Tag Archives: Executive Order

Crafting Legislation Without Passing Laws


Yesterday I posted on the trend, new or old it turns out, taking place in statehouses across the country.  We are seeing a rash of new legislation being proposed that would make it a crime for anyone to enforce any federal regulation speaking to the control of guns.  I find such actions concerning.  Concerning in the same way that I see the federal government prohibiting states from enforcing federal laws.  The example I used yesterday was immigration.

I made the point that Obama wanted to adjust the policy on immigration and implement reforms that he favors.  Earlier in his 1st term he was speaking to proponents of immigration reform and mentioned that there is very little that he could do; current law is, after all, current law and he is obligated to enforce that law.

Well, as we know, he walked away from that position.  First he sued states like Arizona who wanted to enforce federal law.  Then, of course, he issued an executive order that said, in part, that he would not prosecute “Dreamers”.  That is, those folks who are here illegally but were brought to America as children, are not going to be subject to current immigration laws.

Justification was that Obama isn’t changing laws, he’s simply allocating scare resources and, as executive, he can do that.

I think this whole concept, as I mentioned, is dangerous.  And I think that the precedent is going to lead to very undesirable outcomes.

For example, consider the next time we have a republican in the White House.  And suppose that he doesn’t agree with the tax code, specifically feels that tax levels are too high at various level of income. Rather than wrestle with congress to pass new laws, he can simply issue an executive order stating that he will not prosecute individuals, at specific levels of incomes, who don’t pay taxes in excess of what he feels is fair.

Or, perhaps taking cue from the waivers to Obamacare, he decides to issue corporate tax waivers to selected industries or corporations.

Complete confusion and chaos.

President Obama’s Executive Order

We all know what just happened.  Obama announced on Friday that he would no longer authorize the deportation of children in the country illegally:

(Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who were brought into the United States as children will be able to avoid deportation and get work permits under an order on Friday by President Barack Obama.

I immediately came out in support of the policy and think that the time has long ago passed when we need to craft a better immigration policy here in America.  As I enjoyed the weekend, however, I began to look past the immediate good news of the policy and think through how we got here.

And I don’t like it at all.

The President issued an Executive Order.  By it, he simply stated that he would no longer enforce the deportation of these kids.  He did NOT change their status or any laws that speak to that status.  He just told us what he would do, or not do, with those found in violation of those laws.  I don’t think that rewrote any law or is breaking any laws in doing what he did.

However.  Think this through.

When we make it easier for Presidents to change laws based on discretion of prosecution, what’s to prevent a future President from changing tax law in the same manner:

I now declare that I am instructing my administration to stop prosecuting individuals who fail to pay more than 15% of their income in taxes.

Just like that the President can effectively change tax law without the need to involve congress.

I ask you, is this what we want?