Business Daily | November 2, 1999
Checks And Balances
year, former White House aide Paul Begala made a chilling
statement. Referring to President Clinton's bypassing
Congress with executive orders, Begala gushed: ''Stroke of
the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool.''
Begala forgot that the legislature makes the law. The
president's job is to either concur with the laws passed by
Congress or reject them. It's up to the Supreme Court to
decide if the law fits within our system.
checks were built into the Constitution to prevent the
arbitrary creation of law through the stroke of a pen. It's
a basic lesson for elementary school students. Surely Begala
and the White House know that much. That's what makes
Clinton's fondness for dictating law so frightening.
has issued 304 executive orders. That's about average for
the last eight presidencies.
it's a question of intent, not quantity. Using executive
orders and proclamations, Clinton has:
contractors that do business with the federal government
from hiring replacements for striking workers (even though
Congress has repeatedly rejected adopting a law that would
achieve the same end).
large Western land tracts.
motion a program that could bring a host of rivers under
strict federal control.
the GOP took Congress in 1995, Clinton has threatened
several times to issue executive orders when lawmakers have
rejected bills he believes should have passed.
executive orders are appropriate. They are often necessary
to the day-to-day operations of the government. But when a
president uses orders to pursue a policy agenda that he
can't achieve through constitutional means, he's stepped
beyond his limits.
twice have the courts nullified an executive order. A Cato
Institute study tells us that out of more than 13,000
issued, Congress has modified or revoked an order only 239
presidents have been essentially free to make law. They've
been bound by only their conscience.
have had willing accomplices in Congress,'' explained Rep.
Ron Paul, R-Texas. ''A great number of congressmen and
senators quietly appreciate the assumed presidential
authority to create and enact legislation because it allows
them to see their goals accomplished without having to
assume political responsibility.''
has drafted a Separation of Powers Restoration Act. If the
bill were enacted, presidential executive orders - except
for military orders, pardons and those authorized by
Congress - would not have the force of law.
bill would also let every American challenge presidential
doesn't take a scholar to know that liberty is threatened
when the power to make law is vested in a single person.
That's the type of authority wielded by kings and dictators.
Our system - and a high degree of freedom - survives on
tension between the branches, not on the actions of a
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