02 September 2016

Executive Orders and The Memory Hole

From the Bush Administration Archive:

As President, my first executive order was to establish the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the White House. (Applause.) And my next one led to the creation of Faith-Based and Community offices at 11 federal agencies. These offices were tasked with this new mission: to lower the legal and institutional barriers that prevented government and faith-based groups from working as partners -- and to ensure that the armies of compassion played a central role in our campaign to make America more promising and more just.

The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) was initiated by executive order in January 2001.  The implications cannot be overstated. This represented a titanic shift in government doctrine and expenditure... all accomplished by the stroke of a pen.

From the Americans United link:

In a series of speeches, Bush asserted that faith-based groups are more effective and cost less than their secular counterparts. Although the president offered no objective data to support these claims, he and other administration officials repeated them over and over.

But skepticism remained. Congress refused to adopt the Bush plan. Undaunted, Bush issued executive orders and regulatory changes carrying out much of his agenda without congressional approval.

Now imagine for a moment if Obama issued an order that led to billions of dollars flowing into groups like the Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter, CAIR or GLAD? What if it was done under the auspices of aiding their social projects? What if the argument was made that their bureaucracies or potential bureaucracies (if funded) could effectively solve social problems and meet needs more effectively than the government? What would the response be?

Does the analogy break down because these (with the exception of CAIR) are not officially 'religious' organisations?

I guarantee that in every case you can find religious affiliated organisations which act in partnership. What about them? What if they took over the mantle?

Obama has undoubtedly utilised Executive Orders as has virtually every president for generations. They use them for a variety of reasons, sometimes to get things done when Congress won't cooperate. In other instances it is understood that execution, application and regulation of legislation is accomplished at the discretion of the Executive. These orders are understood to be subordinate or delegated powers operating within (but subordinate to) congressional legislation.

Often it functions as a workaround if not a power-grab.

It's the same with Signing Statements which have been heavily promoted and utilised by Republican presidents. These also undermine the original intent of the Founders with regard to separation of powers and undercut the legislative powers and specificity granted to Congress. Where's the protest?

These issues tie in with the fundamental transformation of the presidency which began in earnest in the wake of World War II. The Unitary Executive is the imperial presidency. The Unitary position was ascendant until Watergate. The subsequent struggle endured for approximately 25 years but ended on 9/11 with the Unitary Executive coming out on top.

Is Obama a deceitful and dishonest schemer? Of course! You don't get to be president otherwise. But I cannot stand the hypocrisy that emanates from Right-wing circles on issues like this. If you want to critique Executive Orders, then by all means, do so.... but in truth not with a partisan agenda. That's as revolting as the Constitutional duplicity that led to all of this in the first place.

The Conservative critique of Executive Orders is not based on principle. It's simply politics.

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