Herman Cain's Commentary Archive 2009-2012

May 7, 2012

Abuse of Power

By Herman Cain
May 7, 2012

Remember when Democrats, including a certain senator named Barack Obama, used to scream that President George W. Bush was abusing his executive powers?

Those were the good old days!

Since becoming president, Obama has turned the abuse of executive power into a high art form – especially since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and rendered him incapable of getting the most extreme elements of his left-wing agenda through Congress.

Obama is especially brazen in his use of executive orders, and most astonishingly, he makes no bones about the fact that he does so – telling a gathering in Las Vegas last October, “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.”

In Obamaspeak, “dysfunctional” is a euphemism for “won’t give me everything I want.” So what are the big emergencies that require Obama to act on his own without congressional approval? Here are nine of the most egregious examples:

Force federal contractors to disclose their political contributions. This is an example of how the government can abuse its role in business relationships to do things it could never do in the normal course of governing. Lots of firms want to do business with the federal government. While Obama cannot get away with an executive order requiring everyone to tell him the candidates or causes they supported financially, he can make it a requirement for bidding on federal contracts. Once he knows where everyone’s political donation dollars go, who do you think has the best shot at the contracts? Exactly. And what else might he do with the information he gathers? Here’s one thing . . .

Publicly attack financial backers of Mitt Romney. In April, the Obama campaign launched a web site publicly naming, and attacking the integrity of, eight private citizens who contributed money to the Romney campaign. The Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel reported that Obama accused these people of having shady reputations, making insinuations pertaining to things like outsourcing of jobs and foreclosures. Strassel rightly compared this tactic to Richard Nixon’s notorious “enemies list.” Obama may insist that he takes these actions as a candidate and not as president, but that is a load of crap. The fact is that he is president, and he is attacking private citizens for exercising their right to participate in the political process.

Require private companies to give unions employee phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Since the 1960s, the National Labor Relations Board has required private companies who are the target of a unionization effort to give unions the home addresses of their employees. That is bad as it is, but it’s not enough for Obama-appointed NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce, who told the Associated Press in January that he now wants the companies to also give the unions their employees’ home phone numbers and e-mail addresses. So they can harass them in even more ways. Why stop there? Why not just threaten to shut down operations entirely if they are not unionized? Since you mentioned it.

Let the NLRB threaten to shut down operations entirely if they are not unionized. You may have heard about this story from South Carolina. Boeing’s attempt to open a plant in South Carolina was frustrated for months by the NLRB, which filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina project only to drop it immediately after Boeing agreed to build its 737 Max jet using union labor in Reston, Washington. The NLRB is supposed to be an independent board, but under the control of Obama’s appointees it is used to blatantly do the bidding of labor unions.

Use ObamaCare money to hide the forcing of Medicare Advantage participants into regular Medicare. Medicare Advantage is the program in which participants are covered by private insurance for which the government pays the premiums, as opposed to the government directly paying the medical bills under regular Medicare. It is a much more efficient system. But under ObamaCare, many recipients will be forced off of Medicare Advantage (so much for “if you like your plan you can keep your plan”) and onto regular Medicare. Bad news for Obama: This was scheduled to happen three weeks before the election. So Obama found more than $83 billion worth of ObamaCare funds and announced a “demonstration project” that will keep these recipients on Medicare Advantage until after the election – hiding the truth from them just long enough for him to get their votes.

Force private citizens to provide free services to the government in time of “emergency.” There has been some overreaction to an executive order Obama signed in March, which seeks to mobilize national resources in time of emergency. It is not the onset of martial law as some have claimed, but there are some things to justify concern. For one thing, Obama claims the right to compel private citizens to provide consulting services to the government without compensation. Isn’t that the sort of thing Congress should have a say in? It also makes clear that this can only be implemented according to established rules, but then declares a rather troubling exception – unless determined otherwise by the president or his national security advisor! So Obama signed an executive order giving himself more power to make unilateral decisions. That is not right.

After ripping Bush for using technology to track potential criminals, do even more of it. The issue here might be hypocrisy as much as anything else. Perhaps you can make an argument for Obama’s move to track cell phone and Internet use to catch those suspected of involvement with genocide. This order, issued in April, is supposed to be focused on those in cahoots with the governments of Iran and Syria, although there’s at least the theoretical possibility it could be expanded to be used against American citizens. I’m not inclined to scream bloody murder over potential abuses of such power. But I remember a lot of people who were during the Bush presidency. One of them was Barack Obama.

Make recess appointments when there is no recess. Obama was highly critical of Bush for making recess appointments, in spite of the fact that such appointments are entirely constitutional. These are appointments a president makes when Congress is in recess. They don’t require Senate confirmation but automatically expire at the end of that congressional session. Bush made several of them to get around Democratic opposition to his choices. Obama denounced him for doing so. So guess what Obama has done? He announced a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray as the acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – even though the Senate was not technically in recess.

Use the IRS to harass your political opponents. Would President Hope-and-Change do that? You bet he would. Despite protests on the House floor from more than 63 Republican congressmen, the IRS has been mailing letters to Tea Party chapters around the country demanding identification of all their volunteers and donors. This is outrageous. Even if there was an issue with their tax status, the IRS would have no reason to demand information like this. It’s pure and simple political harassment.

But that’s Barack Obama. He observes no limits to his own power because he thinks the preservation of said power is the most important thing he can ever do. When he protested Bush’s use of executive power, he was obviously 100 percent insincere. Now that the power is his, there is no way of using it that Obama believes is inappropriate.

This is a long ways from the “hope and change” business people bought in 2008. But that’s because the real Obama is a long ways from what he portrayed himself to be. There is no excuse for anyone to buy it again in 2012.