William Jacobson has a regular feature on his blog making fun of some of the more ridiculous bumper stickers he comes across. Today he observes a typical moonbat parading his “thoughts” for the world to see. Among the litany of bumper stickers he spotted was a classic: “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Yeah, there’s nothing particularly original or insightful with this bumper sticker, though it does display the leftist predilection to accuse conservatives of fascism. The funniest part of this is that it overlooks what is obvious to those of us who kept studying history past high school, specifically that it is the left that more often proposes totalitarian policies.
For further proof of this, here’s a charming op-ed from the New York Times.
PRESIDENT OBAMA should announce that he will raise the debt ceiling unilaterally if he cannot reach a deal with Congress.
Hey, what’s a Constitution between friends? Separation of powers. Check and balances. That’s all sentimental pish posh. We’re in a state of emergency here, so who needs that pesky old document?
Constitutionally, he would be on solid ground. Politically, he can’t lose. The public wants a deal. The threat to act unilaterally will only strengthen his bargaining power if Republicans don’t want to be frozen out; if they defy him, the public will throw their support to the president. Either way, Republicans look like the obstructionists and will pay a price.
Oh, I’m sure the public will just ignore the fact that the President of the United States completely usurped power and acted like a dictator. We’re very forgiving of such actions.
Where would Mr. Obama get his constitutional authority to raise the debt ceiling?
Our argument is not based on some obscure provision of the 14th amendment, but on the necessities of state, and on the president’s role as the ultimate guardian of the constitutional order, charged with taking care that the laws be faithfully executed.
They would have been better off with some obscure provision of the 14th amendment. By this logic, the President would be authorized to ignore Congress whenever he deems a crisis sufficiently bleak.
As William Teach points out, this is especially rich coming from a pair of leftists when for eight years they did nothing but caterwaul about everything President Bush did. Suddenly they have discovered multi-branch governance is for suckers.
And now for some terrible history.
When Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, he said that it was necessary to violate one law, lest all the laws but one fall into ruin. So too here: the president may need to violate the debt ceiling to prevent a catastrophe — whether a default on the debt or an enormous reduction in federal spending, which would throw the country back into recession.
Yeah, this is totally like that. Except of course for the fact that the Nation was engaged in a Civil War. Oh, and the Constitution very specifically allows for the suspension of habeas corpus in times of insurrection. And Congress ratified Lincoln’s decision as soon as it reconvened in July 1861.
But other than that, great analogy.
A deadlocked Congress has become incapable of acting consistently;
Yeah, that’s kind of a feature, not a bug of a democratic system. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable in countries where one party rule is the norm. In that case, you should be rooting for a fiscal meltdown in order to let the Chinese come in and be our overlords.
it commits to entitlements it will not reduce, appropriates funds it does not have, borrows money it cannot repay and then imposes a debt ceiling it will not raise.
Chutzpah. Pure chutzpah. In a post detailing why President Obama should act unilaterally, these would-be fascists lay the blame at the feet of the people who are actually trying to do something. Can either Posner or Vermeule point to the plan that President Obama has proposed to seriously rollback entitlement spending? They can’t. You know why they can’t? Because there is no such plan. That’s the reason we face the deficit and debt crisis we do. Talk about lack of self-awareness.
One of those things must give; in reality, that means that the conflicting laws will have to be reconciled by the only actor who combines the power to act with a willingness to shoulder responsibility — the president.
In other words, instead of democratically elected representatives collaborating together to work through these issues, the President should just act on his own authority and do what he feels like, contrary to the will of Congress and presumably a majority of the American people. Sieg Heil, baby.
Franklin D. Roosevelt saw this problem clearly, and in his first inaugural address in 1933, addressing his plans to confront the economic crisis, he hinted darkly that “it is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly equal, wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us.”
“But it may be,” he continued, “that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.” In the event, Congress gave him the authorities he sought, and he did not follow through on this threat.
FDR was a pseudo-dictator. It’s unsurprising that the same man who gave us the “Four Freedoms” and proposed a Court packing plan when the judiciary initially refused to rubber stamp his unconstitutional actions should think that the Executive should just ignore the legislature when he didn’t get his way. It is no compliment to the man that he only abided by the Constitution when he got his way.
The basic problem today is that the president and the House Republicans are locked in a classic bargaining game.
This “problem” has persisted for the better part of 230 years. It’s called a republican form of government.
The worst outcome for both is default on the debt, but each side holds out for a favorable deal. They will certainly go to the wire, but economists who have studied bargaining games have shown that there is always a real possibility of breakdown rather than compromise, because only by refusing to deal can each side convey the seriousness of its position.
Yes, that’s one of the pesky problems with republics. Two sides sometimes can’t reach a positive agreement, and then the cow droppings hits the fan. Admittedly the fallout from no compromise could lead to fiscal disaster, but are we to destroy the Constitution because we’re afraid of what might happen if we fail to reach a deal?
Unlike some of my fellow conservatives, I do think that we need to reach an agreement and raise the debt ceiling. Of course I think that we should only raise the ceiling if we get meaningful cuts that are enacted promptly. But I am not going to abide our Constitution being torn to shreds with only a fig leaf of justification. We should recognize totalitarianism when we see it, and Messers Posner and Vermeule are advocating precisely that.