Ben Stein writes a stinging piece about Obama shaking down BP for $20 billion, which he correctly says is unconstitutional because Congress hasn’t passed a law giving him authority on any of the things he mentions, such as demanding BP set up a $20 billion fund,firing the head of GM, etc.
Obama Acting Like a ‘Dictator’ on BP
As I write this on Monday night, there are rumors around that BP will agree to President Barack Obama’s demand that the oil giant “voluntarily” put about $30 billion into a fund to be administered by the government to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.( Now we know it was $20 billion)
But the action of the President in demanding this immense transfer of the stockholders’ wealth without any legislation or court decision is extremely worrisome.
We live in a Constitutional Republic. The President’s job under the Constitution is to enforce the laws made by the elected Congress. His job is not to create new laws and enforce them all by himself. His job is as magistrate under the Constitution, not as Caudillo (warlord,dictator,strong man). He is not the law. He is supposed to enforce what Congress decides (according to the Constitution).
The BP behavior is reminiscent of how, immediately after assuming office, Mr. Obama, with no Congressional authority or administrative allowance, simply made a phone call to fire the head of GM. When I called the White House press office to ask under what law or regulation Mr. Obama was acting, I was told he did not need a law (What? Remember when President Nixon said, ‘if the president does it, it’s legal? No it’s not!). If the government put a lot of money into GM, it could call the shots at GM, I was told. But under what authority, I asked. “None needed,” was the final answer.
Without any new legislation, President Obama has used returned TARP money as a political slush fund to prop up favorite industries. This is the same problem: serious executive action without legislative authority (which the Constitution requires).
The same goes for Mr. Obama’s demand that BP pay the lost wages of oil and gas workers suspended from work because of the moratorium (Obama’s moratorium, not one recommended even by experts) on Gulf of Mexico underseas drilling. There simply was no legislation allowing this kind of specific demand. Mr. Obama’s demand was in the nature of a threat, more than a Constitutional act.
Of course, every President tries “jawboning” to restrain steel company price increases or something similar. But to create specific enactments and actions without any authority – now Mr. Obama’s specialty – is so at odds with the law of the land that it terrifies me. These are not the acts of a teacher on Constitutional law. These are the acts of a big city boss or a third world dictator. If you want to know why business has pulled in its horns and hunkered down, and why people at tea parties and elsewhere are scared, look no further than Barack “I Am The Law” Obama.
Is there anyone in Congress to stop him? Is there anyone in a black robe to stop him? Or is everyone already too scared to challenge the Duce in the White House?
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.