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By Dr. Mims Mobley
Our president’s approval rating, on essentially every parameter of what he is supposed to oversee, is at an all-time low as he enters the sixth year of his presidency. Yet, in his 2014 State of the Union address to Congress the other night, he vowed that in the coming year he would move his agenda unilaterally, using executive orders and departmental regulations to accomplish his aims — effectively by-passing Congress. So, what’s new? That’s what President Obama has been doing since the Republicans won the House of Representatives in 2010 and kept control in 2012.
The President apparently not only takes solace from the approval rating of Congress being lower than his own, but he seemingly seizes upon that fact as quasi endorsement of his ruling from the Oval Office as opposed to enforcing the laws passed by Congress, which admittedly are few and far between. And why is so little coming from Congress? Because Harry Reid unabashedly sits on nearly every piece of legislation sent to the Senate by the opposition party controlling the lower chamber. Reportedly, since 2010 the House has sent 200 or more Bills to the Senate where all but a few of them have died on Harry Reid’s desk. And therein is the possible main key to Congressional dysfunction.
Because members of the House of Representatives are called congressmen and congresswomen, there is the inference that the House is Congress, while it is the combination of the House and the Senate that defines Congress. During his first two years as president, Mr. Obama had nothing but praise for the job Congress was doing as Nancy Pelosi’s House and Harry Reid’s filibuster-proof Senate rubberstamped everything he sent their way.
Back then, when the Affordable Care Act emerged from behind closed doors with no bi-partisan in-put and opportunity to amend was denied the opposition, there was no public outcry. Beneath the surface, however, there must have been a degree of public awareness that the elected majority had in essence run rough shod over the “loyal opposition” and that such high-handedness was contrary to what many perceived had always been the American way. That awareness apparently became dissatisfaction with Washington doing business in that manner, and in 2010, seeking a remedy, the electorate stepped forward and handed the House of Representatives to the Republicans. And so began the cycle of Executive authority being flaunted from the Oval Office and abetted by the president’s stalwart enabler in the Senate, the majority leader.
When the electorate continued Republican control of the House in the 2012 election, the Executive Office dug in its heels, ruling unilaterally, changing laws (possibly illegally) rather than enforcing them, as has been documented with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And now, in his 2014 State of the Union address to Congress, President Obama tells us that we can expect more of the same from him. And that’s the way it will be as long as Harry Reid has the upper chamber of Congress firmly in his grip.
One might look back at Richard Nixon being referred to by the media as an Imperial President. That same media seems to look the other way when it comes to Mr. Obama’s use of the Executive, enabled by Reid’s roadblock in the Senate. Might they be pushing their luck?
In the run up to our Founding Fathers declaring independence from the crown, Lord North, controlling Parliament at that time, was the enabler for King George III of England, but the duo pushed their power act a little too far: they taxed tea.
Come November, we’ll learn the degree to which the founding concept of “America” still resides within Americans.