Friday, January 05, 2007

What Congress Must REALLY Do

Democrats were officially sworn in as the majority party in Congress January 4th. Prior to the newly empowered opposition's taking of the reigns of power, George W. Bush got an op-ed printed in the conservative Wall Street Journal laying out what he thinks Democrats should do in their new position of power.

It is not surprising that the op-ed is, in reality, a thinly-veiled royal edict demanding Democrats cave in to the Shrub just as the former Republican majority did for six years.

"It's time Congress give the president a line-item veto," demanded Bush. The problem with this is that Bill Clinton also pushed for the line item veto, and the Supreme Court shot it down as unconstitutional. What the dictator is really saying is he wants unfettered power to enact portions of legislation he likes, while negating the portions he doesn't like.

But Bush has already exercised such unconstitutional powers through the use of signing statements, in which he declares his intention to ignore or void laws passed by the Legislature. He has issued in excess of 800 signing statements, ignoring laws or portions of laws passed by Congress. This is blatantly unconstitutional and has no legal basis, according to the American Bar Association.

The dictator also demanded Congress reign in spending, and make his tax giveaways to the top one percent in America permanent. This would be laughable if it weren't so blatantly hypocritical; after six years of a pliant Republican majority, and having never vetoed a spending bill, it is outrageous to demand accountability now.

But what is most infuriating is the threat of obstructionism if the new majority fails to tailor its legislation to suit Bush's liking.

"If the Congress chooses to pass bills that are simply political statements, they will have chosen stalemate," he wrote. What he is saying is that he will veto any and all legislation passed by Democrats within the next two years. He knows full well they haven't enough votes to override his vetoes.

This is an obvious bluff; if Bush proceeds with his threats, he will injure GOP chances of retaining the White House because of his partisan obstructionism. Democrats should call that bluff.

There is a far more imperative need for starting the impeachment process, however. The dictator has issued yet another signing statement gutting the Constitution, by giving himself the power to open the mail of U.S. citizens without cause or warrant—a clear violation of federal law and the Constitution.

This alone is grounds for immediate impeachment, and removal from office. But newly-elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has already taken that option off the table.

If Democrats have any hope of getting anything done between now and January 2009 they must do their Constitutional duty to impeach the dictator. They must, above all else, restore the rule of law. If they don't, they risk the ire of the very same voters whose disgust with Bush's abuses of power and GOP corrupt acquiescence in Congress led to Democratic victory in 2006. And they will be voted out in 2008.

To do anything less is to give mere lip service to the rhetoric of reform and commitment to Congressional oversight. And that is the last thing the American public wants from its newly-empowered Democratic majority.

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