The Constitutional Law Professor

If you want to understand why President Obama is holding so firm and refusing to negotiate, especially over raising the debt ceiling you can find many of the answer in this terrific article by Jonathan Chait in the New Yorker.

The Shutdown Prophet

We also have a President who is a Constitutional scholar and actually understands the document and how the three branches of government are supposed to work as opposed to the Tea Party Republicans who profess to love the document, but seem to have little understanding of what it means or how it works.  President Obama made a serious mistake when he allowed the debt ceiling to become a chit in the 2011 budget negotiation.  He reached for a Grand Bargain, Boehner initially agreed until howls from the radical right had him backing away.  Sadly the precedent had been set and some in the Republican party believed going in that Obama was weak, he would always cave.  It went along with their perception and narrative of him as stupid, reliant on teleprompters, etc. etc.  Just as they did on election night 2012 they had failed to look beyond their own talking points and intellectual bubble where evolution and climate change are myths, and Romney was going to win in a landslide.  They entered into this latest duel believing that the President would buckle and give them what they wanted.  They had past as precedent.

What they also failed to realize is that Barack Obama is a man who learns from his mistakes and adjusts accordingly.  He may be hammered in the polls, but I believe he will not blink or retreat from this hill because he cannot.  If he does it will destroy our governmental system.  At that point any disgruntled party — Democrat or Republican can hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to try and reverse the results of an election or put in place an agenda that had been rejected by the voters in an election.

Here’s a thought game — what if the Republican House had sent to the President a clean and simple bill raising the debt ceiling, but the President vetoed that bill, and demanded the House put in place gun control measures, and make abortion free in every state.  If Congress refused he was going to destroy the credit of the country and threaten the world’s economy.  People would be (rightly) trying to remove him from office claiming he was no longer competent and had clearly lost his mind.  Because that’s not how our system is supposed to work.

A faction of Republicans are doing this because they want to repeal a law that has been tested in every imaginable way allowed under the Constitution.  The ACA was passed by Congress, challenged at the Supreme Court and upheld, and affirmed by an election where it’s opponent had promised to repeal it as his first act in office.  He lost.  This isn’t conservatism.  It’s a revolutionary mindset with nihilism waiting in the wings.  As any of my readers know I have enormous respect for the U.S. Constitution.  It was my focus of study in law school.  I’m devastated by what is happening because people who profess to love the Constitution are attempting to destroy it.

8 Responses to The Constitutional Law Professor

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    Here is a few more facts about the shutdown. First the link http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/10/shutdown-debt-ceiling-explained and now the 10 facts you need to know.

    1. Democrats have already agreed to fund the government at Republican levels.

    2. Despite what you might have heard, there have only been two serious government shutdowns in recent history, and both were the result of Republican ultimatums.

    3. Democrats in the Senate have been begging the House to negotiate over the budget for the past six months, but Republicans have refused.

    4. That’s because Republicans wanted to wait until they had either a government shutdown or a debt ceiling breach as leverage, something they’ve been very clear about all along.

    5. Republicans keep talking about compromise, but they’ve offered nothing in return for agreeing to their demands—except to keep the government intact if they get their way.

    6. The public is very strongly opposed to using a government shutdown to stop Obamacare.

    7. Contrary to Republican claims, the deficit is not increasing—it peaked in 2009 and has been dropping ever since, declining by $200 billion last year with another $450 billion drop projected this year.

    8. A long government shutdown is likely to seriously hurt economic growth, with a monthlong shutdown projected to slash GDP in the fourth quarter by 1 percentage point and reduce employment by over a million jobs.

    9. No, Democrats have not used debt ceiling hostage taking in the past to force presidents to accept their political agenda.

    10. This whole dispute is about the Republican Party fighting to make sure the working poor don’t have access to affordable health care.

  • Georgino Ludwig says:

    What bothers me most about this whole situation sadly isn’t even what the “Tea Party Republicans” are doing. what bothers me most is the impact their actions are having on average Americans who are starting to learn about politics. Sadly my Fiancee has until recently been non political. Happily it was my influence that got her started on understanding and being involved in politics. Yet her views are conservative. So she is being feed a constant stream of Tea Party justification and demonization of anyone with different political views. And that’s the danger. She’s just the same as the 17 and 18 year old kids just learning about politics and trying to find their voice. They are being shown and told that if they don’t get their way in the future it’s the other sides fault.

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    That’s unfortunate. I think I would find it hard to be with someone who had views so different from mine. There was a man who was interested in dating me, but he’s a Libertarian, believes climate change is bunk, etc. etc. I think he at least believes in evolution, but I could not see a happy outcome even on one date.

  • Ellen says:

    While the 27th Amendment says Congressional pay can’t be increased or reduced until a Congressional election “shall have intervened,” Article 1, Section 6 says that Senators and Representatives shall be paid out of the Treasury, and Section 9 says that no money should be drawn from the Treasury unless there has been an appropriations bill. If they don’t pass one, don’t you think that the Executive has the right to withhold Congressional pay as well as other payments until there is “money in the bank”? A delay is not the same thing as “varying” their compensation, is it? Curious about how you read those interacting sections.

    And, in the grand tradition of “what your definition of ‘is’ is,” the amendment doesn’t say “general election of Representatives,” or even “regularly scheduled election,” so do you think a couple of special elections might satisfy the provision?

    Just ruminating here.

  • rand says:

    Hi Ms. Snodgrass:
    You might find this article interesting. It’s an examination of the origins of the Budget Crisis & who’s funding it.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/us/a-federal-budget-crisis-months-in-the-planning.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&hp

    Very sorry to hear about your illness, but equally glad you’re recovering. Your incredible talent as a writer & intellectual presence in the zeitgeist is desperately needed these days.

  • Georgino Ludwig says:

    the things is, fundamentally we actually hold a lot of the same basic beliefs. both of us place a high value on education, family, and basic human decency. The problem is she hears way too much of the self justification of the far right, and if you don’t know anything else it sounds good and makes sense. She has seen how the system can be abused and manipulated. The thing of it is, when I show her false statements or how things have been selectively edited she usually annoyed with the people reporting the false info. Although she maintains a firm distrust of the “left” which I don’t mind because every know and then it forces me to investigate my own beliefs and the people who should represent them. Open Dialogue is supposed to be what brings this country together. Yes she frustrates me with her attitude sometimes, just like I know I do the same to her. But because we have that common core of interest it seems to work.

    that’s the trick as i see it, having that common core. It’s something that more people in their personal lives and politics need to work on finding. Still yeah some days i’m just not sure she can see past her personal dislike for the Left to separate me from my vote. Then again none of her statements against Democrats or “Liberals” are actually aimed at me.

  • The question of how to educate people who don’t/won’t accept factual evidence is vexing. An ability to critically evaluate claims based upon demonstrable evidence seems to not being instilled into the education system. Not sure how to correct this in either the short or the long term.

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    Kevin asked me if I hear Lawrence O’Donnell’s take on the shutdown last night. I hear some of it, and while he is often correct in his predictions I don’t agree with this analysis. I think much of this is driven by an irrational hatred of the man who is currently in the White House, and a deep hatred and misunderstanding about government as an institution.

    The vitriol that these representatives pour onto “government workers” is so unbalanced and toxic. Government workers are the FEMA guys in Colorado, and the inspector in a meat packing company, and the researcher at CDC, researchers at the national labs. They are our friends and neighbors not some alien species that got dropped onto the country.

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I suspect that religion was some random by-product of mammalian reproduction… a necessary evil in the childhood of our species… but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity? — Arthur C. Clarke (1917 – 2008)

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