Skip to comments.Patrick J. Buchanan: Why Congress is held in contempt
Posted on 01/24/2014 5:15:48 AM PST by Colonel Kangaroo
"I've got a pen," said President Obama recently.
"I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions ... that move the ball forward."
"When I can act on my own without Congress, I'm going to do so," the President added later at North Carolina State.
Thus did Obama signal that he will bypass Congress and use his executive powers to advance his agenda of national transformation.
This dismissal of Congress has gone almost unprotested. In an earlier age it might have evoked talk of impeachment. But not now. For though Congress may be the first branch of government in the Constitution, with the longest list of enumerated powers in Article 1, its eclipse has been extraordinary.
Congressional powers have eroded or been surrendered. Congress boasts a 13 percent approval, a surge from its all-time low of 9 percent last fall before the budget deal.
While ex-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed disappointment in Obama and Hillary Clinton in his book "Duty," and was dismissive of Joe Biden, his view of Congress dripped with venom: "Uncivil, incompetent in fulfilling basic constitutional responsibilities (such as timely appropriations), micromanagerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned, often putting self (and reelection) before country this was my view of the majority of the United States Congress."
At Congressional hearings, Gates says he was "exceptionally offended by the constant, adversarial, inquisition-like treatment," and lines of inquiry that were "rude, insulting, belittling, bullying, and all too often personal."
Admirers of Obama, Hillary and Biden have all come forward to defend them. Where are the defenders of Congress from this searing indictment by Gates? Almost nowhere.
What happened to Congress? Not so long ago, school children were taught more about Sens. Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster than many of the Presidents of that pre-Civil War era.
High among the causes of Congress' decline has surely been the loss or surrender of its constitutional powers to Presidents, the Supreme Court and a federal bureaucracy Congress itself created. Consider this. Under Article 1, Congress is entrusted with the power to "regulate commerce with foreign nations." With the exception of slavery, there was not a more divisive issue before the Civil War than the tariff question. In the Jacksonian era, South Carolina almost seceded over the tariff, and Andrew Jackson threatened an invasion.
Today, Congress first surrendered to the executive the authority to negotiate trade deals, and then passed fast track, denying itself the right to amend those treaties. Congress has restricted itself to a yes or no vote on what the executive negotiates.
The transnational corporations that finance campaigns are delighted.
Congress was granted the power to "coin money" and "regulate the value thereof." But in 1913, Congress transferred that power to the Federal Reserve. With the Fed as its steward, the dollar's purchasing power had fallen to that of a couple of pennies in 1913. And the Fed was responsible for the stock market bubble that bought on the Great Crash of 1929 and Great Depression, and the real estate and stock market bubbles that brought on our own Great Recession.
Yet, the Fed is untouchable.
Though Congress was granted exclusive power "to declare war," our last declared war was in 1941.
Obama today draws "red lines" and tells nations not to cross them or we bomb, and announces to the world that, in dealing with Iran, "all options are on the table," meaning war.
While Congress was granted the power in the Constitution to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, that court has been on an ideological tear, remaking America without a nod to Congress. Congress often complained, but almost always did nothing.
Sundered by party and ideology, with 535 members, and rules and regulations that inhibit decisions and impede action, Congress appears a 19th-century anachronism at sea in a 21st-century world. Who looks to Congress today as the bulwark of our liberties?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"
Darn good writing by Mr. Buchanan.
The congressmen are there to collect the perks; they would like policy matters off the table themselves.
They voted themselves a raise despite public disappointment with them.
They were all so unbelievably brave when they donated 5% of their pay to demonstrate solidarity with the shutdown.Even more courageous was when they all chose to participate in ObamaCare® as well.
Our last declared war was in 1942. Pat, you should be ashamed of yourself for not knowing that.
Congressional defenders do not exist because the actions (including the inability to act) of this group of people, are in all ways indefensible!
Any one who would attempt to defend the current Congress would be laughed out of the room.
The howling lies, abject incompetence, self-serving greed, gratuitous discourtesy and summary lack of respect for the American people qualifies them for NO esteem whatsoever and IS ‘indefinable’.
Separation of powers has given way to a circle jerk of socialism/totalitarianism. DEFUND socialist collectives, foreign and domestic. DISMANTLE domestic socialist constructs.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
List of grievances BUMP!
You sir, insult drunken sailors everywhere, on their behalf I request that you rephrase your post.
Pat, you forgot; many of our congresscritters did dumb stuff, and it is recorded digitally, and 0bvummer’s folks have it, just like Roberts...so, he makes them do whatever he wants.
"Obozo could not spend money like Barney Frank in a pay-as-you-go Turkish bath if Boehner did not allow him to.
Thank you, that’s much better, I came this close to hitting the abuse button, I tell you.
For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind--- Hosea 8:7a KJV
When was the last time Congress produced some positive legislation -- something that improved the lot of most Americans?
Would that be the Bush tax cuts, in 2001?
More often than not, legislation benefits only a small sliver of the population -- e.g., the ethanol mandates.
Who looks to Congress today as the bulwark of our liberties?
The American people, but it is not the last bulwark.
That we reserve to ourselves.
Why do you think the whole NSA thing is fully out in the open??? They’re just letting all those philandering congresscritters know their secrets will be revealed, unless they toe the line. Boehner, McConnell, etc., obviously have a lot of skeletons. Most of them are obviously slimy. I honestly think this is blackmail on an unheard of scale. If they were decent men and women, of course, there would be no skeletons they could threaten them with.
Cruz apparently doesn’t have any such skeletons. That’s why he’s a lonely voice of reason.