Wednesday, July 04, 2007

American Presidential Power

July 3, 2007
Associated Press Writer

House Balks at Bush Order for New Powers

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush this month is giving an obscure White House office new powers over regulations affecting health, worker safety and the environment. Calling it a power grab, Democrats running Congress are intent on stopping him.

The House voted last week to prohibit the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from spending federal money on Executive Order signed by Bush last January and due to take effect July 24. The order requires federal officials to show that private companies, people or institutions failed to address a problem before agencies can write regulations to tackle it. It also gives political appointees greater authority over how the regulations are written.

The House measure "stops this president or any president from seizing the power to rewrite almost every law that Congress passes, laws that protect public health, the environment, safety, civil rights, privacy and on and on," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., its sponsor.

"OIRA has quietly grown into the most powerful regulatory agency in Washington," the House Science investigations subcommittee, chaired by Miller, said in a report in April. The administration contends Bush's order merely strengthens a similar directive issued by President Clinton in 1993 giving the White House budget office oversight of federal agency rulemaking.

Andrea Wuebker, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, which manages the White House regulatory affairs office, said the order, along with an OMB good guidance bulletin, "will help increase the quality, accountability and transparency of agency guidance documents."

Many feel that the checks and balances implicit in the matrix of our government are not balanced, and that the imbalance began in the early part of the 20th Century, mostly as pragmatic moves to get things done. Over time thus far, the swing has favored the Executive branch of government. Congress still has the power to set the balance straight, and restore the power of legislative governance. But it will take a unified, bi-partisan (what's that?) Congress some determined and steady footwork to achieve balance. The Congress would have to clean up their own act before they could even begin to act in concert.

And it is high time to take a hard, objective look at the judiciary role in creating new legislation by judicial fiat. The bench staffed by political appointees has done much harm to our nation by creating in toto, as it were, a two-faction piership who insist on re-interpreting and changing the US Constitution to reflect, not what the Constitution says, but how they view the world. They must be reined in.

The US Congress has become reduced to a bunch of squabbling hens. Perhaps if America put a one-term limit on members of both houses of congress, most of this conflict of interest, pork-barrel protectionism, and pandering to the lobbyists would die a natural death.

In other news:

Leahy: Subpoena fight may go to court

By Hope Yen
Associated Press
Published July 2, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Sunday that he was ready to go to court if the White House resists congressional subpoenas for information on the firings of federal prosecutors.

"If they don't cooperate, yes I'd go that far," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on whether he would seek congressional contempt citations if President Bush didn't comply. That move would push the matter to court.

"They've chosen confrontation rather than compromise or cooperation," Leahy said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. "The bottom line on this U.S. attorneys investigation is that we have people manipulating law enforcement."

At issue is whether the White House exerted undue political influence in the Justice Department's firings of prosecutors.

Presidential Power at 60-Year-High
By Melinda Wenner

Presidential power is spiraling out of control, making George W. Bush the most powerful American leader since at least WWII, according to a new analysis. But the current president, now entangled in a controversy over his recent decision to assert Executive Privilege, can’t take full credit for the power grab, the researchers argue. A number of factors have converged over the past 60 years to turn the American presidency into a position of incredible influence that has a negative effect on American politics and which won't change just because someone else takes charge of the White House.

In their new book "Presidential Power: Unchecked and Unbalanced" (W. W. Norton, 2007), Johns Hopkins University political scientists Benjamin Ginsberg and Matthew Crenson trace the history of the presidency since the middle of last century, uncovering a series of murder mystery-like motives, means and opportunities that have shaped the executive branch into the most powerful institution on the globe.

Ginsberg and Crenson are not the only researchers to spot the radical change. “The presidency has grown in size and in power throughout the 20th century,” agreed Christopher S. Kelley, a political scientist at Miami University in Ohio.

Power grab

In a telephone interview last week, Crenson explained how American politicians today are driven by different desires than they were in the past.

“We have these people with enormously grandiose ambitions, who don’t just want to be president—they want to change history,” Crenson said. Politicians used to be propelled into the presidency by their parties; now they are self-propelled, he said.

This change was accompanied by a general decline in public political participation, said the authors. People’s dwindling interest in politics—and in congressional activities in particular—has allowed presidents to capitalize on unique opportunities.

“When popular participation diminishes, congressional influence goes down, and one of the obstacles for presidential power is significantly reduced,” Crenson said. “You can see over the course of the 20th century, presidents have either grabbed or invented one instrument of power after another.”

Watergate effect

According to Kelley, however, by far the biggest instigator last century was Watergate. After the scandal, Congress reacted by constraining presidential power, all the while still expecting the president to lead.

“If any president wanted to be successful, and to bequeath an office stronger than he found it, he would need to develop unique arguments, theories, devices, etcetera, that would enable success,” Kelley told LiveScience. “Hence presidential unilateralism [and] working through the executive branch agencies to accomplish what he couldn't with the Congress.”

Watergate also prompted the Supreme Court to first recognize the power of Executive Privilege, which allows the executive branch to resist certain legislative and judicial interventions. President Bush asserted the privilege last week to keep the White House and several of his former aides from supplying subpoenaed documents to Congress in an investigation related to the replacement of federal prosecutors.

...While many might think the relatively unchecked power in today's White House is largely due to how President Bush operates, the authors, who support different political parties, see the shift as more of an institutional—and constitutional—issue. “People need to realize that this is not a problem that’s going to be solved by electing somebody other than George W. Bush,” Crenson said. “This is a serious constitutional problem—constitutional in both senses of the word—that is going to take some very careful thought to remedy.”

The best way to for the public to change the balance of power is to support Congress in its efforts to make substantive policy, Crenson said. Since the legislature has two parties, compared to the president’s one, it is likely to make better decisions, he contends. (Read the whole article)
Special to LiveScience
July 2, 2007


What kind of unifying force would it take to restore sanity in government and the integrity of the US Constitution? My guess would be that it would take a cataclysmic event on the order of a huge meteor hitting the earth, a war of unimaginable proportions, or the voice of reason to suddenly take hold in all branches of government.

If I were a betting man, I would have to go with one of the first two options.

And finally: Mr. Bush, as long as you have the presidential pardon pen out, why not do the right thing and grant a FULL PARDON to Mr. Ramos and Mr. Campean? They were only doing their job protecting our border, before they fell victim to your biased prosecutor. At the very least commute their sentences so their families can begin over again.

Just pick up the phone, and do it. You know you'll sleep a lot better.

What's that? You're afraid of backlash from the Hispanic community? What can they do to you, Mr. President? You're the most powerful man on the planet. Right?

Trackposted to Hot Air
Outside the Beltway, Webloggin, Perri Nelson's Website, The Amboy Times, The Bullwinkle Blog, Wake Up America, DeMediacratic Nation, High Desert Wanderer, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.