Ahead of the president’s State of the Union speech Tuesday, his top advisers told the Associated Press what he intends say. It sounds as though Barack Obama thinks of himself as an emperor or maybe Merlin the Magician. His advisers say Obama plans to work with Congress when he can and circumvent it “where he must,” according to the AP. He plans to “demand” expanded economic opportunity. And if Congress does not act, he will take “unilateral action to close the gap between rich and poor Americans.”
That’s an impressive plan for an emperor, and even more so for the chief executive of a republican government whose role it is to see to it that laws are faithfully carried out. You can look long and hard, but you won’t find anything in the Constitution charging the president with circumventing the Congress. Going against what Congress decides, or decides not to do, comes close to violating the president’s oath of office. Remember what Lincoln said about “of, by and for the people.” And In the House, members are elected for only two-year terms because that way, in theory at least, the assembly more closely reflects the opinions and wishes of the governed, the people.
As for closing the gap between the rich and poor, Obama has proved to be the wrong man for that particular job. It would take a magician. Or it would take a practical politician who understands how the economy works and acts accordingly.
Under Obama — heavy on mandates and regulations, along with printing money and showering subsidies on favored interests — Americans on food stamps have reached the highest proportion ever, about one in seven. And the percentage of the working-age population with a job has kept going down to under 59 percent.
The direction we’ve been going under Obama is the wrong way to go, but judging from the advance word on Tuesday’s speech, he hasn’t learned. Instead, he intends to keep heading the wrong way for the rest of his term. (hh)