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Obama and executive overreach

“The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all,” Barack Obama told a town hall audience in 2008, when he was running for president.

The personable young senator’s background as a law school professor teaching about the Constitution no doubt reassured some voters he would not be like Bush in regard to separation of powers.

Well, he hasn’t. He’s been much worse.

Here are just a few of the actions President Obama has taken unilaterally:

* After the U.S. Senate made it clear in bipartisan fashion it would not back his war on coal by approving the infamous “cap and trade” plan, Obama proceeded on his own. Tens of thousands of people who depend on mining have lost their jobs. Electric rates already are going up for some Americans deprived by Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency of affordable power from coal-fueled generating stations.

* Obama used the State Department to block the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, even after other agencies confirmed they could find nothing wrong with the plan from an environmental standpoint.

* Again after Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, made it clear they did not want the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center closed, Obama went ahead on his own. The center may be empty, with terrorists from it spread far and wide, by the time Obama leaves office.

* When his Obamacare takeover of health insurance began failing badly, the president stepped in to break the very law he demanded Congress enact. He granted exemptions to special interest groups. He also is funneling billions of dollars to private insurance companies in violation of the law.

* Obama’s Department of Education has ordered that public schools throughout the country allow students to use restrooms meant for whichever gender they “identify” with, regardless of whether they are biologically male or female.

The list goes on and on. By one count, Obama issued more unilateral directives during his first 100 days in office than any president since Franklin Roosevelt. He meant it when he talked of relying on his pen and his phone to force the government to act.

He understands well that a formal executive order need not be used to force Americans to do his bidding. He can utilize proclamations, national security directives and other official actions.

But some of the most insidious orders haven’t even been orders. By appointing like-minded people to key posts, Obama has only to sit back, watch them impose his will upon others, and not veto what the agencies do.

Look back at the preceding list of Obama’s unilateral actions. Whether you agree with them or not, ask yourself this: Should any individual have the power to take such actions?

The nation’s founders thought not. That’s why they established three branches of government to act as checks and balances on each other.

At least we’ll be rid of one of the most imperial presidents in history soon. Or will we?

Hillary Clinton has made it clear she intends to follow in Obama’s footsteps — or worse. She wants to accelerate his campaign against fossil fuels, with big new taxes on them, for example.

Clinton understands two things about checks and balances:

First, as long as she has a compliant Supreme Court, she can get away with pretty much anything. If she is elected, it is probable, in view of the sitting justices’ ages, she will be able to appoint new ones to rubber stamp her actions.

Second, the balance of power in the Senate includes just enough Democrats that she can block any attempt by lawmakers to restore the normal checks and balances by vetoing bills she doesn’t like.

Short of electing more Republicans to the Senate, then, there isn’t much Americans can do to stop Clinton from ruling, in many ways, as a queen rather than as a mere president.

Mike Myer can be reached online at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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