Sameer is a senior from Bowling Green, KY double majoring in Neuroscience and Political Science. He is involved in RUF and has recently started a new organization on campus, Timmy Global Health, where he serves as the Vice President. A lifelong Vanderbilt fan, he also serves as a committee member for both VPB Vandy Fanatics and Senior Class Fund. Though he has spent most of his summers volunteering at local hospitals, Sameer spent the summers of 2013 and 2014 as an intern for US Senator Rand Paul. While maintaining a high level interest in many arenas of politics, Sameer is most interested in healthcare policy and immigration policy with a growing interest in foreign policy
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the law has been changed 35 times and delayed 29 times. Obamacare serves as the President’s crown jewel, and his willingness to change the law by circumventing Congress reflects that notion. In addition to the President’s changes to the health care law, the President has taken executive action in environmental law, immigration law, and other critical areas. Though the President authorized fewer executive orders in his first term than any other President since Grover Cleveland, the means by which he has taken action and the causes for this action prove to be extremely troubling.
In full campaign mode leading up to the 2012 election, President Obama showed few signs to the American people that he was willing to operate within the separation of powers of our government. “What I’m not going to do is wait for Congress,” proclaimed the President in a 2011 interview with 60 Minutes. Despite this alarming insight into a then potential second term, the electorate granted President Obama an extra four years to circumvent Congress. A little over a year into his second term, the President has followed through on his plan to not wait for Congress.
As mentioned, President Obama has actually been fairly reserved in his application of executive orders when examining solely the frequency of such actions. The circumstances underlying his executive orders provide the cause for concern. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales outlines the proper uses for executive action. He notes that a President can authorize executive action as long as it is consistent with the will of Congress. Changing a law 35 times that was passed by Congress hardly seems consistent with its intent. Rather, the repeated insistence of the executive branch to amend the health care law shows nothing more than a vast overreach of power.
Even strong Obama supporters have taken notice of the President’s unconstitutional actions. George Washington Law School professor and two-time Obama voter Jonathan Turley voiced his concerns over the President’s actions. He expressed that the President repeatedly violated the separation of powers. He goes on to claim that balance must be reestablished. By overstepping its boundaries, the White House has brought the nation to its “constitutional tipping point.”
If the balance of power needs to be reestablished—as Turley asserts—then one must assume an existing disequilibrium between the three branches of government. An argument can be made that the Presidency has wielded more power recently than was ever intended. In an exclusive interview with VPR, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) contends that, “for a hundred years, more and more power is being taken away from Congress and gravitating towards the President.” The numbers back up Senator Paul’s claim, but, again, the numbers are not the issue. The concern is that many of these executive orders have not been consistent with the intent of Congress, particularly in the Obama administration and even more specifically with Obamacare.
In 2008, President Obama campaigned for change. Before his second campaign, he declared that he would bypass Congress—a far cry from the change he was calling for—in an office has been abusing more power with each passing decade. Now that the President’s claims have come to fruition, the change is starting to take form. The change is that instead of halfheartedly trusting the President, the American people trust the President with even less confidence. The change is in President Obama’s downward-trending approval ratings. The change is in the United States’ ranking in the Index of Economic Freedom.
Perhaps the President should have heeded the advice of his best friend, Kanye West, who once sang, “no one man should have all that power.” If not that, then he should have at least assumed office with the intention of fulfilling the duties laid out for him by our Founding Fathers. Instead, President Obama’s intentions were and are to circumvent Congress when it benefits him to do so. The Presidency was never meant to have a louder voice than another branch of government. The equal footing of the three branches of government fostered liberty for centuries and acted as the foundation for America’s success. As long as the Presidency sees itself to be above the law of the constitution, America will head in the opposite direction of freedom.
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