President Obama’s State of the Union speech contained a phrase I hadn’t heard before, and he repeated it maybe three or four times.
“With or without Congress,” he said.
That means he’s going to use whatever executive authority he has as the head of government to enact laws that have been stalled so far in Congress … such as raising the minimum for federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour.
Is it legal? Yes. However, I am now awaiting someone in either house of Congress to come up with a pretext that the president is overstepping his legal authority. Wait for it. It’ll come.
Indeed, some on the right have accused Obama of lawlessness already. They keep mentioning the “i-word,” meaning impeachment based notably on his use of executive authority.
It’s good to remember that the 44th president has issued fewer executive orders than his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, did at a similar point in his presidency. So, he’s not governing by executive fiat.
I’ll have to defer as well — and others might do the same — to the man’s knowledge of constitutional law, which he taught for a time after graduating from Harvard Law School. Oh yes, he also has a pretty good team of constitutional lawyers working in the White House and at the Justice Department who can advise him when he might be stepping over the line.
Barack Obama said again Tuesday night that he’s willing to work with the entire Congress on ways to move legislation forward. Bring those ideas up, debate them and then vote. Didn’t I hear him say that?
Didn’t he also say he’s willing to consider ways to improve the Affordable Care Act, or improve the health-care delivery system, or help even more Americans obtain health insurance? Didn’t he offer Congress a chance to play a constructive role in that effort?
However, if Congress isn’t willing to act on some of these issues, the president will use his authority — which he possesses within the confines of the Constitution — to act.
The next move now belongs to Congress.