Cabinet

Arrogant Obama asks cabinet members to come up with even more “creative” ways to get around the Constitution

President Barack Obama is doubling down on his use of executive power. He met with his cabinet yesterday and asked them to come up with “creative” ways to get around Congress to enact the administration’s agenda:

“You’ve already seen the power of some of our executive actions making a real difference for ordinary families,” Obama said at a White House meting. “We’re going to have to be creative about how we can make real progress.”

The president is increasingly relying on executive orders and regulatory moves to move his agenda, despite opposition from House Republicans, who have threatened to sue him over his executive actions, and the Supreme Court, which ruled last week that Obama’s recess appointments were unconstitutional.
[…]
He cast his actions as a response to voters who elected him in 2012.

“The people who sent us here, they just don’t feel as if anybody is fighting for them or working them,” he said. “We’re not always going to be able to get things through Congress … but we sure as heck can make sure that the folks back home know that we are pushing their agenda and that we’re working hard on their behalf.”

And there it is. That last point. President Obama seems to believe that he was the only person on the ballot in 2012 and, because he beat Mitt Romney, deserves anything and everything he wants. Nevermind that voters also elected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, thereby endorsing a divided government.

Fire Sebelius: Mitt Romney for HHS Secretary

Former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius was appointed by President Obama to be Secretary of Health and Human Services in 2009. After Obamacare’s passage in 2010, she had one job - to make its implementation smooth, and the timeline in the law gave her almost four years to do it.

Three weeks after the federal insurance exchanges opened, it is clear that she has failed miserably at that job. The calls for her resignation are mounting, and an upcoming appearance before a House committee will only accelerate the outrage. Most cabinet secretaries don’t make it through a president’s full two terms, whether because of stress, scandal, or a desire for new energy at those high profile positions.

So with Sebelius potentially on her way out, who should replace her? There is only one man for the job: Mitt Romney!

[pause for laughter]

Now now, hear me out! Think about it. Who else has the experience turning around failed national projects, reigning in out of control budgets, hiring the right people to clean up a wasteful operation, and right down to the details, implementing a health care reform plan with an insurance exchange and individual mandate?

House combats expensive regulations, passes REINS Act

In an effort to fight back against excessive regulations passed by cabinet-level agencies, the House of Representatives on Friday afternoon passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act by a 232 to 183 vote.

This measure would require congressional approval of rules and regulations that are expected to have an economic impact of more $100 million. These regulations adversely effect small businesses, have negative impact on job creation, and raise prices for consumers.

“For too long, Congress has allowed administrations of both parties to enact regulations at great costs to the American people with little oversight. The REINS Act would allow Congress to vote on new major rules before they are imposed on hardworking families, small businesses, and agriculture producers,” said Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), who sponsored the legislation. “Regardless of which party occupies the White House, this commonsense legislation is needed to restore the balance of power in Washington and return responsibility for the legislative process to Congress.”

Wayne Crew, vice president of policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), hailed passage of the REINS Act.

“This is a great day for American taxpayers,” said Crews in a release from CEI. “Between ObamaCare and President Obama’s pledge to remake American energy policy through the regulatory process, it’s more important than ever Congress exercise its constitutional authority to vote on these executive actions that impose significant costs on the public.”

LaHood’s Legacy

Written by Randal O’Toole, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Best known for admitting to the National Press Club that the Obama administration wants to “coerce people out of their cars,” Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has announced his plans to leave office as soon as a replacement can be found. Aside from an admirable emphasis on transportation safety, the main legacy he leaves behind is a record of wild spending on ridiculous projects that do little to improve transportation but do much to add to the nation’s debt.

Much of that spending came out of the 2009 stimulus bill. Prior to the stimulus bill, a Bush (II) administration rule required that most spending on transit projects meet certain measures of “cost effectiveness.” Streetcars, for example, had to be cost-effective relative to buses, which they never are, so no streetcar projects could be funded. The stimulus money was exempt from these rules, so LaHood immediately gave funds to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Tuscon for new streetcar lines. LaHood then announced that he was rescinding the Bush rule, an action that was formally completed on January 9 of this year.

Similarly, at the request of the Obama administration, the stimulus bill included $8 billion for so-called high-speed rail projects. But most of the projects funded are anything but high speed. Vermont, for example, spent $52 million speeding up a New York-to-Burlington train to an average of 38 miles per hour. Washington State is spending $590 million speeding up a Portland-to-Seattle train from an average of 53.4 to 56.1 miles per hour.

The main criteria for elibility for these funds was not whether a project was worthwhile but whether the environmental documentation had been written. Florida, for example, had written an environmental impact statement for high-speed rail that concluded that the environmental costs exceeded the benefits, but LaHood was happy to give the state $2.4 billion to build it anyway until the state had second thoughts.

As a result, cities and states all over the country are scrambling to write environmental impact statements for all sorts of inane projects so they will be ready the next time the floodgates of federal spending open. Reconnecting America, a pro-transit group, has cataloged more than 600 transit plans under way in more than 100 metro areas. These include 125 streetcar projects in at least 50 cities which may now be eligible for funding now that the Bush cost-effectiveness requirement has been eliminated.

Altogether, the nearly 500 projects for which costs have been estimated would require more than $250 billion in capital expenditures, which rail advocates lament mean that it would take more than 100 years of federal funding at the current rate to fund them all.

Cato Institute on Ron Paul’s “Plan to Restore America”

Over at Cato @ Liberty, Tad DeHaven offers some thoughts on Rep. Ron Paul’s recently released budget proposal, the “Plan to Restore America,” which would eliminate five cabinet-level departments and cut $1 trillion in spending:

Presidential candidate Ron Paul has released a fiscal reform plan that would dramatically cut spending and rein in the size and scope of the federal government. My reaction to the proposal can be summed up in one word: hallelujah.

Republican policymakers – including the current GOP field of presidential candidates – talk a good game about reducing spending, but very few are willing to spell out exactly what they’d cut. As NRO’s Kevin Williamson puts it in the title of his write-up on the plan, “Ron Paul Dropping a Reality Bomb on the GOP Field.”

The following are some of the plan’s highlights:

Ron Paul proposes sustainable budget plan

While most candidates are ignoring spending — the real problem with the budget, Ron Paul is taking this issue head on. Yesterday, Dr. Paul proposed $1 trillion in spending cuts as a part of a signficant budget and regulatory overhaul:

Ron Paul’s opinions about cutting the budget are well-known, but on Monday, he got specific: The Texas congressman laid out a budget blueprint for deep and far-reaching cuts to federal spending, including the elimination of five Cabinet-level departments and the drawdown of American troops fighting overseas.

There’s even a symbolic readjustment of the president’s salary to put it in line with the average American salary.

“Our debt is too big, our government is too big, and we have to recognize how serious the problem is,” Paul said during an afternoon speech in Las Vegas ahead of Tuesday’s GOP debate there.

The plan, Paul said, would cut $1 trillion in spending his first year in the White House and create a balanced federal budget by the third year of his presidency.

Paul isn’t just speaking in platitudes and slogans here. He’s serious about restoring fiscal sanity. This plan would eliminate five cabinet positions and their agencies (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education) and freeze spending for remaining executive agencies and departments at FY 2006 levels. It would repeal also ObamaCare and Sarbanes-Oxley, and allow young workers to opt-out of federal entitlement programs.

Herman Cain overplayed his hand

While his numbers have been rising after a straw poll win in Florida, Herman Cain may have overplayed his hand in his criticism of Rick Perry, who was the subject of a recent Washington Post story dealing with hunting ground with a racially insensitive name. Matt Lewis gives us a rundown of what happened:

After Sunday’s Washington Post reported that Texas Governor Rick Perry had utilized a Texas hunting camp named “N*****head,” GOP candidate Herman Cain (a former pizza exec. and the only black candidate running for the GOP presidential nomination) wasted little time in accusing Perry of being insensitive to racial issues.

“Since Gov. Perry has been going there for years to hunt,” Cain told ABC’s “This Week,” think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place.”

When anchor Christiane Amanpour pushed back — noting that the rock had actually been painted over — Cain doubled-down, saying: “But how long ago was it painted over? So I’m still saying that it is a sign of insensitivity.’’

(Cain made similar comments on Fox News Sunday — demonstrating that this was not a gaffe made in response to a question that simply caught him off guard.)

Lewis explains that Cain’s comments, essentially allowing himself to be used to by the media to further a misleading piece on Perry, may show that he isn’t ready for this latest round of press:

Herman Cain should read the Constitution

During his official announcement for the Republican nomination for president, Herman Cain said that we don’t need to re-write the Constitution, rather re-read it. I tend to agree, but he made an embarrassing gaffe on the Constitution, citing language that was actually from the Declaration of Independence. And recent comments he has made, including his contempt for the Fourth Amendment and basic civil liberties, leave one with the impression that Cain may need to do some reading of his own.

While appearing on Glen Beck’s show on Wednesday, Cain again expressed caution in appointing a Muslim to a position of power if he were president, noting that he would do so if they took a loyalty oath:

BECK: So wait a minute, are you saying that Muslims have to prove, there has to be a loyalty proof?

CAIN: Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.

BECK: Well, would you do that to a Catholic or a Mormon?

CAIN: No, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t because there is a greater dangerous part of the Muslim faith than there is in these other religions. I know there are some Muslims who talk about but we’re a peaceful religion. I’m sure that there are some peace-loving.

Cain once again demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the Constitution, which explicitly states in Article VI, Clause 3 that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Change They Couldn’t Believe In: Three Obama Cabinet Nominees Drop Out

Another of President Obama’s nominations has sunk like a rock:

ANOTHER day, another blow for Barack Obama’s hopes for a “new politics”. On Thursday February 12th, Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire announced that he had withdrawn as Mr Obama’s proposed secretary of commerce. Mr Gregg is a Republican—and one, to boot, who once voted for the Commerce Department to be abolished. Bringing him into the cabinet had been billed by the Obama team as an important sign of Mr Obama’s commitment to government from the centre. Mr Gregg would have been the third of Mr Obama’s “post-partisan” appointments: his transport secretary, Ray LaHood is a Republican, and his defence secretary, Robert Gates, served in the same job under George Bush (though he does not describe himself as a Republican).

Bill Helps Clear the Path for Hillary

Thanks to former President Bill Clinton, one of the obstacles facing Hillary’s appointment to Secretary of State has been removed.  Despite promises of anonymity to some of the contributors to the William J Clinton Foundation he started, Bill has agreed to disclose his list of donors.

wsj.com- He’ll also refuse donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Global Initiative, his annual charitable conference, and will cease holding CGI meetings overseas.


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