“No taxation without representation,” is a slogan that has been rather important in American history. Thus this report, if true, is absolutely mindboggling:
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed Monday that President Obama is "very interested" in the idea of raising taxes through unitlateral executive action.
"The president certainly has not indicated any reticence in using his executive authority to try and advance an agenda that benefits middle class Americans," Earnest said in response to a question about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) calling on Obama to raise more than $100 billion in taxes through IRS executive action.
"Now I don't want to leave you with the impression that there is some imminent announcement, there is not, at least that I know of," Earnest continued. "But the president has asked his team to examine the array of executive authorities that are available to him to try to make progress on his goals. So I am not in a position to talk in any detail at this point, but the president is very interested in this avenue generally," Earnest finished.
Sanders sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Friday identifying a number of executive actions he believes the IRS could take, without any input from Congress, that would close loopholes currently used by corporations. In the past, IRS lawyers have been hesitant to use executive actions to raise significant amounts of revenue, but that same calculation has change[d] in other federal agencies since Obama became president.
Obama's preferred option would be for Congress to pass a corporate tax hike that would fund liberal infrastructure projects like mass transit. But if Congress fails to do as Obama wishes, just as Congress has failed to pass the immigration reforms that Obama prefers, Obama could take actions unilaterally instead. This past November, for example, Obama gave work permits, Social Security Numbers, and drivers licenses to approximately 4 million illegal immigrants.
I don’t mean to sound doubtful of the reporter on this; my initial skepticism is based more on the fact that I am surprised that even President Obama, whose respect for the niceties of constitutional government apparently is not as high as that of previous chief executives, would consider such a move. You've got to love it that the president's preferred option is to go through Congress, but that, if it fails to do his bidding, he will take power not his by law into his own hands.
We have watched President Obama do things that traditionally were not his to do: unilaterally rewriting the ObamaCare law, amnesty without congressional action, and now apparently this. What is most troubling is that those who stand for the rule of law so far have been unable to stop the president's power grabs. Witness the current debacle in Congress over the attempt to stop illegal amnesty!
A federal judge has ruled that the president's unilateral amnesty is unconstitutional. However, at this point, it is not entirely clear whether the Obama administration intends to be bound by the federal judge’s stay on the president’s amnesty orders. Nothing seems to stop President Obama from doing what he wants to do, and it will be interesting to see if a federal judge's stay can delay a move that would profoundly change our country. There are arguments for and against amnesty–but there are no legitimate arguments for President Obama deciding this on his own.
For a republic to continue to be a republic, the elected leader must keep faith with the Constitution and have an appreciation of the limits of his (or her) power. The Obama presidency is not the first in which there has been executive overreach. But previous executives kept faith with our system of government and, if rebuked for a power grab, backed down. Franklin D. Roosevelt, for example, didn’t go right ahead and pack the Supreme Court without a congressional vote.
We may take hope from President Obama’s having only two years left in which to turn the presidency of the United States into an elective monarchy, but we are by no means assured that the next holder of that office will want to turn back to our old constitutional form of government.