Executive power can bypass a more pro-gun House majority
December 15, 2010
by Joseph P. Tartaro
A George Soros-funded think tank with deep ties to the White House has written a roadmap for President Obama to bypass the new Republican Congress and rule for the next two years via executive order, according to a November report from WorldNetDaily.com (WND).
The plan calls for Obama to push a “progressive agenda” on issues of health care, economy, environment, education, federal government and foreign policy, according to WND.
John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress, wrote, “the US Constitution and the laws of our nation grant the president significant authority to make and implement policy,” including in executive orders, diplomacy, rulemaking and commanding the armed forces.
“The ability of President Obama to accomplish important change through these powers should not be underestimated,” he wrote.
Podesta was commenting in introductory remarks to his center’s 54-page treatise entitled, “The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change.”
The center reportedly was founded in 2003 with seed money from Soros, who also donated $3 million to the center’s sister, the Project Action Fund. Its mission states the group is “dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action,” WND reported
Podesta, a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton, was co-chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. A Time magazine article profiles the influence of Podesta’s Center for American Progress in the formation of the Obama administration, stating that “not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan’s transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway.”
A summary of the center’s map for Obama’s next two years is listed on the group’s website: americanprogress.org. The center states it is offering “just some of the many possible actions the administration can take using existing authority to move the country forward.”
The report details how the president can advance his “progressive” agenda in spite of the fact that his party lost control of the House and had his Senate majority weakened. But it is not just Republicans who might vote against the president’s and Podesta’s initiatives in Congress. There are a lot of “progressive Democrats” who won’t set foot on the anti-gun road.
The “progressive” roadmap offered by the Center for American Progress covers so many topics that I won’t detail them in this column. Suffice it to say that the gun issue per se is not spelled out. However, the document does go into some detail with respect to energy, the environment and conservation. Among other things, it recommends careful management of public lands and urges Obama to convene a meeting of hunters and anglers in the development of a fish and wildlife climate adaptation plan.
In the foreign policy and national security arena, the document urges the president and his administration to deal with a whole battery of issues from rebalancing the US strategy in Afghanistan, and using executive branch authority to mitigate the impact of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy “if Congress does not repeal it” to using the various cabinet departments to change US policies on the international scene.
Essentially, the leftest wing of the Democratic Party is trying to push Obama to “finally do the right thing through as many Executive Orders” as can be presented to him.
What the document indicates is that gunowners can expect more and more of the kind of executive anti-gun maneuvers than we have already scene through executive orders, diplomacy, rulemaking and commanding the armed forces.
Here are just a few examples of what has already been done through executive power.
First perhaps, is the action of the White House, through the State Department and appointment of Hillary Clinton, to reverse the Bush administration’s opposition to the global gun control schemes at the United Nations. Early on this administration went on record as supporting new international treaties on small arms, which would include not just handguns, rifles and shotguns, but ammunition as well.
Following up on that move in early fall this year, Obama appointed anti-gun rights former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels as an alternate representative to the UN, an action which the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) said “has removed any doubt about the Obama administration’s intentions regarding global gun control initiatives.”
While many hope that any UN gun control treaty would, or could, be defeated in a Senate concurrence vote, such a defeat would not drive a stake through the treaty’s heart. Once a treaty is signed by the US, the president’s cabinet appointees could adhere to and follow the specific regulations imposed by the treaty even if the Senate rejects it or refuses to bring it up for a vote.
In his other executive power demonstrations, Obama appointed, in quick succession, two clear anti-gunners to the US Supreme Court, both of whom voted against applying the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms to the states in the McDonald case against Chicago. Fortunately, his appointment of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan did not change the mathematics of the Supreme Court, which ruled in June, with just a one vote margin to incorporate the Second Amendment to the states and municipalities. His next appointments could very well switch the Supreme Court votes in Heller and McDonald from 5-4 to 4-5.
Then, just recently, Obama nominated Andrew Traver to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Traver has not just been the head of the ATF’s Chicago office, but has been a public advocate for more gun control. The move is akin to putting the fox in charge of the chickens.
All of this is by an agenda-orchestrated exercise of executive power, entirely separate from the advice and consent of the Senate. In fact, with Congress in recess or adjournment, the president has the power to make such interim appointments provisionally without congressional action. Often, these appointments to cabinet and sub-cabinet offices last until the next Congress or even the next president.
Unless Congress acts to specifically forbid certain actions, the occupant of the White House has a lot of power. Although some might consider this dictatorial, this power has survived since the Constitution was first adopted. And activist presidents, throughout US history, have used the executive powers granted their office by the Constitution to advance their agendas.
Some presidents have been more circumspect about using executive power unilaterally, but most have used it in some way or another. Obama would be no exception and we have been warned that many official and unofficial advisors have been urging him to use all of his Cabinet secretaries and assistant secretaries to consolidate the “progressive agenda.”
Guns and their possession were not specifically addressed in the Podesta document sent to the White House, but judging from the nominations and appointments Obama has made so far, names and faces friendly to the civil rights of gunowners will probably be very scarce around Obama’s Cabinet meetings for the next two years.
So when you chalk up the pro- and anti-gun scores for 2010 and look ahead to 2011 don’t be surprised by a blitzkrieg by White House insiders.
Meanwhile, as we send this final issue dated in 2010 to the printer, the staffs of Gun Week, our sister publication, Women & Guns, and the entire Second Amendment Foundation family wish you and yours a safe, healthy and happy Holiday Season.
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