Voxsplaining: 'Why the president becomes more powerful when Congress fails'

Voxsplaining is really just another word for excusing whatever Obama wants to do.

In their latest voxsplanatory card, Ezra Klein spells out why, when Congress fails to pass a law that the president wants, then he is empowered to go ahead and do what he wants anyway.


[O]ne way the system survives congressional action is that power flows to non-congressional branches. When Congress does less the executive branch, the courts, and the Federal Reserve do more. Presidential overreach is partly a response to congressional dysfunction.

Whip out your pocket Constitution all you want and search, but you’ll search in vain for a clause that says “When Congress does not act, we hereby entitle the president to go crazy with it.” It’s not there.

The president enforces laws passed by Congress. He does not get to rewrite those laws, and he certainly does not get to create new law if Congress does not submit to his will.

Head-scratcher for the voxsplainers: If a president can respond to congressional inaction by overreaching his authority, can Congress respond in kind? The answer to that one will mean a whole lot after this year’s mid-terms, though I’m sure the voxsplainin’ team will reject the very notion after November.

Just as Congress is too divided to do anything; it’s also too divided to stop the other parts of government from doing something. Congress can’t pass a law solving the immigration crisis but it also can’t pass a law stopping Obama from trying to solve it. It can’t pass a law regulating carbon emissions but it also can’t pass a law stopping the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions. And that’s because big portions of Congress want these actions to be taken; they happen because they enough congressional support to survive.


So, a divided Congress is powerless to stop a president? I’ve been making that case here since November 2012, when I latched onto the idea that Obama has hacked the Constitution. Here’s how that works.

The Democrats control the Senate, the Republicans control the House. The Democrat leadership in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid chiefly, has decided to place the party’s and Obama’s interests above those of the Senate. Where past Senate leaders would jealously guard the body’s powers and prerogatives against any threat, Reid has made the Senate’s interests subservient to Obama’s.

Knowing this, Obama has a freer hand to break laws and rewrite laws on the books. The House under Republican control can do very little to stop him. It can pass all the laws it wants. It can even draft articles of impeachment (it can — but it won’t). But as long as Reid holds the reins in the Senate the House’s actions will be stymied.  Congress is dysfunctional, but not entirely for the reasons that the voxsplainers and the mainstream media claim. Sure, the House GOP leadership tends to embarrass itself. But that dysfunction is small compared to the huge dysfunction that Reid embodies. He is literally breaking the Constitution’s system of checks and balances by removing any threat of discipline from the president. Whether he knows it or not, Harry Reid really is paving the way for tyranny.


The voxsplainers see it differently, because Obama is the president. In their heads, the immigration crisis is something that Obama and the Democrats want to solve. It’s actually something that they caused and then want the credit for solving, for political reasons, while putting Republicans in a couple of political binds. There is no upside for Republicans to go along with the president’s wishes on this. If there is, Obama has failed to make that case to them.

But all of that is really beside the point. Nothing in our body of laws says the president can do whatever he wants because Congress hasn’t bent to his will. That’s not the case with the presidential pardon power, which Klein voxsplains into the immigration discussion.

And there are, of course, real dangers to the president repeatedly stretching his powers. Conservative critics go too far when they pretend that Obama’s actions are unprecedented. President Jimmy Carter, for instance, unilaterally pardoned hundreds of thousands of draft dodgers — an action more extreme than anything Obama is said to be considering.

Objection — irrelevant!

The pardon power is written into the Constitution. Everyone (except Klein, apparently) understands that and that it’s a broad power with little Congressional oversight. Obama’s actions amount to rewriting laws years after they were drafted, debated and passed. It’s an apples and oranges comparison.


Toward the end of his piece, Klein hints that he suffers from more than mere confusion stemming from the Constitution’s age — he may not be in touch with reality.

Congress is going to be divided for a long time.

Hm. It’s August. The election is in November, and Republicans will hold the House and they’re very likely to take the Senate. How “divided” will Congress be then?

h/t Hot Air


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