Why conservatives should applaud Obama’s decision to ignore the law

Byline: | Category: 2012, Government, Regulations, Taxes & Spending | Posted at: Sunday, 17 June 2012

Republicans upset over President Obama’s decision to ignore the illegal immigration of hundreds of thousands of young foreigners should be overjoyed by the precedent the President sets.  Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor asserts that by ignoring Congress, Obama is “reshaping the power of the presidency.”  Actually, he is just re-asserting a power the presidency had long exercised until relatively recent history.  While I happen to believe that the United States would be better off with greatly expanded legal immigration opportunities, even those conservatives of a more xenophobic persuasion should find plenty to like about Obama’s Friday announcement. 

The decision to cease enforcing particular provisions of immigration law was not, as some commentors have asserted, a presidential usurpation of legislative power.  The Executive branch is not making law, as was the case when it attempted to declare carbon dioxide to be a pollutant in violation of the powers granted to the EPA by Congress.  Instead, this is a case where the President disagrees with a law on the books, and thus unilaterally decides not to carry it out. 

We have a long history of a passive aggressive presidency.  Thomas Jefferson refused to spend $50,000 to buy gunboats to patrol the Mississippi River and America’s border with the French colony on its western bank when his purchase of Louisiana in 1803 made moot that border.  I’m sure there was some Congressman in whose district those boats were to be made who objected to this first use of presidential impoundment power.  Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge were both famously cool toward the idea of enforcing the Volstead Act outlawing alcohol.  Grover Cleveland didn’t fill numerous appointments, believing that government payrolls had grown  bloated through patronage and spoils.

Since the very beginning of our Nation’s founding, there has been (by design) a healthy tension between the Legislative branch, which writes laws, and the Executive Branch, which executes those laws.  Laws were only de facto valid when they were both on the books and willingly enforced.  As every law is a limit upon the people, this created a very high barrier to restrictions on individual rights.  In modern parlance we would say that it is a “feature, not a flaw,” as the tension between the branches reinforces the desired ideal that the default position of the federal government is inaction.  

If President Obama’s frustration over a “do nothing” Congress prompts him to respond with a “do nothing” government, then I’m all for it.  Imagine the good that could be done if a Republican president used Obama’s precedent:   By not filling tens of thousands of authorized positions, he could shrink the size of government.  By refusing to enforce some environmental regulations, he could remove barriers to economic growth and greater employment.  By canceling unnecessary weapon systems, he could remove the influence of earmarks from the defense budget.

Instead of complaining about Obama’s decision, conservatives should applaud anything which increases government inaction.  Meanwhile Democrats who applaud the President’s decision for the short-term advantage it might give them, should be very wary of handing a precedential hammer to a future Republican president who could use it to smash big government.

UPDATE:

Thanks for the links from Glenn, Rand, and Allah.  And thanks all for the comments.  I expected this post to produce some complaints.  Let me address some of them as they generally boil down to a few general ideas:

Liberals don’t respect precedent when it goes against them.  That’s a matter of opinion, and somewhat irrelevant.  However, if I were offering advice to the Romney campaign (I’m on active duty so I can’t do that) I would tell them to respond to this presidential move by listing the laws that he intends to ignore as soon as he becomes president.  Commenter Smart Dude says: “Call this ‘The Obama Rule’ and shove this right in the[ir] face. . . There have to be a thousand  insane regulations that need not to be enforced. Start with the War on Coal and the shutting down of irrigation water to Western agriculture.”  I’m sure that Romney could score many political points with this approach, particularly in the realms of spending and environmental restrictions.  Additionally, there is much entertainment value in this approach, as American voters would have the fun of watching David Axelrod contort himself explaining why ignoring one set of laws is good while ignoring another set of laws is wrong. 

Conservatives believe in the rule of law; and this measure violates that.  This is why I hate labels.  There are those who believe in a strong legal system that punishes miscreants; they are often called “conservative.”  There are those who believe in a legally enforeable system that regulates morality and they are often called “conservative.”  There are those who believe that government should allow individuals maximum latitude and that individuals should rise and fall on the consequences of their actions; they too are often called “conservatives.”  I could offer a dozen other depictions of conservative beliefs, half of which would conflict with the other half.   Instead, I dispense with those labels and use “more individualism” versus “more centralization” when it comes to who gets to exercise power.  So while I believe in “law and order,” I am always cognizant of the fact that law is not an established fact but a transitory event.  Free men should always question whether or not a law still makes sense.  And if one determines that it does not, it is his duty to violate it.  (Believe me, I’ve lived a half-dozen years in a country where people did not believe that way, and 70 years later, they’re still confronting the ugliness of their inaction.)  Does it still make sense to prohibit employment and education opportunities to American residents who, through no fault of their own, came to the States as minors and have been raised as Americans?  I don’t think so.  Similary, does it make sense to prohibit the reconstruction of a reservoir that provides literal sustenance to a community because a bird is threatened?  Again, I don’t think so.  Some laws are so intuitively stupid that they deserve breaking.  And guess what:  if you disagree, you get a vote next November and every fourth November after that.

It is an unconstitutional usurpation of legislative authority.  I’ve mentioned several historical examples of why presidents have ignored the law.  I don’t think that any of those were considered to be unconstitutional at the time.  (Admittedly, the end of impoundment is a pet peeve of mine; to understand why, you only have to have spent one September as a government employee.)  To one degree or another, executives of any organization have to prioritize what it is that their organization will do.  My background is the army.  If a company commander were to comply with every directive, order, regulation, and mandate that came before him, he would have no time remaining to actually train his soldiers.  His soldiers’ time instead would be consumed by diversity training, dental appointments, and half-day Thursdays.  Every new “good idea” seemingly requires a four-hour annual block of instruction.  The military is no different from society at large.  Complying with the myriad rules (and often contradictory rules, at that) exhausts the ability of an executive to execute anything meaningful.  Hence, the job of the modern executive is to determine which rules one can “get away with” violating on the way to actually accomplishing something.  It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.  This precedent recognizes that fact.

Thanks to all commenters, and keep the comments coming in.

MORE:

Jim Delong pens this:  “Broad illegality is also useful to maximize bureaucratic discretion. Make everything illegal, and then pick and choose what to enforce.”  That’s a horrific vision of the future (present?) wherein everything is subject to the whims of whomever is elected.  Thus, it’s a valid criticism of what I have written.  Although, more precisely, it’s an indictment of the legislative branch, although not without the complicity of the executive.  If we are there, then, well, God help us. 

BTW, Jim Delong has a new book out.  I bought it and like what I’ve found so far.

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70 Responses to “Why conservatives should applaud Obama’s decision to ignore the law”

  1. mbabbitt Says:

    I prefer a do nothing Congress, than a congress that creates more regulations and taxes for programs we don’t need or get people used to government support. If this was a Republican, the Dems would be screaming bloody murder. Remember the Nuclear Option in the Senate? Dems hated it; Republicans split; then Dems wanted it for their own team when in power. And press coverage alway supports the Dems.

  2. TMLutas Says:

    If this was truly just an impoundment decision, you’d have a point. However what will also happen is that these people will get papers allowing them to work in the US, an act unauthorized by any law and thus quite different than impoundment. It is that part that is truly problematic.

  3. jms Says:

    What about issuing work permit cards to illegal aliens? Does that fall under some preexisting program?

  4. cubanbob Says:

    An excellent point, along those lines progressives also failed to consider that when enacting the ACA. If upheld it would grant powers to the federal government that in the hands of a small government and fiscally conservation administration would come back to haunt them. Since nearly anything can be reduced to an economic transaction and economic transactions like the butterfly effect have a national impact, many of the restrictive and ill conceived state and local statutes and regulations could be swept aside by the federal government. Who knows how the court will rule but when given lemons, make lemonade.

  5. George Says:

    Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, the president has the duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

  6. Skyler Says:

    But that was then. This is now. Since those days the Supreme Court has ruled that the president must execute the laws enacted. Nixon tried to not spend some money and the courts ruled that he must spend it. To be legal, Obama must get this supreme court precedent overturned.

  7. John Fembup Says:

    “If President Obama’s frustration over a “do nothing” Congress prompts him to respond with a “do nothing” government, then I’m all for it.”

    Really? And once the power is ceded to the president to ignore the law, where is the guarantee this or any future president will only exercise such power to “do nothing” ?

  8. Francis W. Porretto Says:

    Bah. If a law is Constitutionally licit, the president is obliged by his oath of office to enforce it. Obama has not objected to the immigration laws, or any part thereof, on Constitutional grounds. Therefore, he is in defiance of his oath of office, which obliges him to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Q.E.D.

  9. SteveM Says:

    Instead of complaining about Obama’s decision, conservatives should applaud anything which increases government inaction.

    The Obama administration is not engaging in “inaction” in this case. It is engaged in “action” – the “action” of subverting the laws passed by the peoples lawfully elected representatives, and the “action” or replacing the recalcitrant America people with a new people more sympathetic to its socialist policies.

    The Executive branch is not making law, as was the case when it attempted to declare carbon dioxide to be a pollutant in violation of the powers granted to the EPA by Congress. Instead, this is a case where the President disagrees with a law on the books, and thus unilaterally decides not to carry it out.

    That’s terrific! So, if the President can both enforce laws he has made up AND ignore the real law as passed by Congress, what sort of government are we again? Anybody? You there, Krumm?

    The answer is not “the perfect libertarian dictatorship”.

  10. Octus Says:

    Excellent point. There is a bumper sticker needed saying “The default position of the Federal Government is inaction!” Now if someone more clever could write a catchy one.

  11. Dave S Says:

    I have to disagree, Bob. The examples you give the executive chooses inaction. In Obama’s case he’s taking a positive action (granting de facto amnesty). With the dream act the result is special status is granted to a favored group to the detriment of other groups..

  12. Carl Hardwick Says:

    I respectfully disagree.

    What do conservative believe in? Conservative ideas or conservative ideas expressed via rule of law?

    If you believe in the former, then you’re right, conservatives, when it’s their turn in office, will be able to reshape government without dealing with a Democrat congress.

    But what happens with leftists are in power?

    If you believe in the latter, then what Obama has done is revolutionary. He’s selectively abandoned parts of the constitution. If conservatives do the same, leftists will have won.

    If both sides abandon the constitution, then the idea of limited government depends solely on which party is in power.

    Right now, about half the time leftists are limited in how far they can abandon constitutional principles.

    If conservatives abandon the constitution as well, then conservatives merely set a precedent for leftists to discard the constitution when it’s their turn in office.

    If it turns out that no matter which party is in power, the idea if limited government, subject to checks and balances, is gone.

    Is that really a victory for conservatives? I don’t think so.

  13. Dave In Colorado Says:

    If I actually believed that what the Obama administration has in mind is simply government inaction, I might agree with your premise. But I see this as a very activist executive branch step that will lead to mutiple directives going out to multiple agencies, all with more required spending attached. Policy considerations aside, this is not the right way to run government.

    The strange corollary is that I don’t believe that Obama personally cares whether any implementation of his order takes place. It was crude & crass political move designed to enhance his electoral prospects. Obama cares no more about doing the “right thing” for this selected group than he does for the U.S. in general.

  14. Jim Murray Says:

    Counting apples, oranges, pears, and lemons as if they were the identical does not make for very good argument. A law whose purpose has been frustrated (the gunboats), declaring possession of power in violation of a law (EPA), and not exercising a granted power (filling appointments) are not the same fruits.
    The current occupier of the oval office has also made appointments (NLRB) in clear violation of the law (now that is a lemon!)
    Standing alone, not filling appointed positions is a great idea. The power to appoint includes the power to not appoint. By using the law and its inherent power, a President does have the ability to limit the size of government.
    If he opts to leave a commission short of members so that it cannot function, for example, he will legally cut the size of government, regulation, and spending. He will have done so without violating the law, declaring himself to have powers he does not have, or declaring a law invalid or not be be obeyed. Bravo for that.

  15. PersonFromPorlock Says:

    Krumm is making a point that most commenters here are missing: that IF Obama is setting a precedent, progressives should be very nervous: They can’t claim that this is legitimate without legitimising that when a conservative president does it.

    Whether it is legitimate is another matter entirely. What’s here is a variation on “Be careful what you pray for….”

  16. Scott Says:

    I would suggest there is a very important difference between inaction on the part of the executive branch regarding a specific law the legislative branch has passed, and going beyond that inaction with presidential edicts creating actions that deliberately go against that very law.

    In this case, it isn’t that the law is just not being enforced – it is the fact the executive branch has gone farther and begun to legislate from the white house in issuing work permits to a class of people congress did not intend to provide such work permits to.

  17. Bill Peschel Says:

    And what about signing statements, popularized by Reagan and Bush, in which they sign a bill into law, then attach a statement saying they’re not going to enforce a part of it? What part of the Constitution gave them that right?

    So, with that as a precedent, what Obama did was just an extension of it. Since he can get away with it, then the Constitution has no meaning anymore, because its provisions are no longer enforced.

    As your commenters point out, there’s a big difference between enacting legislation and starving it by leaving provisions unfilled. Now, what we have is a president who can rule by fiat, and with each change of party, the rules will change. With that, we’ve bred more uncertainty in the economic system (because we’ll whipsaw between administrations) and have discouraged long-term investment and planning.

  18. MarkJ Says:

    Seems to me that if I were a prog environmentalist or abortion-rights advocate I’d be rending my clothes, gnashing my teeth, and wailing in despair over Obama’s recent “too-clever-by-half” moves.

    By the same token, President Romney will undoubtedly be very grateful for the precedents handed to him by his predecessor on a silver platter. Being the thoughtful guy he is, Mitt will certainly send Obama a nice thank-you card and fruit basket as a token of his appreciation. ;)

  19. JWnTX Says:

    This is my thinking as well. A President Romney will be able to tell the EPA to stand down and stop enforcing the Clean Air Act without doing exhaustive economic impact studies. He’ll be able to do the same with the FDIC and other financial regulators, as well as tell them that Sarbanes-Oxley is now not to be enforced. He’ll be able to tell HHS not to implement Obamacare. Hell, I LOVE this precedent. It will be the camel’s nose under the tent to undo almost 40 years of idiocy on both parties’ part.

  20. SteveM Says:

    Krumm is making a point that most commenters here are missing: that IF Obama is setting a precedent, progressives should be very nervous: They can’t claim that this is legitimate without legitimising that when a conservative president does it.

    If progressives were renowned for their intellectual consistency, that might be a fair point. Since their most salient characteristic is their eagerness to subordinate any and every principle to their lust for power, it’s not. How’s the closing of Gitmo coming along?

  21. SteveM Says:

    While I happen to believe that the United States would be better off with greatly expanded legal immigration opportunities, even those conservatives of a more xenophobic persuasion …

    I think you meant to say “Since I happen to believe that ..”.

    Your approval of his means is contingent on your approval of his ends.

    His ends spell the death of any sort of limited government in the US. As usual, libertarians are cheering on this end.

  22. Sue Says:

    When then, will there no longer be a president of the USA ,but a King? Where are we heading???

  23. Tom Maguire Says:

    Thi is from the intro of a Congressional Research Service review of signing statements:

    “Presidential signing statements are official pronouncements issued by the President
    contemporaneously to the signing of a bill into law that, in addition to commenting on the law generally, have been used to forward the President’s interpretation of the statutory language; to assert constitutional objections to the provisions contained therein; and, concordantly, to announce that the provisions of the law will be administered in a manner that comports with the administration’s conception of the President’s constitutional prerogatives.”

    Obviously, the Executive and Legislative branches may differ on the constitutionality of a particular provision or the full scope of an Executive power, but that is not the situation we are in with Obama.

  24. Net hick Says:

    I agree with Bob. The President does have the right to selectively enforce the law. It has happened all through history with good and bad results.

    The division of power in our form of government exists as a check and balance against one branch controlling the others.

    But the people get to decide in November if the executive branch has failed to lead this country in the right direction. I suspect the President lost more union votes than he gained with this.

    This looks like political desperation instead of leadership to me. Why? Because if this was really the right thing to do, why wait until 5 months before the election? Why not 3 years ago or 2?

  25. Smart Dude Says:

    Call this “The Obama Rule” and shove this right in the face of the corrupt democrat/bureaucractic Permanent Government.

    There have to be a thousand insane regulations that need not to be enforced. Start with the War on Coal and the shutting down of irrigation water to Western agriculture.

  26. Jim,MtnView,Ca,USA Says:

    “even those conservatives of a more xenophobic persuasion”
    Would like to note that one can favor enforcement of laws and not be xenophobic. Hater.

  27. thom Says:

    not sure what you’re trying to get across here – the O declares a Federal law null and ignores it , DOJ sues states for enforcing Federal Laws, the O declares new policy run around Congress, FLorida ignores the feds, what goes around is coming round again, now Rodney King is dead and we just can’t seem to get along, Victor Davis Hanson Help!

  28. PTL Says:

    Modest proposal. All EPA rules post January 2009
    are voided. All federal employees hired after the
    same date(military excepted) are let go. Dodd-Frank is reversed for common sense laws.
    Enforce immigration laws. Encourage a European brain drain to the US before China steps in.

  29. Don Says:

    No. This is just wrong whether it is a Democrat,Republican,Libertarian or a man from Mars.
    Unilateral decisions reduces our REPRESENTATIONAL Government, since we are a Republic and not a straight Democracy.
    We send men and women to Washington to speak for us, and this tramples that.
    Another thing… That backhanded slap : Xenophobia..
    Are you serious? Opposition to illegal activity is just that.
    Opposition to illegal activity, NOT Xenophobia.
    Hey, knuckleheads like you, Mr Krumm, and the geniuses at the Wall St Journal Editorial Board pretty much got what you wanted.
    Illegal individuals are now “legal” …Presto, with one stroke of the pen, regardless of the edge they will now have vs American students in the College application and Grant process (they can check Hispanic for grants and admissions) ….Caucasian kids have Zip.. Full freight, back of the line even if they have better test scores…
    And, with 15 Million unemployed Americans, the applicant pool has now been deepened by 1 million people.
    We are truly an insane, suicidial people if we sit back and allow this to go without protest.

  30. Andrew Says:

    I see a lot of well-intentioned misinformation in this blog post.

    Let’s take just one example: impoundment. The Supreme Court said in Train v. City of New York, 420 US 35 (1975), that the president cannot refuse to spend what Congress says shall be spent. The decision was unanimous, and not one justice even suggested that there might be some constitutional issue involved. It was simply a matter of statutory interpretation.

    Congress has sometimes made permissive rather than mandatory appropriations. That’s what happened in 1803. Congress appropriated $50,000 to build “not exceeding fifteen gun boats, to be armed, manned and fitted out, and employed for such purposes as in his opinion [THAT'S JEFFERSON'S OPINION] the public service may require,” Act of Feb. 28, 1803, ch. 11, §3, 2 Stat. 206. And JEFFERSON’S opinion was that, “The favorable and peaceable turn of affairs on the Mississippi rendered an immediate execution of that law unnecessary,” 13 Annals of Cong. 14 (1803). 

    I don’t have time to address the other non-history in this blog post. Please try to be more objective next time. Thanks.

  31. Transterrestrial Musings - The President Ignoring Immigration Law Says:

    [...] conservatives should be happy with it: …if I were offering advice to the Romney campaign (I’m on active duty so I can’t do [...]

  32. Dr. Deano Says:

    Obama is governing like a wannabe Putin or Chavez – not as a US president under the Constitution. Presidential (and other federal government) power is supposed to be constrained by the Constitution under watch of Congress and SCOTUS, not unrestrained and based upon the re-election whims of a particular president.

    Let’s be clear, no conservative worth their weight would “applaud” any president of any ideology who takes on powers not due them under the Constitution and who does not adhere to the principles upon which our government as created and is supposed to operate. Especially when they do so just to get re-elected and what they do with the power they give themselves is detrimental to American citizens.

    Only those in isolated Ivory Towers would “applaud” such a thing just for the game value.

    In this particular instance, which is just one more of far too many, Obama’s decreed “mini-amnesty” is a direct body blow to both American sovereignty and to American citizens – most especially to young Americans.

    Here in California for example, “thanks” to our legislature who passed their own ‘Dream Act’ in exchange for Hispanic/Latino votes in October of 2011, millions of American daughters and sons are now battling against cititzens-of-other-nations-living-here-in-violation-of-our-laws-and-against-the-will-of-the-people (aka, illegal aliens, undocumented immigrants) for hyper-scarce, increasingly expensive seats in state universities, colleges and community colleges, and for desperately needed state grants and tuition aid. California has a deficit of over $16B when the government forecasted $2B (which is to say they lied…) and no hope in site of the situation improving – only getting worse, much, much worse.

    It is not coincidental that California bears the burden of housing and maintaining about 50% of all “undocumented” aliens living here illegally.

    And now, “thanks” to Obama, those American kids will be competing against citizens-of-other-nations-living-her-illegally for jobs and other benefits. *And* to add insult to injury, the government will actually be *helping* illegal aliens take not only college seats and financial aid, but jobs and other benefits from my son and milions of other daughters and sons of other American citizens and legal immigrants. San Diego State University for example cut engineering programs to add several more dense layers of “diversity administrators”.

    When these kids and their parents come to realize what is being done to them by a government only interested in benefiting special-interest-cronies, the revolutionary s*it is going to hit the fan.

    “Applaud” Obama’s actions? Not a chance in hell.

  33. 98fulklnb67 Says:

    “And guess what: if you disagree, you get a vote next November and every fourth November after that.”

    You don’t get a vote, you get a vote for a bundle of policies. It would be much better if we replaced the government with direct rule by voters. Modern communication technology can allow individual natationl votes on every issue facing the government. We don’t need representative democracy anymore because it no longer takes weeks or months for representatives to gather in washington DC. Everyone with a telephone can vote from home.

  34. styrgwillidar Says:

    The deterioration of the rule of law is the path to anarchy. People like me lose faith in a government which does not uniformly uphold the laws.

    Why should I obey any laws when some group is told they don’t have to? Why should I obey some cities laws on littering or anything else when they are a ‘sanctuary city’ flagrantly assisting a group of people to violate the law?

    Obama isn’t a king, the presidency isn’t a monarchy, the power to legislate is supposed to rest with congress, the executive branch is supposed to carry out/enforce the laws not amend them. Again, this undermine’s every thinking person’s faith in the legitimacy of our government.

    This is bad for everyone regardless of political persuasion.

  35. Leatherneck Says:

    John Yoo says you’re wrong, and has the better argument by far, starting with its grounding in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, which states the president has the duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The only thing I’d add is that precedents for executive overreach in our history remain unconstitutional, no matter their reception at the time.
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/303038/executive-overreach-john-yoo

  36. JVDeLong Says:

    Often, a law is passed to placate one group, and then it goes unenforced, to placate another. Speed limits are a classic example. Immigration law is another. I do not know if it is still going on, but a few years ago an employer could get sued by the DOJ Civil Rights Division if it questioned an obviously phony ID.

    Broad illegality is also useful to maximize bureaucratic discretion. Make everything illegal, and then pick and choose what to enforce. Viz — compare the fates of Scooter Libby or Martha Stewart (minor mis-statements) with Sandy Burger (stolen documents) or Jon Corzine (stolen billions).

  37. skatzbert Says:

    For those who disagree with Mr Krumm, I would point out: Think back several months… Was it not Newt Gingrich who was highly applauded by “conservatives” when he described the hundreds of government programs/actions he would invalidate -By Executive Order- on his first day in office? Øbama’s actions play right into our hands…

  38. Fiftycal Says:

    Look at the bright side. Once the “executive order” is overturned, abolished or removed, we’ll have a handy, dandy list of 800,000 KNOWN ILLEGALS! And they will happily give us their real address and cell phone number. Then we need a law to confiscate their property to pay for sending them back to their homeland.

  39. Rich K Says:

    Semantics people. If they had said that this provision was not a priority and would be shifted down in the hierarchy of enforcement events then much of this issue would never have been given the press it has recieved.This administration is simply clumsy and mule headed about how it states its positions on pretty much any and every policy it pursues or ignores.

  40. DonM Says:

    part of the rottenness of the Obama illegality is that he directs the funds for his illegal program from fees paid by applicants to enter legally. That would be embezzlement, a high crime.

    Obama should be made personally liable for monies spent illegally from those fees.

  41. AD-RtR/OS! Says:

    Congress needs to pull back the authority they have extended (either through commission, or omission) to the Executive to craft law through regulation.
    No regulation should be enforceable without being affirmed by a majority of both the House and Senate, and signature by the President.

    Also, the Budget Act of ’74, from which so much of what is wrong in DC has sprung, needs to be repealed; so that we may return to Zero-based Budgeting, and allow the President the Power of Impoundment (many forget that impoundment can be over-riden with a 2/3 vote of the House and Senate).

  42. DonM Says:

    Legal would be the executive provide ‘prosecution guidance’ to the various district attorneys. Further, he should provide copies of the sentencing guidance to the congress, with recommended changes to legislation, to change the law to agree with the sentencing guidance.

  43. Marc Malone Says:

    Besides the other valid objections by readers here, I have two more.

    Every law is passed, not just by Congress, but also by the President, and sometimes the SC has ruled as well. So, in doing this, he is not just thwarting Congress.

    I do not have a problem with Progressives wanting, say, Universal Healthcare. I simply ask that they pass a Constitutional Amendment giving them the power to make that happen. Work with the Constitution, rather than go around it.

    In like fashion, if Obama wants to change the law, then he has the power to submit a bill to Congress. Since this is bill would require spending for the permits, it has to originate in the House.

    If Obama had followed the rules on this, and done the above, he could have achieved his goal of pandering for votes, without the blowback for the usurpation of power. Simply submit the bill to the Republican-controlled House, then use the bully pulpit to highlight it and embarrass the Pubs. Whether the bill passes or not does not actually matter for the vote-pandering.

    Doing it the way he did, just allows the Repubs to talk about the usurpation, rather than illegal immigration. So, Obama loses, because of his disdain for the Constitution. Evil bears he seeds of its own destruction, because it is inherently stupid.

  44. Bob W Says:

    The directive to not enforce immigration law for a specific set of individuals, was justified as prosecutorial discretion. It was not claimed to be a general prerogative of the President to nullify laws.

    Thus, the Democrats would NOT acquiesce to a conservative President’s nullification efforts.

    Nonetheless, Obama’s effort to orchestrate selective enforcement is not a valid use of prosecutorial discretion.

    The conservative analogue to Obama’s action would be a Presidential directive to not enforce IRS action against any Republican campaign contributor. Does not pass the smell test, and neither does Obama’s directive to selectively enforce immigration law.

  45. Quotes of the day « Hot Air Says:

    [...] Instead of complaining about Obama’s decision, conservatives should applaud anything which increases government inaction. [...]

  46. David Holland Says:

    Mr. Krumm,
    I stopped reading the moment immigration hawks were called “xenophobic.” The name-calling robbed you of your opportunity to persuade me with your ideas.

  47. pat Says:

    It is likely not a violation of law to not deport. It is, however, a violation of his oath. It most assuredly a violation to issue blanket work permits. There is no legal authorization whatsoever.

  48. Joseph Says:

    You’re right that executive discretion has been a hallmark of American governance. But there’s a problem in this case. Obama’s not choosing to not enforce a law on citizens going forward — he’s granting amnesty to non-citizens who have already broken laws broadly designed to secure the Republic. These laws are essential to the integrity of citizenship. That’s a big problem, one that can’t just be passed over as an incidental aspect of a normal exercise. It’s not the first time Obama has decided to selectively enforce (ObamaCare waivers), nor is he the first President to do so, but he’s the first to endanger the political integrity and sovereignty of US law. Rather than pushing for changes to the law to make it more accomodating to immigration, Obama is offering non-citizens protection, but *without the duties, and without the force of law to grant them the priveleges of citizens*. Over time this could, and most probably would, undermine loyalty to the USA. It’s a vital measure, in other words, and without Congressional representation to authorize it, we have to treat it as a tyrannical maneuver.

  49. RightKlik Says:

    “Does it still make sense to prohibit employment and education opportunities to American residents who, through no fault of their own, came to the States as minors and have been raised as Americans?”

    Does it make sense to reward an illegal immigrant by spending tens of thousands of dollars on their child for a education in hyphenated-victimization studies?

    If the president wants to ignore the laws that say that I have to pay for all of that crap, I might be more amenable to his immigration stance.

  50. GarandFan Says:

    1986 – “There will be no more amnesty. We will secure our borders.”

    Yeah.

  51. ertdfg Says:

    So we should support Obama’s power grabs and hope he turns the Presidency into a Dictatorial seat with exceptionally increased power; because we can forcibly do some good overriding the will of the people when we have that power?

    And you don’t see this leading to a problematic situation? You trust that OUR dictator following Obama won’t abuse the new exceptional power handed to him and we can trust our new Tyrant?

    Last I checked power corrupts; which is why we have a system of laws, rules, and checks & balances to avoid this situation. Without proof that we’ve remedied the lust for power in mankind I’m not convinced this is a good path, or one that should be encouraged.

    If we had a completely different type of people than the humans we have now, maybe… but then maybe Communism would work with those hypothetical beings too. Hypothetically it would be very efficient and compassionate; if it weren’t tried by humans.

  52. BillM Says:

    If you’re not a liberal you’re missing you’re calling. Yes, you don’t like labels, wonder why. You examples miss the mark and are irrelevant to this situation. You used pretzel logic and tied yourself in knots. Conservatives won’t go there, thanks for the offer.

  53. BoB Says:

    I don’t think you understand the Rule of Law comment if the last update is a valid criticism.

    The point of the Rule of Law is to protect people from the whims of those in power. The idea behind it is that people can’t just “violate the law” at will without consequence – INCLUDING those in power. Thus if you disagree with the law, your duty is not to violate it, but instead to CHANGE it. That is the point of the Rule of Law.

    By saying that the Rule of Law is just a way for those in power to keep it is to totally misunderstand its use and function.

    And I don’t know you from Adam, so I have no idea where you lived, but my guess is that, no, they didn’t actually follow the Rule of Law, but instead used law to keep the populace at large from gaining any sort of power. This is exactly what the Rule of Law is designed to protect AGAINST. This describes precisely that last update – where everything not mandated is illegal, and you have to curry favor with the local enforcer to get anything done. This is how most socialist systems end up working in practice.

    This is not the Rule of Law, it’s the Rule of the Bureaucrat. That’s very different.

    In the Rule of Law, the Constitution expressly lays out whose has what responsibility, and expressly states what the government is allowed to do.

    Under the Rule of Obama, whatever he says goes. He wants a law, he creates regulation. He doesn’t want a law, he refuses to enforce it.

    That’s NOT Constitutional, that’s NOT the Rule of Law, and that’s NOT what ANY of the Founding Fathers had in mind, and it’s most certainly, definitely NOT an example for ANYONE, much less anyone calling themselves “conservative” to follow.

  54. Brian G. Says:

    No mention of the criminal Bush and all the laws he broke and how should be given a fair trial, summarily convicted, and sent to The Hague for life. Bush is the biggest criminal in history and Romneynwill be no different if America decides to blame the nearest black man like it always does this November.

  55. Takingballgoinghome Says:

    Well, I am a potential legal immigrant in the US on visa doing residency training. I’m 12 months away from making an attending physician level income. The US cares more about illegals than those of us coming in legally, jumping through hoops, ponying up the fees, and waiting for legal status. I’m taking my salary (and tax money) and going home.

    Thanks for the slap in the face Mr Krumm. Of course the law doesn’t make sense if you don’t give a lick about those of us trying to come legally.

  56. Lavaux Says:

    The Obama Rule is a double-edged sword, but the downside consequences of using it accrue entirely to the citizens. First, enduring legal uncertainty translates into permanent business and investment risk diverting capital from long-term allocations to short-term ones. Do I invest a billion dollars in building a coal-fired power plant if the next Democrat president will shut me down in four to eight years? Nope, too risky, so I’ll invest in South American commodity futures because those banana republics are more reliable than ours. Second, the patronage networks that will grow around non-enforcement will take political corruption to a whole new level, and they’ll seek to expand their clientèle beyond all reason. Illegals under 30 will expand to Illegals under 60 to everyone under 90 who wants to come to America. Finally, those of us who deem constitutional government the only legitimate and lawful kind will become ungovernable, seditious and even rebellious, particularly when indulged by lesser sovereigns who see their own survival threatened by D.C. All in all, the Obama Rule is very bad juju for America precisely because it is so useful to her political classes.

  57. Becky Says:

    It is an interesting point that you are making and I think it is good advice to Romney.

    However, I do have a bone to pick, and I intend to pick it because I think it is an important one.

    You said, “Does it still make sense to prohibit employment and education opportunities to American residents who, through no fault of their own, came to the States as minors and have been raised as Americans?”

    IF (big if) our borders were sealed, I’d agree with you. But the fact that our borders are not sealed makes that a complex question, not a flippant one.

    The statement brushes past many unpleasant realities to arrive at its feel-good conclusion.

  58. David Jack Smith Says:

    “I would tell them to respond to this presidential move by listing the laws that he intends to ignore as soon as he becomes president.”

    Only if Obama does it first and lists ALL THE OTHER LAWS he intends to ignore. You first Mr President

    Of course, Mr Krumm is being highly disingenuous. He knows that when Obama “ignores” the law and runs an administration of lawlessnes, the massed ranks of the Presstitutes throw a yawn bigger than Katrina.

    Look at the Mau-Mauing of Bush when he LEGALLY and constitutionally removed previous administration lawyers from the Justice Department.

    If Romney tries something like Obama (or even something legal they don’t like) they will spend the time between then and the election trying to ensure he is NOT reelected.

  59. Sophia R Says:

    “While I happen to believe that the United States would be better off with greatly expanded legal immigration opportunities, even those conservatives of a more xenophobic persuasion should find plenty to like about Obama’s Friday announcement.”

    It’s not xenophobic to be opposed to illegal immigration, but support legal immigration. A true xenophobe would be opposed to ALL immigration.

  60. Mark Christian Says:

    I am guessing you did not grow up in a border town like I did? When it comes to education, teachers have to accommodate every child with the result being the total dumbing down of the education process as students who can barely if at all speak English slows down the process of actually teaching. Please don’t fool yourself as to the fact that teachers do not fail these students. Finally, it is not the Federal system that pays for our state public school education, but the state, therefore states like Texas and Arizona are now left with additional funding issues in education and health costs since on any given Monday morning ER rooms in hospitals are jammed with illegals needing basic health care.

  61. JS Says:

    And if one of your family members is killed by an illegal alien, how will you feel then, Mr. Krum?

    You seem to forget that these immigration laws are on the books for a reason. If you don’t like the law, then work to overturn it.

  62. TS Alfabet Says:

    It seems to me, however, that future Congresses could respond to this “passive-aggressive” presidency– a President who refuses to “faithfully execute the laws of these United States”– by passing laws that *prohibit* executive action rather than require positive action. To use the example of illegal immigrants, Congress could pass a law that authorized States to deport any illegals found within their borders and forbid the Federal government/Executive branch from taking any action whatsoever to stop the States from doing so by creating a carve-out exception to the U.S. immigration laws. In this example, Obama would have to violate the law passed in order to get his political benefit (and subject himself to possible impeachment).

    In this same way, Congress could pass all sorts of laws that forbid Executive Branch action. EPA? Congress passes a law that forbids it from exercising any jurisdiction or oversight over the coal, oil or natural gas industries.

    So it is a dangerous game that any President plays in this respect and could wind up with a war between Congress and Executive about how much a Congress can limit the powers of the Executive branch.

  63. Leigh Bjerregaard Says:

    I am tired of totalitarian tyranny with King Obama!Law is force (Bastiat) When we(citizens) don’t like one, we have to do the hard work of convincing our legislators to do the repeal process, or voting out those making these inane laws, and use the ammendment process for the constitution! Why does one man take upon himself this power with the stroke of a pen?I took the Constitution class, and there is separation of powers and Obama is going too far. We have a close friend trying to maintain immigration status and you would not believe what all she has to do to maintain legality over these 4 years!!!There is disgust when those came here illegally get awarded for their bad behavior!!! Hispanics who are playing by the rules and waiting in line are not happy with those who get to break in line, and are rewarded for criminal behavior!He is an opportunist trying to buy the young and hispanic vote!!! Don’t fall for it this time, people, wake up!!!!

  64. LizardLips Says:

    I suppose the question of Obama’s origin is no longer in question, even though his Harvard Law review stated his birth country as Kenya and not Hawaii, a small but significant fact not back-tracked by the administration or anyone else for that matter. This is a country of laws and the president(and he isn’t)has no more right to disregard the law in matters of immigration than I have to break the speeding limit on the way to the grocery store.

  65. Tom H Says:

    Can you explain to me what is the difference between this President and Hugo Chavez? A dictator is a dictator. The Constitution was written to make laws hard to pass through Congress. The “Do-nothing” Congress is working because laws that are not favorable to both sides don’t get passed. A really great concept.

  66. The New Obama Immigration Rule « Says:

    [...] Bob Krumm has a good column up about why conservatives should embrace this latest executive rule. Essentially because it puts executive power back into the hands of the president by precedent. [...]

  67. Mike Mahoney Says:

    I get the sense that your position boils down to, “Oh, goody! When there is a new Republican president he/she will now have a precedent to do the same.” Shove that!
    The Executive has the same recourse to adress any grievance he has with a law as anyone else; litigation. All other avenues that come to mind are not explicitly one of the enumerated powers. I have had my fill of precedent laden excuses. Relying on precedent has been the way to insidiously amend the constitution. Time to shove precedent this and precedent that down the sewer pipe where it belongs.

  68. politibear Says:

    “Go ahead, Boromir, take the ring and use it for good!”

    No, an unlimited-power, above-the-law presidency will not work. We may not have held our elected and appointed representatives to their responsibilities under the law before, but it is clear we must do so now and going forward because we are beginning to see the disastrous consequences.

  69. America’s First Anarchist President | The idea trend Says:

    [...] linked to an interesting perspective, “Why conservatives should applaud Obama’s decision to ignore the law.” The piece expresses the sentiment that “conservatives should applaud anything [that] [...]

  70. Rich White Says:

    Ok, I may not be the brightest bulb; however I have looked past the obvious reasons for usurping the laws as we the people created to protect our civil liberties and freedoms to see an underlining issue. It’s this issue I think that truly reflects the mindset of this president and also sheds a dim light on his healthcare reform. By his declaration he intends to “not enforce” the law to those under 30 that has graduated, going to collage or has served in the military. By definition he is saying for those illegals that were born in this county by no fault of their own but is of no use to society to hell with you. Now consider this frame of mind when an appointed medical panel is deciding your fate after say 60?

    I am sure by my use of grammar and typing skills when I say I didn’t graduate high school you won’t be surprised. I did however create a relatively secure financial standing and invest into my community and provide jobs. Fortunately, for me I am an American citizen. I gained what I have by doing the right thing, grit, hard work and determination. This I believe is the bases of the American dream. By ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away nor does ignoring the law. The only reason the president mentioned the restrictions was an attempt to somewhat mollify the jobless Americans by saying I only want to keep the good ones. Ether way he was wrong, he is ether a law breaker or a bigot… you decide.

    My position on the precedent our government leaders are setting, If you continue to tell someone yellow is actually blue after a while they start believing it, if we continue to look at what this president and those to follow are doing by selectively enforcing the law is just a way to get things done, then my friends we are on a very slipper slope.