As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Daily Archives: January 11, 2013, 6:07 pm

Is Obama Setting the Stage to Seize the Power of the Purse?

The White House may craftily be laying the groundwork for a massive and thoroughly unconstitutional seizure of power from Congress.

Republicans are threatening not to raise the debt ceiling limit unless President Obama agrees to significant cuts in spending. And so, a move is increasingly afoot to have Obama raise it himself. It’s hard to imagine that the growing clamor doesn’t have the approval of the White House. And it’s hard to imagine a more egregious abuse of power.

There are few Constitutional principles more clear than that Congress is in charge of allotting the nation’s cash.

Wikipedia puts the significance of this quite well:

The power of the purse plays a critical role in the relationship of the United States Congress and the President of the United States, and has been the main historic tool by which Congress can limit executive power.

It would be unseemly for the president to snatch this power from Congress, so we are being treated to what is possibly some carefully choreographed performance art in which Obama is portrayed as being dragged kicking and screaming into usurping Congress.

First, on Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded that Obama raise the debt limit unilaterally: “I would just go do it,” she said.

And now Friday afternoon, in a letter conveniently leaked to Politico, the entire Senate Democratic leadership, led by Harry Reid, told Obama that if Republicans don’t raise the spending limit, he should just go do it:

In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt limit extension only as part of an unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis — without congressional approval, if necessary.

Consider just how frightening this sounds: Mr President, do what you must, Congress be damned.

The rationale for this seizure of power is supposed to be the Fourteenth Amendment, which states:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

But as David Rivkin Jr. and Lee Casey note in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, failure to raise the debt ceiling doesn’t mean America’s creditors wont get their money. Those obligations remain and must be paid.

Rather, the result would be spending cuts needed to ensure that the Fourteenth Amendment isn’t violated. That’s what Democrats are really concerned about.

The White House is playing its part in this seeming masquerade, opining that the Fourteenth Amendment does not grant the president the power to raise the debt ceiling.

But this White House, with its well established penchant for executive action when confronted with the inconvenience of the Constitution’s balance of powers, will no doubt soon be noting the urgency of avoiding “default” and “financial collapse.”

And with Congressional Democrats offering cover, Obama may well raise the debt limit himself. If he does, he will unleash a Constitutional crisis – and a very grave one indeed that could be an awful augur of power grabs to come.

The Next Generation of Pro-Israel Leaders

Worried about the future of Israel? Me too.

If there are not leaders in this country who understand Israel and are devoted to preserving its existence and maintaining the strong ties between our two nations, then the most important bulwark against Islamism in the Middle East may cease to exist.

The Tikvah Fellowship is a non-profit, paid, one-year program for individuals to study full time about the political, religious, and intellectual future of Israel and the Jewish people.

It’s a tremendous opportunity to study and work with leading thinkers and practitioners in the fields of Jewish thought and history, Israeli and American politics, religious leadership, journalism, economics, education, and community life.

Faculty members include William Kristol, Victor Davis Hanson, James Capretta, Peter Berkowitz, Ruth Gavison, Yuval Levin, and Michael Walzer. Among the courses offered in the past are “Religion and State in Modern Democracy,” “War, Morality, and Statesmanship,” “Political Foundings,” and “Wealth and Modern Democracy.”

I thought some of you might be interested in applying for the fellowship or knew someone else who would. Anyone can apply, from students preparing for graduate school to those in mid-career thinking about their next step. You can find out more at


Obama Opposed Gun Ban Exception to Defend One’s Home

As a state senator in Illinois, President Obama opposed legislation providing an exception to handgun restrictions if the weapon was used in the defense of one’s home.

Obama’s vote would have maintained the status quo, which made it a violation of municipal gun ban law to use a firearm to save your own life in your own home. But the bill was passed anyway without his support.

The vote is a sign of how committed Obama may be to strict gun control measures.

The Illinois vote is hardly ancient history, having occurred in 2004 as Obama was running for election to the U.S. Senate. In opposing the measure, Obama lined up well to the left of the mainstream, as the Illinois Senate included 32 Democrats to 26 Republicans but approved the bill by an overwhelming margin and subsequently overrode a veto by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Obama did not participate in the veto override, which occurred in November 2004, likely after Obama had resigned his state Senate seat in order to prepare for his new role in the U.S. Senate.

The Illinois legislation was passed after a man who shot a burglar in his home was fined $750 by his town for disobeying its handgun ban. The absurdity and injustice of the situation doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on Obama.

Just eight years earlier, in 1996, Obama answered “Yes” to a survey question asking whether he would support state legislation to “ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” The Obama 2008 presidential campaign claimed the form had been filled out by an aide who mischaracterized Obama’s position, even though Obama’s handwriting was found on survey.

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Is the White House Considering Police in Schools?

According to the Washington Post, the answer is yes: The Obama administration is considering funding many more police officers in public schools to secure campuses, a leading Democratic senator said, part of a broad gun violence agenda that is likely to include a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips and universal background checks. The school safety initiative, one… Continue Reading