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Forget Congress, rule by executive order

Published October 29. 2011 09:01AM

June, I wrote an article on government by regulation rather than legislation. At the time I noticed a disturbing trend. President Obama was using executive orders to govern our nation. ( This week, President Obama indicated that he would expand his rule by executive order. His statement "We can't wait for lawmakers to act," suggests to me that he is moving more into the role of a dictator than a President. Our country was founded on the concepts of a balance of power. Congress passes the laws and the President signs or vetoes them. The administration implements the legislation and runs the government. Now, our President has decided that if Congress does not do what he wants them to, then he will use executive orders and regulations by government agencies to impose his will upon the nation.

The President is using his jobs initiative as justification for his actions. His jobs bill was so packed with unnecessary stimulus in it that the Senate rejected it. He has decided to break the bill into smaller pieces that are more likely to pass. You can be sure that if a key component is not passed, he will find a way to implement it through an executive order or through a regulation implemented by one of the many government agencies.

As I write this, the Justice Department is considering a regulation that would permit the government to lie about the existence of sensitive documents. Congress passed the Freedom Of Information Act to enable citizens to access government records. If a request for information is denied, the requestor can go to court to gain access to the document. The court often orders that the documents be released. Over the last few years, the Justice Department had an informal practice of lying to protect sensitive documents. If the document does not exist, then the court cannot order the release of the document. Now the Justice Department wants to ensure that it can legally deceive the courts and the public. To do this, they do not have to wait for Congress to act. All they have to do is implement a new regulation. A senior official at the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy stated that the process of creating the regulation to lie to the American people "has been open and transparent." Is this the truth or another one of the Justice Department's lies?

Another lie is that the government does not discriminate. The Department of Agriculture just announced a new program to provide socially disadvantaged loans for purchasing a farm. The government website announcing this new loan clearly states that "While all qualified producers are eligible to apply for these loan programs, FSA has targeted funding for members of socially disadvantaged applicants". Socially disadvantaged groups are defined as women, blacks, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Latinos and Asian and Pacific Islanders". In other words, white males need not apply. ( This is a clear case of discrimination. If a corporation tried to use the same exclusionary language, they would be sued by their employees or relentlessly pursued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In another executive order, President Obama changed the student loan agreements. This was announced in the midst of the Occupy Wall Street shenanigans. I suggest he did this in order to buy student votes in the upcoming election. When people agree to a student loan, they agreed to make payments until the loan is completely paid off. Under this new executive order, he lowered the interest rate on some of the loans. The new "Pay As You Earn" program will greatly reduce the amounts that students will repay to a maximum of 10 percent of their earnings and it will forgive the loan entirely after 20 years. (

When you first look at this it sounds reasonable. But let's look at the reality. Many students graduate but aren't able to get a job in their specialty. They may take jobs as waiters or bartenders at a much lower wage than they anticipated when they entered college. Starting salaries for recent graduates has dropped to $27,000 a year. In my opinion, many would have been better off to learn a trade such as carpentry or plumbing instead of going to college. The American Dream includes a college education, but the reality is that jobs for graduates are just not there. Graduates find themselves unemployed with a very large debt owed to Uncle Sam. Rather than write off their loans for higher education 20 years down the road, it would be better to encourage students to select an education that prepares them for available jobs or a professional career upon graduation. We should stop pushing students into college, funded by cheap government loans. The migration of skilled jobs to Asia and increased automation has lowered the demand for those with college degrees. As a result, we have a shortage of skilled tradesmen and a surplus of teachers and social workers.

The administration is pushing congress to enact legislation to provide an additional $35 billion to enable states and municipalities to hire more teachers. We already have too many teachers producing substandard results. When some of us went to school, the student teacher ratio was 30 to 40 students per teacher. We learned to read and write. We knew the history and geography of our country. Through massive funding increases the student teacher ratio is now approximately 15 students to one teacher. Despite the drop in class size, many young adults are graduating poorly prepared for the real world. Some can barely read or write. Others were pushed through the system under the "No Child Left Behind" program. Don't blame the teachers for the mess we are in. Blame the bureaucrats who push politically correct agendas or scramble after federal or state funding. Most teachers are doing the best they can with the resources they have.

On Monday, the President signed an executive order to enable people who were upside down on their mortgages (they owe more than the house was worth) to refinance their loans. This will enable the homeowner to take advantage of lower interest rates. Prior to the executive order, the banks would not loan more than a house was worth, even if the homeowner was current on the loan. Now, they can refinance the entire loan amount at a lower rate regardless of the underlying value of the house. If the homeowner defaults, the government guarantees the loan and pays the bank. Surely this will lead to another housing related crisis in the future.

I do not believe that the Founding Fathers ever envisioned that we would be ruled by regulation. They created Congress to ensure that the laws were written by the people and for the people. The justification that "we can't wait for lawmakers" does not hold water. The United States of America is not a dictatorship. Mr. Obama is the President, not an emperor. As President, he and his administration must work with the lawmakers rather than bypassing them.

© 2011 Gordon Smith - All Rights Reserved

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