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Monday
August 15th, 2022
L&T Opinions Page

earl wattL&T Publisher Earl Watt

 

It’s not Joe Biden eating ice cream or proposing trillion dollar solutions to problems that don’t exist that should be troubling to Americans. The real problem we may have is whether or not a president from either party has been given too much authority, and if the answer to that is yes, how do we scale it back?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was so afraid of President Donald Trump in the final days of his presidency that she communicated with top levels of his cabinet to make sure Trump was not going to launch nuclear bombs at China.

That was never going to happen, and Pelosi was clearly practicing hyperpartisanship when she said it.

But the bigger question is, does a president have that much authority?

It might be surprising to conceive, but a president just might have that type of ability. He could be reigned in by a cabinet if that group of people believed the action to be not of sound mind. Other than that, the president has few checks on nuclear capabilities.

That’s just one of many powers given to the president that might need to be revisited.

Executive orders have also become a new way of providing almost dictatorial power to the presidency.

For the most part, executive orders were meant to help clarify an existing law, and the media and modern presidents like to point out that every president has issued an executive order all the way back to George Washington.

But the more modern use of the executive order is to go beyond clarifying an existing law and practically inventing a law of their own.

For example, President Barack Obama used his executive authority to create an order called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA.

Without existing law, Obama “deferred” legal action against minors who were brought into the United States illegally.

Why did Obama create DACA, and what legal authority did he have to do it?

Obama created DACA when Congress failed to pass his DREAM Act legislation proposal which would have provided a path to citizenship for those who were in the country illegally.

DACA, according to Obama, was “a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.”

All good intentions, but it lacked Congressional support, and when Obama was replaced by Donald Trump, he asked Congress for a permanent solution or he would phase out the DACA program.

When it comes to executive orders, Congress has no role. At all.

Only presidents can overturn or continue executive orders, which contradicts our legal system.

These executive orders continued under Trump and now under Joe Biden.

Trump used executive orders to divert funding toward building a wall along the southern border, and Biden quickly rescinded it when he became president.

Biden has also used executive orders to push his climate agenda by making it harder on energy producers, and he used executive orders to ban drilling on federal lands while also ending the construction of the Keystone pipeline.

Each president has this authority, but is it being used as intended, and should it be limited?

The answer is yes, presidential authority should be limited.

Under presidential authority, and even gubernatorial authority in most states, executive authority can become dictatorial.

Congress cannot rescind an executive order. All they can do is try to eliminate funding for presidential executive orders. That can be challenging if the program being implemented by a president works within current funding guidelines.

Without a vote from Congress, Biden turned the United States from an energy-independent nation into a nation relying on OPEC and Russia for fuel, and the costs have skyrocketed.

Should this have required a vote in Congress? Should a president be able to implement a policy without Congress that disrupts the lives of every American?

Presidents were never meant to be dictatorial, and most limited themselves for the overreach of the executive order.

But in today’s highly volatile political climate, elected officials are using their authority to new levels.

The main complaints about the 2020 election are how local officials and some state officials handled mail-in ballots. Depending on their political leanings, they either allowed or disallowed votes that came in after deadlines, or they extended deadlines unilaterally using their discretion that was granted to them by state legislatures.

Many believe that authority was abused, and some believe it was used to sway the election results.

But none of it was illegal because massive authority has been granted to those holding some of these positions, and if they choose not to practice self-restraint, they can use that authority to its full political benefit.

If this can happen at the state level, why would be believe presidents won’t take full advantage of their ability to write executive orders as if they are laws?

They do, and they have, and it will continue.

No matter which side of the aisle a person may be, there will always be a president from the other side, and it would be equally beneficial to both sides to limit the growing power of the presidency.

By doing so, this will also force Congress to actually work together to take action rather than the temporary policy changes that will be enacted by one president only to be overturned by the next.

The best way to keep each party in check is to limit executive authority.