s administration has ignored constitutional limits. First, Obama gave the states permission to waive work requirements contained in the 1996 welfare reform law. Congress specifically said in the law that the requirements cannot be changed. The work requirements are essential to the law’s success. Second, Obama allowed illegal immigrants to remain if they claimed they came to the United States as a child. He, therefore, implemented a part of the Dream Act, which failed to pass in Congress. In these first two instances, Obama is making laws. Third, he made four appointments to the National Labor Relations Board without constitutionally required Senate approval, claiming the Senate was in recess when it wasn’t. This action was declared unconstitutional by a federal court, but the head of the NLRB said he will not obey the court.
No matter what political party you identify with, this behavior has to trouble you. The Constitution defines our federal government. It enumerates the powers given to the federal government and reserves the rest to the states. The Bill of Rights spells out our individual liberties that the federal government cannot take away. But if the president does not respect the Constitution, there is no one who can make him do so. Congress and the courts can squawk all they want, but they do not control the military, the FBI, the CIA, the TSA and on and on. The president presides over a massive bureaucracy; Congress and the courts do not.
Pam Buttram lives in Oronogo.