President Barack Obama's disregard for the constitutional prerogatives of the U.S. Congress is becoming so obvious, so blatant, that even the major media can no longer ignore it.
The latest example is the administration's failure to deliver a budget for Fiscal Year 2014 to Capitol Hill by the statutory deadline, the first Monday in February. Presidential budgets have been late before, but Obama's FY2014 document is so late that, for the first time since the budget act was passed in 1974, both the House and Senate have completed and acted on budget resolutions before the White House's spending plan ever saw the light of day.
There may be a good reason for this. The staff at the White House Office of Management and Budget may have been too busy figuring out the president's picks for the NCAA brackets to finish up a plan for a responsible, balanced budget. On the other hand they may have decided "Why bother?" as the numbers would all be fiction anyway. As presidential spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged almost two months ago, whatever budget OMB comes up with won't balance in FY 2014 or, for that matter, ever.
Increasingly, as Anita Kumar wrote for McClatchy Newspapers recently, Obama is "turning to executive power to get what he wants." "As he launches his second term," Kumar wrote, "Obama has grown more comfortable wielding power to try to move his own agenda forward, particularly when a deeply fractured, often-hostile Congress gets in his way."
Among the actions he's taken unilaterally, Obama has delayed the deportation of young illegal immigrants when Congress wouldn't agree; ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence, which Congress halted nearly 15 years ago; told the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, deciding that the 1996 law defining marriage as between a man and a woman was unconstitutional; and he's "vowed to act on his own if Congress didn't pass policies to prepare for climate change," wrote Kumar.
He's also taken it upon himself to decide when Congress was in recess for the purpose of making temporary appointments to the executive branch and independent agencies—which the federal courts have ruled he does not have the power to do—while agencies run by his appointees have moved forward on policy changes that Congress has expressly prohibited, like Net neutrality.
The irony here is not that Obama is expanding the power of the presidency through his use of executive orders, but that he is doing so after having been harshly critical of similar efforts undertaken by George W. Bush.
"These last few years we've seen an unacceptable abuse of power at home," Obama said in an October 2007 speech cited by Kumar. "We've paid a heavy price for having a president whose priority is expanding his own power." The man who said that is far different from the one who, in 2011 said, "We're not waiting for Congress… I intend to do everything in my power right now to act on behalf of the American people, with or without Congress. We can't wait for Congress to do its job. So where they won't act, I will."
Obama's hypocrisy on this score is not only matched but exceeded by the myriad of leftwing groups that, while willing to go to rhetorical war with Bush over his use of executive orders and signing statements, are cheering the current president on, encouraging him to go even farther. This should come as little surprise, as the people who wield power are always less cautious about its abuse than the people who want it.