Barack Obama

Beware Obama's Post-Election Surprises

From Obamacare to the Justice Department, our lame-duck president is still a problem.

|

“After my election I have more flexibility.”â€"President Obama to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, March 26, 2012

Obama was talking then about the 2012 presidential election. But indications are that he has the same view of this year’s midterm contestsâ€"even if this time around, unlike in 2012, his party is defeated at the polls.

The “post-election surprises” issue generates passion because of the way it inverts the traditional civics class consent-of-the-governed democratic theory. Our textbook ideal of a president would do what he wants, then let voters pass judgment; or at the very least, say publicly what he wants, and hope voters ratify those goals in an election. Obama, by contrast, cloaks his agenda in some mystery. He also appears prepared to go ahead and do what he wants to do anyway, even if the voters in the congressional elections reject the agenda he has disclosed.

A former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, Ernest Istook, took to The Washington Times recently to warn that Obama is preparing post-election action to disclose new, higher Obamacare premium rates, provide work authorization for illegal immigrants, and let nonviolent convicts out of prison early. “The last remaining barrier protecting us from Obama-unchained is his need to protect fellow Democrats on Nov. 4th. That date is like a boxing bell, signaling Mr. Obama to unleash his barrage,” Istook wrote.  

A professor of political science at the University of Chicago, Charles Lipson, recently circulated a list of at least six decisions that Obama has postponed makingâ€"or at least announcingâ€"until after the election. “As soon as the voting is done,” Professor Lipson predicts, “several big shoes will drop,” among them Obama’s choice of a new attorney general and his decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Nor do you have to be a former Republican Congressman or a right-leaning professor to buy the idea that Obama is postponing some major announcements until after the election. David Sanger of The New York Times reported on October 20: “No one knows if the Obama administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of his presidency: an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon. But the White House has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it.”

In a 2001 paper, two foreign policy experts then at Brookings, Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, took a look at arguments for constricting the actions of lame-duck presidents: “Lame-duck diplomacy is wrong because the sitting president should defer to his successor… Lame-duck diplomacy ties the hands of the incoming administration…. Lame-duck diplomacy is wrong because a lame duck’s motives are not pure.” Daalder and Lindsay considered each of those arguments in turn and wound up rejecting them all. “Neither the lame-duck status of the outgoing president nor the certainty that a new president will take office the following January is reason to curtail the fundamental constitutional right of sitting presidents to pursue foreign policy as they deem best,” they wrote. Their argument applies to foreign policy, but the reasoning can be applied to domestic policy, as well.

Yet if the president’s constitutional prerogatives remain his until the moment his successor takes the oath of office, so too do those of Congress. Those congressional powers enumerated in the Constitution include the powers “to declare war,” to appropriate funds or to withhold them, “to establish a uniform rule of naturalization,” and to consent to international treaties.

If Obama plans to exercise his executive authority vigorously, expect it to trigger an equally vigorous reaction from Congress. Particularly if Republicans wind up with control of the Senate, the House leadership will no longer be able to blame Harry Reid for the failure of legislative attempts to hem in the president. The Republican voters who elected Congress will want to see some results that curb Obama’s plans.

Meanwhile, perhaps the most surprising thing about the prospect of post-election surprises from Obama is that anyone is still surprised by him. If there’s any consolation for voters, it’s that there’s another big national election coming in two years. Before long it’ll be another president’s turn to spring post-election surprises.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

18 responses to “Beware Obama's Post-Election Surprises

  1. If Obama plans to exercise his executive authority vigorously, expect it to trigger an equally vigorous reaction from Congress.

    If only that were true.

    1. Let’s face it, there’s still not jack shit they are going to be able to do about it short of an impeachment. It takes 60 votes to over ride a veto.

      1. Yes. All they can do is shut down the government. I would love to see that as much as anyone. But the media would kill them for it and it would just help Hillary in 2016.

        1. Nothing is going to help Hillary in 2016. She’s inept and has no following outside of people obsessed with her last name. That same demographic failed to get her the nomination in 2008…they’re unlikely to get her that nomination in 2016 after she got a U.S. ambassador killed and demonstrated to everyone what a colossal fuckup she is.

      2. 60 to break a filibuster (if the GOP reinstates it after Reid took it away), 67 to override a veto or make Biden president.

        1. Don’t underestimate the number of Dems who’ll throw Obama under the bus during his last two years…especially if the premiums for Obamacare skyrocket just after the election. It’s not like President Ebola is going to become any smarter after 2014 or come up with better ideas…he’s going to continue to be an anchor for the incumbents who survive.

          I wouldn’t even count out some of them getting on board with impeachment.

      3. Uh, 60 votes in the Senate to break a filibuster, 67 to beat a veto (and to convict for impeachment).

    2. They’ll be working together, FOE, together.

  2. That reminds me of this article from American Thinker titled “Obama wants the Democrats to lose”. http://www.americanthinker.com….._lose.html

  3. “provide work authorization for illegal immigrants, and let nonviolent convicts out of prison early. ”

    Hi Ira,

    As libertarians, we should oppose these things? I know you guys are pushing a certain agenda– but maybe it’s not one that those of us who don’t want the government involved in our private affairs would like so much? I’m confused.

    1. Fuck you, slaver. Don’t you have some little kids to stick in a re-education camp?

    2. Of course you are confused AMSOC. In your mind rights are granted, or revoked by the whimsy of a despot.

      1. I was just asking Ira why I should care if less people are in prison or if people from Mexico are allowed to work without harassment. I’m supposed to be against these things? There’s a sinister and foreboding tone to this article about what Obama is going to do from 2014-2016. You mean I should be afraid if he doesn’t care if immigrants work, decreases military spending, gets the. U.S. Out of this pointless, idiotic campaign in Afghanistan. Shrugs. So… More power to him.

        We all knew as libertarians that Obama was going to be in sufficiently radical. I also knew he wasn’t going to enact a 94% income tax on high incomes.. But we’ve got what we’ve got in this crumbling superpower. If the President doesn’t get us in an illegal war, or crash the economy with phony-baloney ownership society rhetoric I count that as good. As I’ve said, I’m a victim of diminished expectations… You certainly wouldn’t catch me signing up to go to Iraq or Afghanistan so I could fight for this nation built on a stinking horseshit pile of talk about American Exceptionalism.

        1. I was just asking Ira why I should care if less people are in prison or if people from Mexico are allowed to work without harassment. I’m supposed to be against these things?

          Yes, as a socialist you are absolutely against the idea of fewer people in prisons or workers being able to perform without harassment. That’s why you’re a slaver.

          We all knew as libertarians that Obama was going to be in sufficiently radical.

          You’re not one of us.

          If the President doesn’t get us in an illegal war, or crash the economy with phony-baloney ownership society rhetoric I count that as good.

          He just started an illegal war in Iraq and Syria, dipshit.

          As I’ve said, I’m a victim of diminished expectations

          Not nearly as much as your parents once they saw you grow up, most likely. That had to be a dark day when they realized that their child was a despicable fucktard.

          You certainly wouldn’t catch me signing up to go to Iraq or Afghanistan so I could fight for this nation built on a stinking horseshit pile of talk about American Exceptionalism

          You’ve apparently confused us with one of the conservative blogs you troll. Feel free to go back to them and waste their time, fucktard.

      2. As much as I dislike this socialist dude, I have to say I agree with him on these couple of points.

        Don’t get me wrong, he is a slaver, but I could care less about illegals working and non violents getting out of jail.

        *Ducks and runs…*

  4. My buddy’s sister-in-law makes $83 /hour on the computer . She has been without work for 8 months but last month her pay was $17994 just working on the computer for a few hours.
    For information check this site. ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  5. Obama is going down in a blaze of glory! Somebody get some popcorn.

  6. Can you have some spare time to sit back in your chair having your laptop with you and making some money online for some interesting online work said Jenny Francis in the party last nightsee more what is for you there to increase your pocket money??.

    http://shorx.com/clickforsurvey

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.