State Of The Union Address Power Grab? Is Congress Powerless Against The Federal Government

Posted: Jan 28 2014, 5:10pm CST | by


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State Of The Union Address Power Grab? Is Congress Powerless against the Federal

Obama and his handlers spent months signaling that the president intends to use his “pen” and his “phone” to implement a “Year of Action,” and that if Congress doesn’t like it, it can pucker up for his derrière.

One might wonder then, since this is the year of “me, myself and I,” why Obama went to to the Capitol Hill congressional gallery to deliver a State of the Union Address at all.

He didn’t have to.

It’s not required.

It’s a tradition from 1913. It was a great big deal that year when Woodrow Wilson “called the Congress together in extraordinary session” in 1913 to deliver in person (“Washington Is Amazed”) what has now become annual tradition.

John Adams had been the last to trek to the Capitol in person, 112 years earlier in 1801.

Wilson’s personal appearance “Breaks Old Precedent,” marveled the Washington Post that April 1913.

Since the president’s tone in the run-up to the Address was so combative, it’s a marvel the Sergeant At Arms bothered letting Obama in the door.

At least the president toned down the class-warfare sounding “income inequality” rhetoric in favor of “opportunity,” but the prescriptions are the same—more and more government.

The executive powers Obama invoked and his amplified reliance on the “Executive Order” device derive partly from Constitution’s “vesting” clause. But that only goes so far.

More importantly in the modern context, executive branch obesity derives from powers Congress promiscuously delegated and continues to delegate to the executive branch and regulatory agencies that now make most of the law in America

Congress apparently has decided it has better things to do. So it’s fretting now misses the point and causes outsiders like me to just shake my head.

The takeaway from the State of the Union Address is that America’s quandary isn’t just executive branch over-reach; it’s that the federal government has too much power as such, over every portion of our lives and economy from health care to the hourly price for labor; from retirement and a national curriculum to food menu labels and child care.

Alas, such are the fruits of the Constitutional Convention; the Federalists (in fact, nationalists) won, not the strict constructionists and advocates of specific, enumerated governmental powers. Alexander Hamilton had wanted a king.

At least that didn’t happen; but Congress has usurped too much power from the voters, arrogating to itself powers we citizens never had a right to delegate to it even if we had wanted to.

All instead worship the alleged “right” of the majority to vote for anything, unbounded. And in turn, Congress delegates massive amounts of that illegitimate power to the president and to agencies, freeing itself to concoct the next Santa Claus initiative.

So if Congress objects to Obama’s initiatives, it must stop delegating power, and it needs to use its own “pens” and “phones” to defund the activities Obama has said he’s going to perform no matter what Congress thinks.

Here are the numbers of Executive Orders over the past decade: indeed, Obama’s pace in his first term is clearly higher than Bush’s was during his last; but presidents of long ago have been far more active wielding the Executive Order, particularly Roosevelt.


2009: 44

2010: 41

2011: 33

2012: 39

2013: 24


2005: 27

2006: 25

2007: 32

2008: 29

However the pace waxes and wanes with any given administration, government power growth is cumulative; liberty yields and prosperity suffers.

Obama’s entire State of the Union Address premise notwithstanding, “income inequality” worsens and doors of opportunity close as government expands.

Tonight, more government growth was promised, Congress enables it, and the result will be what it must be.

Source: Forbes

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