It’s hard to know for sure whether congressional Republicans are serious about their complaints that President Obama is a “lawless” radical hell bent on tyranny, but quite a few GOP lawmakers are backing legislation to address the imaginary crisis.
Forty-three Republicans have co-sponsored the resolution since Obama’s State of the Union address, where he threatened to enact policies if Congress didn’t act.The Stop This Overreaching Presidency (STOP) measure, introduced by Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), now has 104 co-sponsors, including Senate GOP hopeful Reps. Jack Kingston (Ga.), James Lankford (Okla.), Steve Stockman (Texas), Paul Broun (Ga.), Steve Daines (Mont.) and Phil Gingrey (Ga.).
As of now, there are 232 House Republicans, so the STOP resolution has the support of nearly half the caucus.
In general, proponents of the measure defend it by relying on platitudes. Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) said she signed on as a cosponsor because it’s wrong for a president to “rule by fiat.” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) added, “We have a president who once taught the Constitution who has now forgotten the Constitution.” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said, “Our country rejects the concept of dictatorship.”
Those are fairly predictable soundbites with no direct relationship with reality, but it only reinforces questions about what in the world these lawmakers are talking about. Who’s trying to “rule by fiat”? What, exactly, is “unconstitutional”? What is it, specifically, about contemporary federal policymaking that reminds Steve Scalise of a “dictatorship”?
Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) told The Hill that his resolution is focused on “Obama’s delay of the employer mandate, enactment of the Dream Act, extension of ‘substandard’ health insurance plans and ending work requirements for welfare.”
That’s it? That’s the best House Republicans have come up with to bolster their hair-on-fire screams about an out-of-control would-be king?
The list of grievances is, to put it mildly, pretty thin. Of the four things Rice mentioned, two are tweaks to Affordable Care Act implementation – and President Obama’s use of his regulatory powers are effectively identical to President Bush’s tweaks of Medicare Part D implementation. And since Republicans were wholly unconcerned about Bush/Cheney trying to “rule by fiat,” it seems there’s just not much here to be worked up about.
Another one of the four points Rice raised was Obama relying on deferred action for Dream Act kids. The right may not like the policy, and might even prefer deportation for these children, but no one on either side of the debate has made the case that the president lacked the authority to make this decision. It’s been nearly two years since the executive order and it’s pretty obvious this was a legitimate use of presidential power.
And finally, Rice said Obama is “ending work requirements for welfare,” which is a lie. Several governors – including some notable Republican chief executives – asked the Obama administration for some flexibility in states experimenting with welfare-to-work programs, and the White House agreed. There just wasn’t anything outrageous about it – it was a policy Republicans asked for.
If this is the very best Republicans can come up with to bolster their “lawless” thesis, it’s clearly time to move on to the next manufactured outrage. This one’s just silly.