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WaPo: To blunt ‘fiscal cliff’, administration could assert broad powers

More than not, it seems as though the Washington Post is from another country – if not another planet. In proposing a solution to the “fiscal cliff”, Washington Post writer Zachary Goldfarb proposes that the White House should take unilateral action and assert broad powers to re-arrange tax and fiscal policy – all from the executive branch.

First, the “fiscal cliff” is only an issue because the White House decided to force sequestration down the throats of Harry Reid and John Boehner in response to earlier budget crisis – a remedy neither leader wanted but saw as a compromise with the President. Reid felt it risked too many cuts and Boehner expressed concerns over using it as a budgeting tool.

Mr. Goldfarb now sees the same opportunity that perhaps the White House did when they pushed sequestration and the fiscal cliff:

The Obama administration could blunt the economic harm caused by the “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year by using its unilateral powers over spending and taxes, for instance, by freezing how much in taxes is taken out of payroll checks, according to former senior officials and other tax and budget experts.

Unfortunately for the ill-informed WaPo writer, taxation is function of Congress. The President cannot simply choose to not collect taxes that Congress has imposed. We don’t have a king or dictator here Mr. Goldfarb. Actions such as the author proposes would be against the President’s oath of office and reason for impeachment – if Congress had the gumption to take action.

What Goldfarb fails to understand is the fundamental framework of our government set forth in the Constitution. Congress debates and passes legislation and the President makes sure those laws are enforced. If the President fails to do so, he is certainly failing in his duties.

The reason the separation of powers are so ingrained in the Constitution is to prevent the type of power-grab that the Post article proposes the administration should enact.

At one point in the article, it’s not even clear if Goldfarb understands what he’s proposing:

But the Treasury Department could try to blunt the impact by freezing withholding tables at 2012 levels. The law gives the Treasury secretary the authority to set withholding tables at his discretion, though they are supposed to comply with the law.

What does that even mean?

Ignorance of our system of government is exactly why liberal/socialistic ideas seem plausible. Only those taking the time to understand the long term consequences of such short-term thinking will see it as dangerous.

The President must not usurp the taxing authority of Congress to ease the pain that the President’s administration caused in the first place. Actually, Congress must not allow the President to usurp its authority at all.

As if to prove that the maneuver would be unconstitutional the author dedicates the final paragraph to quoting Gregory F. Jenner on how the tactic is viable because no one will call the President on it:

“I think it’s possible. Who’s going to challenge him?”

If Congress will not, we will replace them. So to answer Mr. Jenner’s question – We the people will challenge him.

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  1. Rich, you say, “We don’t have a king or dictator here ….” But that truism is certainly not for lack of trying by Obama. Great article!