Democrats and Republicans Agree: More Power for the President


Bootleggers and Baptists

Whenever partisans from different sides of the political spectrum find themselves in quick agreement, the American people almost invariably suffer. The classic example is the "Bootleggers and Baptists" scenario, in which limited alcohol prohibition is promoted by religious nuts and illicit alcohol producers alike, as such a ban plays to the misguided convictions of the former, and the wallets of the latter. Regardless of the motivations of the prohibition's proponents, liberty is strangled.

Today's example of the same scenario is called the No Labels group, and consists of Democrats, Republicans, and several former White House chiefs of staff, all convinced that the presidency needs more power and control. Because a man with an extensive kill-list and a known habit of abusing the living hell out of executive power must need more authority to do his job. Of course his predecessor, a man with an extensive kill-list and a known habit of abusing the living hell out of executive power, didn't give him much in the way of a good example of leadership.

The group has fortunately only got small pieces of its stated goals into Congress so far, according to The New York Times, but the purported ambitions of the movement are quite startling:

Twice a year, the president should be able to introduce legislation directly to Congress for a fast-track vote, which would allow the legislation to pass with a majority vote and without amendments. To qualify for fast-track status, legislation would require 10 sponsors from each party in the House and five sponsors in each party in the Senate. Bipartisan presidential commissions would have similar fast-track authority for their final report if it is in legislative form.

The listed reasons for these changes are even well-intentioned: fixing tax codes and immigration laws, and getting rid of debt. But while both parties have an understandable interest in empowering their own presidents further, one of the curious features of democracy is that the center of power tends to swing back and forth. If Democrats wish to empower their president, they should remember that these same proposed powers will certainly be wielded by Republicans in the future. Lawmakers have a way of forgetting that granting power to the president they are affiliated with today is tantamount to granting power to the opposition tomorrow. One day soon the shoe will find itself on the other foot, and it's to everyone's benefit to make sure that shoe doesn't have cleats.

For more on opposing groups working together to pistol-whip lady liberty, go here.