Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Monday, August 08, 2011

More waivers in the works

If we are to live under the rule of law, don't we have to amend the laws when we disagree with them rather than seek waivers from the executive branch?

The Obama administration has previously been in the news with its waivers of "Obamacare" requirements.

Now, the federal Department of Education is in the news with its plan to grant waivers of "No Child Left Behind" requirements.

This article in the Washington Post gives some of the details, and includes at the end a mention of the questionable nature of waivers:

"Even if one agrees with [Duncan] on the merits, as I do, the law doesn't say he can unilaterally impose new conditions that aren't in the law," said Finn, a Republican. "There's a separation of powers issue involved here. To what extent does the executive branch get to decide what's in the law?"

If there is no provision in the statute that authorizes the planned waivers, even when those waivers may be conditioned on meeting new requirements that might achieve something similar to the original purpose, then the executive branch would be legislating.

The legislative power of federal government is vested in the Congress, not the executive branch.

We are going down a path with these waivers that leads to nullification of the legislative power, since the executive branch would not be carrying out the laws as enacted by Congress.

If the law isn't what people want it to be, the proper solution is to amend the law through new legislation, not to waive the law's requirements. So why are we going down this path?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Now what will lenders do?

The downgrade of Uncle Sam's credit rating by Standard & Poor's today wasn't hard to foresee, given the inability of the Democrats in the Senate and White House to support spending cuts that could rein in the deficits that are anticipated over the next few years.

According to this article in the Washington Post, the compromise reached this week didn't go far enough, and Standard & Poor's concluded that the necessary legislative action to cut spending isn't likely.

The Obama administration apparently doesn't get it, if they really think this sort of judgment about a debtor nation's ability to avoid reaching a point of no return is merely "political" and thus inappropriate.

According to the last paragraph of the article:

Obama administration officials have been critical of S&P for making what was essentially a political judgment and for failing to conclude that the country was making a strong first step to reducing its deficit.

Our political institutions--Congress and the President--have to turn themselves around, which is essentially political no matter how you cut it.

Standard & Poor's and everyone else must make a judgment about the likelihood of such a change. They cannot merely hope for a change.