Previous post:

Next post:

Obama Uses Autopen to Sign Fiscal Cliff Bill

by Keith Koffler on January 3, 2013, 9:36 am

President Obama used his autopen late Wednesday to sign the Fiscal Cliff bill, a move that will raise questions in the minds of some about whether the legislation and the massive tax increases included in it have actually become law.

autopenObama was forced to use the autopen – by which a machine puts his signature to the document – because he fled Washington for Hawaii immediately after the House passed the legislation Tuesday night, even though he had not yet received the bill.

Since the law was designed to prevent Fiscal Cliff measures that were beginning to take effect, it was urgent that Obama sign it, and so he used to autopen rather to receive the actual bill in Hawaii.

Obama ordered the autopen into action after reviewing a copy of the bill, according to the White House

The Constitution states that the president must review and sign legislation if he wants it to become law. From Article I, Secton 7:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approves he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.

A legal opinion written by the Justice Department under George W. Bush states that use of the autopen would have been fine with the Framers.

Neither the constitutional text nor the drafting and ratification debates provide further guidance regarding what it means for the President to “sign” a bill he approves . . .

However, the word “sign” had a generally understood legal meaning  that was well established at common law when the Constitution was drafted and ratified and that  continued throughout the Republic’s early years (and beyond). Under this well-settled legal  understanding, an individual could sign a document by directing that his signature be affixed to it  by another.

Obama first used the autopen to sign an extension of provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.

{ 36 comments }

RickW January 3, 2013 at 9:51 am

I’m all for technology but this is yet another example of his governing by remote control. Instead of handing out pens to people at a bill signing does he plan to hand out flash drives? Memory cards?

Lets hope the Chief Justice words the inauguration as follows: “Do you, Barack Obama, your teleprompter and AutoPen solemnly swear…..”

cincycinco January 3, 2013 at 9:59 am

Between the autopen and the TelePrompTer, what do we need Obama for?

I’m sure we have enough recorded snarkiness at this point that ValJar could just do video mashups, leaving Obama to sun and fun on Hawaii indefininetly!

Girly1 January 3, 2013 at 11:38 am

Your question is a real head-scratcher, cincycinco. After 4 years I’m asking the same question the MOOCH asked him on his first day in the Oval….”What are YOU doin’ in here?” No joke!

Honestly, I would rather have the ‘McConnell Whisperer’, crazy Joe, in the Oval. The only reason Obama chose him was to do the heavy lifting and bridge the gap that Obama couldn’t fill. Joe is extremely well liked by his peers on both sides of the aisle….something Obama will never achieve. Obama has all his ducks in a row so that he never has to lift a finger. It really is appalling!

DeniseVB January 3, 2013 at 10:04 am

Then why did he even have to return to DC at the added expense of $3 million? It was all unnecessary !

And I clearly remember Jay Carney explaining that Obama can be President 24/7 from any part of the worrrrrld because of Air Force One. Or was that just for the campaign trail?

Star January 3, 2013 at 10:31 am

Oh–he had to come back to pooch out his lower lip and scold people and try to lay down the law about what he would or would not do or stand–like that settled anything.

Michael January 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I’ve seen news accounts that said he went back to Washington to “monitor” debate on the cliff.

It’s sort of like when he stopped playing golf during the campaign. It was all for appearances. As if most folks haven’t figured out the real Obama yet.

John Sununu had it right when he called Obama “lazy”.

Susan January 3, 2013 at 10:11 am

Since when does he give a flip about the constitutionality of his actions. He’s “forced to use” an autopen to sign legislation because it interferes with his vacation travels, but he had to bill the taxpayer an extra $3 million to travel back to D.C. to shake down Blubbering Boehner and Mitch the Cowardly Lion? Good thing none of his sycophants will raise an eyebrow about his obvious duplicity…

Star January 3, 2013 at 10:33 am

Boehner told Harry to have congress with himself–he’s all right my my book!

Susan January 3, 2013 at 10:40 am

In my opinion, that was just part of the kabuki theater for the little people.

Star January 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

We differ, Susan. I don’t get the Japanese part of that phrase–am I missing something. Isn’t this just theater, all posturing?

Susan January 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

I agree, we differ. Kabuki theater = song and dance usually performed by prostitutes.

srdem65 January 3, 2013 at 10:12 am

There is something so disturbing about the POTUS rushing off to a vacation spot when one more day in DC was required to legally sign a bill he so greatly admired.

His public distain for the everyday work and responsiblity of the high office he holds is apparent to everyone.

Star January 3, 2013 at 10:34 am

Don’t forget his disdain for all of us, who are taking up his valuable time with our fears and longing for a good life.

Star January 3, 2013 at 10:30 am

I think there is a legally recognized email signature thingie. Isn’t this sort of small ball?

Lizzy January 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

Well at least the autopen doesn’t have a smirk.

Sadie January 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm

LIKE!

Julie Brueckheimer January 3, 2013 at 11:33 am

OT, but I saw the photos of Hillary leaving the hospital in the company of Bill and Chelsea. I was just wondering where the son-in-law is. You never see him as part of the family in situations where everyone is supposed rally around. In fact, I never see him at all.

Girly1 January 3, 2013 at 11:48 am

That marriage is real mystery, Julie. Shortly after the wedding I read that he took a job as a ski instructor in Colorado or somewhere. IIRC, he gave up his job as an ‘investment banker’ before they married. Must have been a conflict of interest since he was with Goldman Sachs. Anyway, Chelsea opted to stay in NYC and pursue her ‘career’. I have never seen them together…ever. It’s bizarre.

Also noticed that hubby Bill was holding up the rear when they left the hospital. Chelsea was the one at Hillary’s side. Another sham marriage. Just hope Hillary retires – that family is so mucked up. We have enough problems in this country without taking the Clintons on again.

Langley Spook January 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Odds that Hilliary had some “work” done while in the hospital? (Botox, etc. ?)

Julie Brueckheimer January 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I was wondering about the dark glasses.

Girly1 January 3, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Judging from the photo on Drudge, I would say no. She doesn’t look well….

cincycinco January 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm

“She doesn’t look well….” – Girly1

Not that she ever does, but it may be on purpose THIS time. After all, would even a heartless Republican DARE ask a sick woman about, I don’t know, maybe BENGHAZI?

Langley Spook January 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I bet Sec. State Hilliary will be “sick” and “unable to talk” until sometime after the Inauguration.
By that time it will be too late to ask her about Benghazi…

Then she can go into hiding (re: campaign) until 2016 and no one will rember or care about Benghazi.

Michael January 3, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Your last sentence is absolutely true. But somehow, every time one thinks that we are finally rid of the Clintons, they keep resurfacing.

I fear that this will happen once again despite Hillary’s “protests” to the contrary.

cincycinco January 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm

“Bill was holding up the rear …” – Girly1

Whose? It’s NEVER been Hillary’s!

Except for that time when they both got REAL stoned, about nino months before Chelsea was born…

GS January 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

I think you need to edit something in this sentence — it reads like there is something’s incorrect or missing:
“and so he used to autopen rather to receive the actual bill in Hawaii.”

cincycinco January 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Why would Obama receive a bill? Obama doesn’t pay bills, that’s for the REST of us!

Oh, you mean the other kind…

DeniseVB January 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm

The Obamas had problems paying bills long before he was President…….from 2009….

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/president-obama-troubling-mantra-debt-trust-article-1.408119

cincycinco January 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm

From that article;

‘But in 2005, Obama’s book sales soared and the royalties poured in. Michelle explained, “It was like Jack and his magic beans.”‘

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/president-obama-troubling-mantra-debt-trust-article-1.408119#ixzz2GwbiaMHq

Moochie got her a reload on “magic beans” last year, courtesy of an (at best) supine press, legions of takers, racially biased constituents, and some very questionable “voting” results. Why worry about the peasants? THIS magic will last as long as the Country does.

I’d say her message would be “Let them eat cake!”, but for the fact her and Hubby ran Hostess out of business. Well, maybe she thinks we can live on the aroma of her “bean” farts – and she expects us to be grateful she lets us have THAT much, considering what racist haters we are and the fact Hubby has sworn REVENGE and all…

JP January 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Why would anyone be surprised that Obama, the Dictator, does what he wants. He defiles the Constitution and the rule of law every chance he gets. I loathe him.

Gunner Stanson January 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

I’ve been hearing my GOP friends say the “dictator” word for some time now. If he truly were, he’d already had Boehner, Cantor and McConnell shot at sunrise.

Rod January 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I have one of these at home – to sign all my checks to Uncle Sam. That dude is a freaking deadbeat…

gobnait January 3, 2013 at 11:45 pm

He said ‘much remains to be done’ but couldn’t stick around to do it.

Gunner Stanson January 4, 2013 at 11:25 am

Funny that you guys never said a word when GWB was circumventing the constitution by issuing “signing statements.” Hypocrites.

Gunner Stanson January 4, 2013 at 11:29 am

You guys are such hypocrites. You claim to be the party of “family values” then want to chastise a man for “rushing off” to be with his family. Admit it, this president is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

Dennis in Peoria January 4, 2013 at 5:35 pm

….And they would have still criticized the President if he had never left Hawaii to go back to Washington and try to get the fiscal cliff bill finished. I am going to do some research on exactly what the taxpayers are liable for when it comes to First Family vacations. My opinion is that staff, (because how often is a President “truly on vacation”?), use of AF 1, Secret Service, gets paid for by U.S.
Anything else, comes out of the Obama’s pocket. We know they had money before he was first elected. You can’t afford these trips on a $400,000 annual salary.
It’s been that way for all Presidents. How much did it cost to feed, house staff in Texas at GWB’s ranch for the whole month of August every year when he took vacation? Oops, I forgot, Tea Drinkers and conservatives memories of previous Presidents ended on January 20th, 2009.