Obama Administration

Obama's Executive Order Tyranny

How dangerous is a president who wants to rule by pen and phone?


Can the president legally bypass Congress and rule the government by decree?

The answer to the question above is: No. But you wouldn't know that by listening to President Obama. In the past three weeks, the president has made it clear how he plans to run the executive branch of the federal government in the next three years: with a pen and a phone.

In a menacing statement at a cabinet meeting last month, as well as during his recent State of the Union address and in a pre-Superbowl interview with my Fox News colleague Bill O'Reilly, the president has referred to his pen and his phone as a way of suggesting that he will use his power to issue executive orders, promulgate regulations and use his influence with his appointees in the government's administrative agencies to continue the march to transform fundamentally the relationship of the federal government and individuals to his egalitarian vision when he is unable to accomplish that with legislation from Congress.

He has carried out that threat already. In June 2012, facing a presidential election campaign that he feared he might lose and wishing to keep socially conservative Hispanics from voting for Mitt Romney, the president directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—the same folks who failed miserably at rolling out Obamacare—to establish standards of behavior for millions of illegal immigrants, which, if followed to the government's satisfaction, would get them off of government deportation lists.

To be sure, deportation can be ruinous, particularly to a family with children who were brought here as infants and have become fully Americanized. But the conditions for deportation, and for avoiding deportation, can only be established by Congress, not by the president or his appointees. When he lays down a list of conditions that permit persons in America to avoid complying with federal law, he is not enforcing the law; he is rewriting it. Only Congress can lawfully establish the circumstances under which those who are candidates for deportation may legally avoid it.

As well, when the president creates the conditions for avoiding compliance with federal law, he can hardly be said to be enforcing it. Yet, enforcing federal law is the heart of the president's job. The Framers were so concerned with the potential of presidents to decline to enforce laws with which they disagreed that they inserted the word "faithfully" in the presidential oath when describing his enforcement obligations, and then they inserted the oath itself into the Constitution. The inescapable conclusion from this is that the Framers intended American presidents to enforce all of the laws that Congress has written, even those they dislike, even those they condemn, even those that may frustrate their friends, even those that may harm their political interests.

On the other hand, American presidents have some discretion when it comes to enforcing laws and may set priorities that are not inconsistent with the laws themselves. Obama, like all of his predecessors, has issued dozens of executive orders and signed off on thousands of regulations that have been lawful and helpful. That's because, as president, he is the chief executive officer of the executive branch of the federal government and is largely responsible for the professional behavior of the three million persons who work under him as they follow his lead in enforcing federal law.

Thus, executive orders that complement, supplement and further the laws that Congress has enacted, orders that guide officials in the executive branch as to the president's wishes, priorities and goals, orders that clarify but do not contradict federal laws, can actually be helpful—and such orders are invariably lawful and constitutional.

But Obama seems to have had different kinds of orders in mind when he spoke of his pen and his phone—ones much more akin to the HHS regulations on avoiding deportation—and he has made no effort to hide his intentions. Two months ago, as the effective date of Obamacare was about to set in and after weeks of denying the obvious, the president acknowledged that the rollout of Obamacare was a disaster and that the cancellation of 6.2 million soon-to-be substandard health insurance policies was profoundly contrary to his assurances that that would never happen and was acutely harmful to those who lost their coverage.

To counter the effects of the rollout and the cancellations, the president told insurance companies to reinstate the substandard insurance policies for a year until the rollout could be corrected. Thus, on his own, he attempted to change the effective date of the onset of Obamacare from Jan. 1, 2014, which is the date in the law after which the substandard policies are unlawful, to Jan. 1, 2015, which is the date he now prefers.

The president has reminded us countless times that he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School and therefore understands the Constitution. He doesn't act like he understands it. He surely knows that only Congress can change the effective date of a law, and that he is utterly without power to do so, no matter his purpose.

He revealed the corruptibility of power when three libertarian Republicans in Congress came to his assistance and he rebuffed them. Shortly after the president told insurance carriers to disregard the onset date of Obamacare, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Mike Lee (R-Utah), offered legislation in Congress to delay the onset of Obamacare lawfully for one year and thus lawfully permit the return of the 6.2 million canceled policies for one year—and Obama threatened to veto that legislation should Congress pass it.

The same president who claims the unlawful power to rewrite federal law on his own would use his veto power to prevent Congress from doing so lawfully. His preferences surely constitute no less than a perversion of the roles assigned to the branches of government by the Constitution.

How dangerous is a president who wants to rule by pen and phone? Where will he strike next? How will this end? Will this deliver us to tyranny?

NEXT: Brickbat: Bad Moon Rising

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  1. It takes two to make it out of sight!


    1. Woo! Yeah!

  2. Deliver?

    1. We don’t do delivery. carry-out only, bring cash.

    2. Right. GW delivered us with the Enabli…I mean Patriot Act. This Tin-pot Dickhead is just running with it.

      If only we could have seen that coming.

      1. Dude, you’re talking to the Cassandra Brigade here. I assume by “we” you meant “the rest of.the jackasses in the country.”

  3. Crossword clue:

    These people are tasked with oversight of the President. 7 letters.

    Answer: Pussies!

  4. Napolitano was doing so well with only one question until that last paragraph.

    [shakes head sadly]

    1. It does come off a little soap-opera-ish.

      “Is Mary pregnant with Epi’s baby? Does Fist’s constant ‘first!’-ing indicate he has intell on The Jacket? What DID happen the The Gobbler? Is Suki still dead?”

      1. You idiots have no flare for the dramatic, which is why you’re you and he’s THE JUDGE.

        That government is best which governs least!

        The people are entitled to a government that stays within the confines of the Constitution!

        The Constitution was written to keep the government off the people’s backs!

        1. (Just like my use of the word flare is why I’m me.)

          1. I.just assumed you.were.referring.to.your habit.of.lighting your.flatulence.

            1. What are you, on your period?

  5. He barely makes the top five in the list of Worst Abusers of Executive Power in my lifetime. And there’s only been nine in my time.

    1. And who would you rate higher?

      1. Oh, and let me guess, Reagan’s on that list, right?

        1. Well, Reagan did sign FOPA.

          1. Yeah, I guess that *does* make him worse than Johnson.

      2. 1. LBJ & W (tie)
        3. Tricky Dick
        4. Ronny Ray Gun & The Chosen One (tie)

        O has a couple years to move up. And apparently he intends to.
        The Obama Administration: Despair and continuity.

  6. OT: The real reason CVS isn’t selling tobacco anymore.

    In my opinion, CVS has always tried to be the “Target” of drugstores. Considering that 45% of GED holders, 35% of high school dropouts, and 24% of high school-only-ers smoke compared to 9% of undergraduate degree holders and 5% of postgraduate degree holders, and likewise, 29% of those deemed below the poverty level smoke and 18% of those at or above the poverty level do…it’s clear CVS just doesn’t want Joe Foodstamp cluttering their cashier lines.

    1. Then they’ll be changing that policy in a couple of years.

      Stores like that *survive* on EBT and social security/medicare.

        1. The sad thing is – those of us on a limited income but not on the dole go to the dollar store or Walmart to get our stuff. Give someone welfare and they blow the money in the convenience store.

    2. Wouldn’t that be easier to accomplish by just going “We don’t take EBT”?

      1. Wouldn’t that be easier to accomplish by just going “We don’t take EBT”?

        Yes, but imagine the Prog outrage. On the other hand, this policy has the Progs in orgasmic joy!

    3. Indeed, good old Target – “our prices discriminate because we can’t.”

  7. But, but, but BOOSH DID IT FIRST!

    1. Well, he did, and I am still pissed about it.

      That in no way alleviates the current despicable shitweasel’s guilt.

    2. Well, he did, and I am still pissed about it.

      That in no way alleviates the current despicable shitweasel’s guilt.

    3. It’s always okay for a sitting president to double-down on any activity for which previous presidents have set a precedent. So I look forward to the return of internment camps for ethnic minorities during times of war and the ransacking of political offices.

  8. I’m in favor of Executive Orders, so long as the people they impact are all employees of the Executive branch of Government. Once the scope reaches beyond that group… go through the Constitutional process.

    1. How many degrees of separation are you talking about?

      ‘Cause these do all affect the employees of the executive. Who then go out and affect you.

      Its like the NSA having to scoop up the suspect’s metadata, the metadata of anyone the suspect has had contact with, the metadata of anyone *they’ve* had contact with, and the metadata of anyone *they’ve* had contact with.

      1. That was probably his point. I’m fine with the President issuing executive orders that tell the bureaucrat scum how to fill out their TPS reports or that casual Fridays are now in effect. But nothing beyond that.

        1. Congress already has a habit of delegating its authority to unelected bureaucrats. The Pres is just helping cut out the middle man.

        2. Yeah, I should have been more clear about that.

          You are correct. And I love your analogy. TPS Reports… HA!

      2. He said, explicitly, only executive employees, dude.

    2. If we have learned anything in the past fifteen years, it is that we are all employees of the Executive Branch. Well, except without the Being Paid part.

      1. If you’re working for someone, but not Being Paid, it means you’re a slave.

  9. Woo-hoo!

    Science will save us from the evil pot-legalizers:


    1. Of course – they’re not going to mark the difference between kids who end up in the ER because they have, you know, life-threatening illnesses and those who end up there because the parents freaked out.

      The only real conclusion you can draw from that report is that one of the harms of marijuana legalization is increased emergency room usage and its attendant bill.

      1. Of course.

        This kind of research underlines my belief that a lot (not all) of the antipathy many libertarians and conservatives have toward science is not actually towards the science itself but is aimed at the insistent knee-jerk reaction of many scientists to claim that their research requires state intervention.

        1. Well isn’t the real knee-jerk the one reacting against government intervention?

          If science says something that challenges your beliefs, it’s most likely that your beliefs are wrong. No right-thinking person would ever put a political ideology first.

          1. Except science doesn’t have policy recommendations. It has facts. Only pseudo-scientific assholes leaching off the scientific tradition try to palm off their policy views as science.

            1. Why can’t science have policy recommendations? All sorts of other interests and outfits do.

              If your policy concern is mitigating an environmental threat, aren’t subject-matter experts the first people to go to for policy recommendations?

              1. And the fact that you look at science as another “interest” or “outfit”, another pressure group, tells us all we need to know. About you, not science.

                Science is the systematic study of what is. The issuance of opinions isn’t an act of science by definition, you mindless cretin.

                Your argument to “got to subject matter experts” for policy recommendations, unsurprisingly, misses the point. Even the best scientist isn’t an expert on everything. He’s an expert on his particular topic. But, decisions involve a lot more than simply their particular sphere of knowledge. That’s why you go to them for facts and not answers.

              2. From Eisenhowers farewell speech:

                “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

                In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

                Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

                The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present ? and is gravely to be regarded.

                Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present ? and is gravely to be regarded. “

        2. “No right-thinking person would put their ideology above science.” Tony said without a hint of irony.

          1. I occasionally think Tony is putting us on. But, I know too many people who think like him.

    2. What I am getting there is that some people displayed helicopter parent behavior and panicked when they realized their kid got into the wrong batch of brownies.

      The docs say the kid is stoned (neurological effects) and then put the kid on a saline drip to encourage histrionics.

      If you are an irresponsible parent that’s on you. It is not the states place to do it for you.

  10. alt-text: “Who should I fuck today, and how can I pretend to justify it?”

  11. Obama has made various numerous shitty decisions, yet Reason talks about executive orders which all evidence shows him to be pretty much avg or above average, at least in amount.

    I suppose this article is evaluating a few actual executive orders, in which the publication finds especially heinous?

    Okay, I guess.

    1. You can make 1000 Executive Orders if they are about clarification of implementation of Congress approved legislation. # is not the issue. It is what you are trying to do by Exec Order. In that sense Obama could have signed far less EOs than any previous president, but it is meaningless unless you examine what he signed into effect.

    2. all evidence shows him to be pretty much avg or above average, at least in amount.

      evidence says that he’s made the fewest E.O.s of any President since Grover Cleveland.



    Under both Democrats and Republicans, the country continues evolving into an economic, political, and social tyranny in the name of “democracy” (www.nationonfire.com). Examples? 1) The IRS gaining access to all your financial information without a court-issued warrant. 2) The USA, using its economic might, imposing extra-territoriality onto small, defenseless countries from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland. 3) The executive branch imprisoning American citizens indefinitely without right of trial or even habeas corpus as guaranteed in the Constitution . . . and without a declared war. 4) The President sending paid-assassins to murder U.S. citizens who verbally promote support of the Mohammedan war against the West with no oversight from Congress or anyone else.

    We never should forget that unwarranted loss of liberty for any one of us . . . no matter who or why . . . is loss of liberty for all of us. It begins as a narrow path trod by only a few under seemingly compelling conditions but evolves into a wide toll-road trod by us all under arbitrary and capricious whims of those who hope to change “White America” and are succeeding … ask Obama’s preacher of more than twenty years.

    The cost of the toll? Our individual right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

  13. The inescapable conclusion from this is that the Framers intended American presidents to enforce all of the laws that Congress has written, even those they dislike, even those they condemn, even those that may frustrate their friends, even those that may harm their political interests.

    Well, not quite. The intent is that the President would vigorously refuse to enforce any law that is unconstitutional, acting as a check and balance on Congress, but would enforce all the other laws even if they didn’t like some of them.

  14. How dangerous is a president who wants to rule by pen and phone?
    Very dangerous.
    Where will he strike next?
    Where ever he wants.
    How will this end?
    Will this deliver us to tyranny?
    Aren’t we already there?

  15. Irony of Obama using his pen-and-phone is he doesn’t at the slightest whiff of political risk:

    Keystone XL decision is all his. But he ‘defers’ to the State Dept. on that.

    Ganja being Schedule 1? Apparently in Obama’s mind that’s all Congress.

    Obama’s mouth was all tough on Syria with red-lines, then when push came to shove – it’s Congress again.

    Come to think of it, Obama always talks with a lexicon of sports analogies – quarterbacks, running backs, and fumbles; but whether the kicking away is illegal (whole chunks of Barrycares) or legal (see above) he most definitely is a punter.

    Remember when everyone mocked Shrub for calling himself the ‘Decider?’ Again, the irony.

  16. “Great is the hand that holds dominion over

    Man by a scribbled name.”

    – The Helping Hand of Hamburger Helper… I mean Dylan Thomas, Obamacare’s been a real bitch.

  17. I am afraid that our Congress and Senate have become COWARDS ! No one has stood firmly aginst the Tyranny and Treason of this President and none have the courage to do so. Some will be called Racist if they do, except this as a Desperate act from a failed, Socialist Presidency attempting to save himself from his Treasonis and Tyrannis actions. If the President were of any other race it would not be considered and charges would have been brought against them. No President in history has openly trashed the Constitution, violated the Bill of rights, abused Executive Order, allowed the Murder of our officals ( Bengazi) ! He is proven to sympathise and support the Muslim Brotherhood, lied of his citizenship making fools of DHS, FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Congress and Senate. He has belittled and Humiliated our Soldiers, Fired those that oppose his Tyranny Or refuse to fire on or citizens. Wants to grant Amnesty to 11 to 12 million illegal aliens that have blantenly proven that they will not support nor abide by our laws ! Knowing that millions of dedicated Americans will loose jobs, homes, education etc. Hes willing to sacrafice the people that have followed our laws ( legal immigrents ) most of all those generations born here and that have sacrificed everything to build this great nation. Im saddened to see Congress and Senate support this Tyranny becaue they do not have the Moral conviction or Courage to stand in the face of Tyranny and Treason ! I guess these colors do run !

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