Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's Up to Congress to Legislate.

According to CNN, at least some Democrats in Congress are frustrated that they are not receiving more specific directions from President Obama on health care reform legislation. These Democrats need to adapt to a President who is a consensus-builder, not a dictator. They also need to take another read of the Constitution.

In the modern era, we have gotten so used to thinking of the President as some kind of all-powerful commander, because of recent presidents' expansive readings of their foreign policy and war-time powers, that we forget the limited role the president is actually supposed to play in the legislative process. President Obama, perhaps based on his background as a constitutional law professor or as a community organizer, and perhaps based on his natural inclinations, is not going to be the decision-maker on issues that are supposed to be decided by Congress. While he has a definite agenda, and has made very clear proposals to Congress on energy legislation, financial reform legislation, and health care legislation, he is leaving it to Congress to work out the details in a way that can get the legislation passed. He is not going to tell Congress how to resolve issues within the broad framework of the bill, though he is certainly not shy about giving his opinions.

So, as President Obama made clear at his press conference last night, he is happy to weigh in with his ideas on such sticking points as how to fund health care reform, and he still thinks his idea of limiting the tax deductibility of health insurance benefits is the best way to do it, but if Congress wants to come up with a different way of funding the bill that the President can still support, he will sign Congress's bill. Congress is just going to have to get used to the idea that it is the original source of power in the legislative area under our Constitution, and our Representatives and Senators are going to have to stop whining and do their jobs.

1 comment:

  1. And yet he is willing to use the same Executive Powers he put Bush down for using keeping meeting attendance secret among other things.

    I'd say Obama is playing it safe so he can distance himself when the bomb goes off or limit the damage to himself if things tank.

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