WSJ's Daniel Henninger: Obama Ridicules Separation of Powers

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 06:57 AM

By Elliot Jager

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President Barack Obama refuses to recognize that, as inconvenient as it may be, "political tension" is inherent to the American political system, writes Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.

The president finds both Washington politics and Congress wearisome, so he ridicules the separation of powers enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, Henninger wrote. He told an audience in Minneapolis that Congress didn't do anything but stand in his way.

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Henninger's commentary included a long quote from Obama from the White House website.

"And, now, some of you may have read — so we take these actions and then now Republicans are mad at me for taking these actions. They're not doing anything, and then they're mad that I'm doing something. I'm not sure which of the things I've done they find most offensive, but they've decided they're going to sue me for doing my job. I mean, I might have said in the heat of the moment during one of these debates, 'I want to raise the minimum wage, so sue me when I do'." (Laughter.) "But I didn't think they were going to take it literally."

He says Congress should pass the bills he wants, "Instead of trying to mess with me." Since it hasn't, his answer, following the lead of White House counselor John Podesta, is to make and implement policy without Congress, writes Henninger.

The president has said: "I've got a pen and I've got a phone."

Obama has taken more than 30 unilateral actions without congressional approval from the Affordable Care Act to the No Child Left Behind Act. Yet, writes Henninger, Article 1, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution is explicit: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

The president now scorns the prospect of a lawsuit by House Speaker John Boehner that would reclaim "Congress's role in the Constitution's separation of powers provisions," writes Henninger. And he does so in the face of the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down his view of the president's recess appointment powers.

"More than a few Americans watching parades pass by this weekend will recall that one man's whim as the way we make laws has no support in the U.S. Not now, not ever," Henninger wrote.

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