Monday, January 23, 2017

The PEOPLE must drain the SWAMP- Trump needs to work within framework of the Constitution!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

      On Friday, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th POTUS.  He immediately signed an executive order rolling back the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.  The order gives federal agencies permission to, “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay” the mandates in the Affordable Care Act.  In other words, those who faced a tax for not complying with the requirement to have medical insurance may not face fines after all.   Trump also issued an executive memo ordering a freeze on regulations for all government agencies. 
     The use of executive orders by presidents to circumvent Congress and rule by decree should trouble a self-governed people.  An executive order is a directive from the President that has much of the same power as a federal law.  They can also issue a president memoranda or a proclamation, which can also result in signification policy change or enforcement. 
      Several landmark moments in American history came about directly from the use of executive orders, most famously Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, using the Constitution’s suspension clause as justification for his actions.  Roosevelt issued a whopping 3,728 executive orders during his twelve years in office, including one that resulted in the interment of 120,000 Japanese during WWII., 67% of which were Americans  Carter issued as many executive orders in four years as George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama did in eight years, averaging 80 per year.  Many executive orders were not controversial and were issued to get a regulation or practice implemented immediately, but some were far reaching and were issued to bypass Congress. 
     The basis for executive orders is Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution states, "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."  But clearly the founders did not intend the POTUS to circumvent Congress and make law unilaterally.  Three months after he was sworn in as POTUS, President Washington sent instruction to his cabinet and officers in the government asking for a report, “to impress me with a full, precise and distinct general idea of the affairs of the United States.”  Washington’s decree was in order because every CEO has the power to order his subordinates to give him a report and accounting of what is happening in their area of responsibility.  Fast forward to modern times and Presidents Clinton and Obama, in particular, have used executive orders when they failed to achieve their objectives in Congress.  Former Clinton advisor Paul Begala said about executive orders: “Stroke of the pen. Law of the Land. Kinda cool.” President Obama famously said he had a phone and a pen and that he would circumvent Congress if he had to- and he did- when he instructed federal agencies to not enforce federal immigration law. 
     Most conservatives view the ACA as an intrusion into people’s lives and a major mistake in policy.  It has cost American jobs and hurt small business.  Most agree it needs at best some major tweaking and at worst, to be repealed.  Those same conservatives despised the arrogance of President Obama when he signed executive orders instructing agencies to ignore the law.  But they applauded President Trump when he did virtually the same thing on Friday.
      President Trump is a Washington outsider and has zero political experience.  That is exactly what America needs, because career politicos have gotten us to where we are now, however the POTUS is not the great sovereign ruler of the country, no matter what his political ideology may be.  America’s system of government clearly places the most power in the legislative branch, no matter how inept or incompetent, Congress may be.  When a president, no matter his political Party affiliation, decides they can ignore Congress and that laws passed by Congress are not to be enforced, he is abusing his power and in effect bypassing the people.
     It is the job of Congress to pass laws.  The POTUS is not to decree laws or to decree what laws are to be enforced.  If Trump really wants to ‘drain the swamp,’ he should begin by following the Constitution to the letter and not circumvent “the swamp.”  The real draining of the swamp must be done by the people.  Trump can help by working within the framework of the Constitution and forcing the swamp people to do their job.

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