Dear President Obama,
It is time to let conservative and Tea Party members of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives leap off the fiscal cliff by themselves. There is no point trying to compromise with them. They do not want to compromise. Let them go. I suspect less ideologically driven members of their party will be glad as well. Just say goodbye.
With tax policy, federal spending, social insurance, and the national debt ceiling being held hostage to radical right-wing Tea Party demands, it is time for what presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt called "bold, persistent experimentation" and executive action to solve the economic crisis facing the nation.Roosevelt argued argued:
"It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach. We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer."
The current economic crisis calls for both bold experimentation and strong executive action. When he took the oath as president of the United States, Obama swore to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" and "to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." There are precedents that President Obama can apply -- precedents established by Presidents from both of the political parties.
In December 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt (Republican) sent an eighteen battle ship "Great White Fleet" around the world in a display of American naval power despite Congressional opposition. Reportedly, when Congress balked at paying for the voyage, Roosevelt taunted his opponents claiming he had enough money to send the fleet into the Pacific and it would be up to Congress to provide the funds to bring it back.
After assuming office in March 1933, Franklin Roosevelt (Democrat) asked Congress to approve New Deal policies and also issued 26 executive orders during the next six months. Executive order 6102 criminalized the hoarding of gold and silver. Roosevelt issued another series of executive orders during the build up to World War II including Executive Order 8802 that outlawed racial discrimination in defense industries.
Abraham Lincoln (Republican) felt the national crisis brought on by the Civil War required extraordinary Presidential power. In a message to Congress in July 1861, he defended unilateral actions including the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
"The whole of the laws which were required to be faithfully executed were being resisted, and failing of execution in nearly one-third of the states ... [W]ould not the official [presidential] oath be broken if the government should be overthrown ...?"
George W. Bush (Republican), following precedents established by President Ronald Reagan (Republican) argued for a unitary executive theory that places all executive authority in the president and disputes congressional efforts to limit presidential action. Bush used "unitary executive theory" to ignore opposition to his administrations treatment of detainees.
Needed: Four Presidential Directives
President Obama should issue a Presidential directive that states while the new income and payroll taxes rates will go into affect on January 1, 2013, the Treasury Department of the federal government is not required to collect the full amount. Instead, because of the national economic doldrums and in an effort to create a more equitable tax policy, on individual incomes under $200,000 and $250,000 for couples, it will continue to withhold taxes at the current rate. However for taxpayers who earn higher than these amounts it will collect taxes at the pre-Bush tax cut rate.
A second directive should state that although the federal government is legally authorized to collect payroll taxes at a new higher rate, because of the sluggish economy, the federal government will continue to withhold payroll taxes at the lower rate. The third directive should continue payment of extended unemployment benefits.
The fourth and most controversial and necessary directive involves the national debt ceiling. Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly thrown temper tantrums threatening to throw the nation into bankruptcy if they do not get their way with lower taxes for the wealthy and slashed government programs and social insurance for everyone else.
As we say in Brooklyn, "FUGGEDABOUTIT!"
There is a relatively simple bypass procedure. If the Republicans in the House of Representatives will not authorize raising the ability of the federal government to borrow funds necessary to operate, authorize the Treasury Department to print more money. New money will allow the federal government to pay its bills and if it does cause some inflation, it will ease the debt burden on homeowners, students, and federal, state, and local governments. That sounds like a "WIN! WIN! WIN!" to me.
The checks and balances and separation of powers written into the United States Constitution are vital principles that are not bypassed lightly. I expect outrage in the House of Representatives and the right-wing media as well as challenges to these directives in the courts. That is fine because maybe the system will start to work. Hopefully the radical right will either stop trying to throw the entire nation off a cliff to spit President Obama or else just get voted out of office. With the fiscal emergency past, executive power can then shrink back into its regular channels and dimensions.