Joe Biden

One of Biden's First Actions In Office Will be To Exercise Powers He Admits He Doesn't Have

Biden's willingness to extend a nationwide eviction moratorium, while declining to mandate masks nationwide, demonstrates a worrying inconsistency in his views on presidential powers.

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If you were hoping President Joe Biden might break from former President Donald Trump's broad view of executive authority, don't hold your breath. On Wednesday afternoon, Biden plans on extending the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) eviction moratorium through the end of March.

That moratorium prohibits landlords—under penalty of stiff fines and even jail time—from evicting tenants for non-payment if they file a hardship declaration stating that they are unable to pay rent because of the pandemic and their eviction would result in them moving into a crowded living situation.

The Trump administration, through the CDC, first issued this moratorium back in September. It was extended through the end of January by the relief bill passed by Congress at the end of December.

Throughout the pandemic, federal housing agencies have issued a slew of eviction and foreclosure protections for residents of single-family homes financed or owned by a government-sponsored enterprise like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or with a federally insured mortgage. The CARES Act, passed in March 2020, paused evictions at multi-family properties with a federally insured mortgage and for renters receiving federal housing aid.

The CDC's eviction moratorium is distinct in that it applies to all rental properties nationwide, regardless of any federally insured mortgage or participation in a government housing program. The sweeping nature of that moratorium, and the fact that it was initially issued by executive fiat, has sparked numerous legal challenges.

"There's definitely separation-of-powers problems with the president just making up law or the CDC just making up law. That's what happened under Trump with the CDC when they issued the national eviction moratorium," says Luke Wake, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which has filed multiple lawsuits challenging the CDC's moratorium. "Biden is doing this on the same flawed statutory construction."

The CDC has relied on a very broad interpretation of the Public Health Service Act to justify its initial moratorium. That law gives federal health officials the authority to make regulations "reasonably necessary" to prevent the interstate spread of communicable disease, including "inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, and destruction of animals or articles believed to be sources of infection."

The potential for evicted tenants to move into crowded living situations, spreading COVID-19 in those environments, made an eviction ban a "reasonably necessary" means of combating the pandemic, according to the CDC.

That's a sweeping claim of authority on the part of the agency, as some legal observers have noted.

"If Trump can use this authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium, Joe Biden (or some other future president) could use it to impose a nationwide mask mandate, a nationwide lockdown, or just about any other restriction of any activity that could potentially reduce the spread of the flu, the common cold, or any other disease," wrote George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy in September.

Biden himself appears unwilling to embrace this expansive view of executive power when it comes to things like masks. The president initially claimed on the campaign trail that he could issue a nationwide mask mandate before deciding that that power was beyond the scope of the presidency. Last week he also explicitly called on Congress to pass another extension of the nationwide eviction moratorium through the end of September 2021.

All of that would suggest that even Biden believes congressional action is necessary to extend the CDC's eviction moratorium.

"There's a sense that [Biden] can't really do it, or it's legally questionable about whether he can legally do it, so he wants to get Congress to do something to cover his tracks," Wake tells Reason. "The fact that Congress did pass a bill to provide a nationwide moratorium on evictions for a month speaks to the fact that when Congress wants to pass that kind of legislation, they can do it."

At best, this suggests Biden has an inconsistent view of his own powers to fight the pandemic. More concerning is the possibility that the new president is letting politics, not legal principles, guide his executive actions.

If that's true, Biden is forgoing the imposition of a nationwide mask mandate not because it would be illegal, but because it would be unpopular.

It raises the worrying possibility that the president could impose any number of pandemic-related restrictions, from a mask mandate to business closures, should he perceive that to be a politically advantageous move.

NEXT: Biden’s Inauguration Was Small and Quiet. Good.

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  1. Congress, has no power to do this either. Get an Amendment or fuck off.

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  2. “More concerning is the possibility that the new president is letting politics, not legal principles, guide his executive actions.”

    And the “no fucking shit” award goes to …. all of fucking Reason for pretending they didn’t see this coming while stumping for Biden and trashing Trump at every opportunity, no matter how irrational the criticism.

    1. “no matter how irrational the criticism”

      LOL

      The vast majority of Reason’s anti-Drumpf articles adhere to this template: “Drumpf is doing things that make it difficult for Charles Koch to get richer.” Which is a perfectly rational critique coming from a Koch-funded writer.

      #InDefenseOfBillionaires

      1. It’s not about Charles Koch getting richer, it’s about everyone else becoming poorer.
        Gotta keep them serfs down.
        Therein lies the real offense of Trump vs the ruling caste, and their loyal servants.

    2. Pretty much. I look forward to Reason becoming disillusioned after realizing that the Democrats are indeed worse than the Republicans they’ve spent 4 years whining, lying, and exaggerating about.

      No one is dumb enough to think that the Libertarian Party will ever win, and it’s painfully obvious that Trump is more pro-liberty than Biden by a decent clip. And Trump is an anarchist civil libertarian compared to Harris.

      In addition, only politically suicidal libertarians and neocons are the only other groups that support open borders and neither of them are very popular among non-Democrats.

      1. Do you really think that if Reason had unconditionally supported Trump for four years that Reason’s “clout” would have mattered one iota in the outcome of the recent election? Gosh, if they had that kind of influence we’d all be sending them five figure donations.
        No, Trump threw gasoline on the media bonfire and conservatives failed to make a convincing case to the American public that Trump deserved a second term. Libertarians didn’t bring down Trump or elevate Biden. No, it was Trump himself, his toady conservative followers, and Chicomvirus that cost him re-election.

        1. “Do you really think that if Reason had unconditionally supported Trump for four years that Reason’s “clout” would have mattered one iota in the outcome of the recent election?”

          No — but that’s not the point. The point is watching Reason and its brigade of third rate “journalists” untangling their brains from the hivemind pretzel into which they’ve twisted it over the past four years.

          The whole “oh shit, I didn’t see this coming” routine is abysmally pathetic.

          1. ^^THIS!

            By gosh, I think you’ve got it!!

        2. Stop rationalizing the way they sold out to the common D.C./media narrative to paint a different picture than reality.

        3. Fuck off Jeff

          1. It’s Chipper

        4. “Trump threw gasoline on the media bonfire and conservatives failed to make a convincing case to the American public that Trump deserved a second term.”

          Which apparently only affected feminized men like creech here…

        5. “…No, Trump threw gasoline on the media bonfire and conservatives failed to make a convincing case to the American public that Trump deserved a second term…”
          Bullshit.
          That bonfire was lit and fanned by the media; it took and needed nothing from Trump at all. If Trump had cured cancer from the WH kitchen, the media would have screamed that the cure wasn’t properly ‘regulated’.

    3. Absolutely, meanwhile Reason puts this libertarian purity test on those they will support which wins exactly zero elections. Nothing but mental masturbation on political theory with no results.

      1. their chinese masters are happy ………and chinajoe agrees

      2. But masturbation is very popular. So you would think it would win.

        What if the function of libertarians was not to win elections but to influence the polity? If the LP got 10% of the vote for example the parties would have to listen to them as most elections are narrow.

        Since third parties never win all libs have is principle. Abandon that and there is nothing left.

        1. Yeah, I tend to wander back and forth on that one.

          I do think Libertarians should probably do this more by focusing on local elections and reforms where we have seen some gains. And, honestly, a grass-roots bottom up reformist approach is more consistent with the worldview.

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  3. Just look at all the masked morons donning their diapers at the coronation of creepy Joe.

    1. Hey, LibertyMike. Good to see ya.

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  4. “More concerning is the possibility that the new president is letting politics, not legal principles, guide his executive actions.”

    There is also a possibility the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.
    Joe will do whatever his puppet masters tell him to do for the next two years. As soon as the 2022 elections are over, out he goes on an article 25 resolution admitting what is already obvious.

    1. It the traditional Reason writer’s shocking naivete and surprise that the Democrats actually mean what they say when they tell you what their vision of government is.

      1. VERY WELL SAID

  5. “If you were hoping President Joe Biden might break from former President Donald Trump’s broad view of executive authority, don’t hold your breath.”

    On the contrary, I hope President Biden uses his powers — he just needs to do so in a way that reverses Drumpf’s actions. For example Drumpf built and ran literal concentration camps, which I’m sure Biden is liberating and dismantling as we speak.

    #AbolishConcentrationCamps

    1. But don’t we need them to hold the millions of white nationalist in this country?

      1. While alt-right white nationalists are indeed a bigger threat now than Al Qaeda was 20 years ago, concentration camps aren’t necessary. Instead we should just make it impossible for them to communicate online. Or hold jobs. Then their movement will go away permanently.

        1. I think most of our jobs are that way. I know mine is. There are certain things that would have my ass out the door in five minutes.

      2. Nah, they’re just going up against a wall. The re-education camps will be reserved for run of the mill Trump voters who aren’t full on white nationalists, IOW the few that can be deprogrammed.

    2. That’s the joke, right?

      Why would Biden dismantle aspects of Obama’s legacy?

    3. Pretty much all the camps had been built before Trump took office. If you are locked up by a Democrat, it really didn’t happen at all.

      1. cuz you can’t hold husseinzero or pelousi accountable …….. nor chinajoe going forward

  6. Is anyone planning to mention that Biden is reentering the Paris accord, which is a completely unconstitutional treaty that was never submitted to, much less ratified, by the senate?

    1. Ken it’s reason what do they care about the constitution or freeminds or free markets.

    2. Will Joe Biden Destroy Trump’s Legacy of Deregulation?
      – lil Britches yesterday

      It makes note of the Paris Acord reentry while talking about regulations in general. But doubtful they make the constitutional argument here. They didn’t for 4 years with the Trump tariffs and they were unconstitutional and were much maligned by the writers.

      1. Where are Tariffs UN-Constitutional? Paris Accord is UN-Constitutional because it demands the federal government do things it wasn’t given the authority to do.

        1. The part where only Congress has the authority to lay taxes. Our founders explicitly gave them the power; not the Executive. No Amendment to the constitution has been passed giving that power to the president; ergo any law is unconstitutional giving that power to the president.

          Sort of flies in the face of the whole “No taxation without Representation” rallying cry; the main reason we went to war with Britain to gain our independence.

          1. Yes; Via Executive Order; just like DACA was… Good Point.

    3. It’s not a treaty so it doesn’t bind Congress.

      1. What is that supposed to mean?!

        1. Uh, signalling?

        2. It’s not legally binding on anyone.

          1. except the Real Americans that are FORCED to pay the democruds/gimmedats/invaders/jihadis bills ……..

    4. Biden’s reentering the Paris carbon emissions accord is a multi trillion dollar economic, political and military give away to the Chinese government (after they gave Hunter, James and the Big Guy millions of dollars).

      While the Paris accord requires even more significant reductions in annual US carbon emissions, it allows China (and India) to continue emitting even greater carbon emissions over the next decade (than would more than offset all of the carbon reductions by the US, and render our progress as ineffective).

      The Paris accord will do little or nothing to reduce global carbon emissions, but will severely disadvantage Americans and America’s future economy while enriching and emboldening the Chinese Communist government.

      1. but……. the accord will get the democrooks from solyndra, etal, back to rolling in US taxpayer money….. thanks chinajoe

  7. “If you were hoping President Joe Biden might break from former President Donald Trump’s broad view of executive authority, don’t hold your breath.”

    There was absolutely no reason to have any sort of hope for that. He is a Democrat. All you have to do listen to what Democrats say about what they believe the lack of limits on government and executive power are. All you have to do is look at their policy goals and prescriptions. If you thought there was hope Biden would embrace a humble view of executive power, then you are not paying attention, which would seem to be a dereliction of duty as a political journalist.

    1. At least California politicians will go back to knowing an EO isn’t established law like they forgot with DACA.

    1. It is going to be interesting to see how Reason and the rest of Media ween themselves off of Trump’s fat, orange teets.

      Reason isn’t like Huffington Post, where a single Trump twitter vomit gets millions of page views of people looking for an Amen Experience from a lefty writer. Reason has a diverse audience who came to argue about the merits. Unfortunately, Reason acted like a lefty rag, and so I really wonder how many people are going to stick around to hear about Biden doing exactly what everyone expects Biden to do.

  8. My favorite part of the last few weeks has been watching opposition politicians and citizens from countries with authoritarian governments (Russia, Hong Kong, venezuela) all saying how much the current democratic and media narrative in the US reminds them of their countries.

    1. ie ………… cheating elections

  9. More concerning is the possibility that the new president is letting politics, not legal principles, guide his executive actions.

    Noooo, the hell you say! /sarc

  10. Biden will once against start directing taxpayer dollars to friendly DNC groups through settlements.

    https://dailycaller.com/2021/01/20/joe-biden-order-review-barack-obama-slush-fund-payments/

    1. With the backlog of regulatory bullshit Trump put a temporary stop to, I expect the courts are going to be booked up solid for the next year or so working out settlements between regulatory agencies and friendly plaintiffs demanding the regulatory agency do exactly what the regulatory agency wanted to do in the first place.

      1. And every freaking one of them will have “standing” won’t they?

  11. Well, Reason…. what now?
    “Tom Elliott
    @tomselliott 53m
    .@JohnBrennan
    : Biden intel community “are moving in laser-like fashion to try to uncover as much as they can about” the pro-Trump “insurgency” that harbors “religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians”

    1. Reason isn’t libertarian, so why should they care?

  12. One of Biden’s First Actions In Office Will be To Exercise Powers He Admits He Doesn’t Have

    Like so many other Presidents have done.

  13. “More concerning is the possibility that the new president is letting politics, not legal principles, guide his executive actions.”

    No need for concern. All politicians today are guided by politics since legal principles is a losing play. It’s always reelection or bust! That’s probably what brought Trump down, he was too focused on his personal opinion rather than trying to appease everyone.

  14. Does anyone know if Mexico ended up paying for it?

    1. They said they sent the check; what, you didn’t get it?

    2. Does anyone assume TDS-addled shit has more than one braincell?
      Fuck off and die; make your dog happy and the world a more intelligent place.

  15. I wonder which ex-president they’ll impeach next? W? Reagan? Jefferson and Washington owned slaves.

    1. They haven’t impeached any ex-presidents yet.

      1. You’re a lot of fun.

  16. You know who else let politics, not legal principles, drive his executive actions?

    1. The one who came up with New Coke?

  17. Joe and his ….both are low IQ and we should expect more stupidity…it will come daily..

  18. It’s actually a perverse incentive to not work – so you can claim hardship and live rent free. This pushes more small businesses into bankruptcy and makes us more dependent on big government and big corporations. And it was all a self-inflicted, artificial crisis.

    The only way out is to abolish government dependence entirely – including social security and medicare. The question is whether enough people will realize this in time to vote libertarian in the next cycle.

    1. You can abolish those things but I want my money back with compounded interest. I would be on the beach right now if they did that. As it is I will never see most of that.

  19. At his inaugural speech, Biden’s called for unity while declaring war on domestic terrorists and white supremacy (which are code words for Trump supporters).

    And at her first press conference today, the new White House press spokeswoman/person (in response to a question) absurdly and divisively claimed that the US Senate had a “Constitutional Duty” to conduct an Trump impeachment trial (while it conducted other Senate business).

    But in fact, the US Constitution doesn’t authorize/allow (let alone require) the Senate to conduct an impeachment trial of any private citizen who is no longer a public official (as the entire purpose of impeachment was/is to remove a public official from office, not to prevent private citizens from running for political office).

    Nothing like Biden and his staff attacking Trump within hours (or perhaps minutes) after calling for national unity, and after taking office.

    1. Bill Godshall
      January.20.2021 at 11:28 pm
      “At his inaugural speech, Biden’s called for unity while declaring war on domestic terrorists and white supremacy (which are code words for Trump supporters). […]”
      Missed it (surprise!) but dog whistles were expected.

    2. There is also may be a constitutional question of whether an impeachment by one Congress can be taken up by the new Senate of the succeeding Congress.

  20. “If you were hoping President Joe Biden might break from former President Donald Trump’s broad view of executive authority” then you are a dufus because even his supporters didn’t think that.

    1. ^THIS!! lol… The spotlight is being projected. Obama made a name for himself as the E.O. King.

      1. what, talking bad about st hussein ……….. you must be rayciss!!!

  21. Trump made some mistakes (Ironically less than any other president in the last Decade)… Biden has Revolutionary PLANS that are ALL mistakes. There is a vast difference between the two.

  22. Must admit, Biden won this election. I’m sure better days await us after this pandemic has passed.

    1. must admit…….. the democheaters got to add another name to the kennedy, johnson & carter election steal wall of fame

  23. Wearing purple for bipartisanship. What a JOKE. Don’t they ever see how obvious their behavior is? I guess not, because too many people buy into it.

    1. look at all the estupidos that voted for st hussein ………

  24. tenants earning up to $99,000 ($198,000 for joint filers) cannot be evicted for not paying their rent provided they tell their landlord in writing that they’ve made all efforts to obtain government assistance, have lost income or received extraordinary out-of-pocket medical bills, and that their eviction would force them into homelessness or into a crowded living situation.

    *** meekly raises hand ***

    Does what they tell have to be true?

    1. yea …. another year of free rent ….. gth landlord/propertyowner

  25. There are a couple things that would have me up and cheering for Biden

    – abolish daylight savings time

    – go to metric system

    – bring back those food courts we had in malls. Loved those but not sure how he could do that. Of course he would have to fix this Corona thing first. Getting tired of carry out and delivery.

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