I’ve written here several times before about the increasingly lawless shape that the Obama Administration has taken in recent years — whether it’s making recess appointments when Congress is still in session, exempting its friends from Obamacare, or trying to make the DREAM Act law via executive order, the reflexive contempt for the separation of powers is regularly apparent. Now, two more items on that front.
First, our friend John Yoo, writing alongside John Bolton at National Review, notes Obama’s decision to bypass Congress’s authority over international treaties in pursuit of a nuclear arms reduction deal with Russia:
The Constitution, however, still stands athwart Obama’s rush to a nuclear-free utopia. Article II, Section 2 declares that the president “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties,” but only if “two thirds of the Senators present concur.” President Obama’s last nuclear-reduction pact, the 2011 New START Treaty with Russia, cut the U.S. nuclear arsenal to dangerously low levels, 750 strategic delivery systems and 1,550 warheads. It passed the Senate by a vote of 71–26, but only after breaking a filibuster with 67 votes, not one to spare.
Uncertain it can persuade a dozen Republicans to err again, the administration is considering a Russian deal without Senate approval. According to his spokesman, Secretary of State Kerry told senators that they “would be consulted as we moved forward into discussions with the Russian Federation, but did not indicate that the administration had decided to codify any results in a treaty.” Unnamed administration officials say Washington and Moscow could engage in reciprocal weapons cuts without a written agreement.
Those unnamed Administration officials are right, of course. There’d be nothing to prevent the two countries from coincidentally reducing stockpiles at the same time. At that point, however, it’s not a treaty, it’s a handshake promise, which sort of defeats the whole purpose. Given that international law is basically fictive, however, even a real treaty wouldn’t be particularly enforceable (especially with the roguish Putin), so we need not lose too much sleep over this one.
Then, this tidbit from the Daily Caller:
President Barack Obama is looking to unilaterally impose a $5-per-year tax on all cellphone users to avoid asking a recalcitrant Congress for funding.
The Washington Post first reported the story Tuesday.
The Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency headed by three Obama appointees, would collect the tax, tacking on an additional charge to devices already subject to local, state and federal fees, along with sales taxes…
Deputy White House press secretary John Earnest denied that the move was an “end run” around Congress in a press briefing Wednesday, but added that Congress’s “dysfunctional” state could justify an executive override.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t seen a lot of action in Congress, so the president has advocated an administrative, unilateral action to get this done,” Ernest said.
In my column this week, I compared Obama to his progressive forebear, Woodrow Wilson. This only strengthens the case. Wilson, as you can read here, would have been an enthusiastic cheerleader for precisely this kind of executive chutzpah.