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Pat Buchanan
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Why Congress Is Held in Contempt

Comment

"I've got a pen," said President Obama early this week.

"I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions ... that move the ball forward."

"When I can act on my own without Congress, I'm going to do so," the president added Wednesday at North Carolina State.

Thus did Obama signal that he will bypass Congress and use his executive powers to advance his agenda of national transformation.

This dismissal of Congress has gone almost unprotested. In an earlier age it might have evoked talk of impeachment. But not now.

For though Congress may be the first branch of government in the Constitution, with the longest list of enumerated powers in Article 1, its eclipse has been extraordinary.

Congressional powers have eroded or been surrendered. The esteem in which Congress is now held calls to mind Emily Dickinson: "It dropped so low in my regard/I heard it hit the ground."

Congress boasts a 13 percent approval, a surge from its all-time low of 9 percent last fall before the budget deal.

While ex-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed disappointment in Obama and Hillary Clinton in his book "Duty," and was dismissive of Joe Biden, his view of Congress dripped with venom:

"Uncivil, incompetent in fulfilling basic constitutional responsibilities (such as timely appropriations), micromanagerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned, often putting self (and reelection) before country — this was my view of the majority of the United States Congress."

At Congressional hearings, Gates says he was "exceptionally offended by the constant, adversarial, inquisition-like treatment," and lines of inquiry that were "rude, insulting, belittling, bullying, and all too often personal."

Admirers of Obama, Hillary and Biden have all come forward to defend them. Where are the defenders of Congress from this searing indictment by Gates? Almost nowhere.

What happened to Congress? Not so long ago, school children were taught more about Sens. Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster than many of the presidents of that pre-Civil War era.

High among the causes of Congress' decline has surely been the loss or surrender of its constitutional powers — to presidents, the Supreme Court and a federal bureaucracy Congress itself created.

Consider this. Under Article 1, Congress is entrusted with the power to "regulate commerce with foreign nations."

With the exception of slavery, there was not a more divisive issue before the Civil War than the tariff question.

In the Jacksonian era, South Carolina almost seceded over the tariff, and Andrew Jackson threatened an invasion.

Today, Congress first surrendered to the executive the authority to negotiate trade deals, and then passed fast track, denying itself the right to amend those treaties. Congress has restricted itself to a yes or no vote on what the executive negotiates.

The transnational corporations that finance campaigns are delighted.

But as a consequence of NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO, a third of U.S. manufacturing jobs and a huge slice of our manufacturing base have been shipped overseas, and we have run $10 trillion in trade deficits since Bush I.

The stunning industrial decline of the United States has been matched in two centuries only by the USSR.

Congress was granted the power to "coin money" and "regulate the value thereof." But in 1913, Congress transferred that power to the Federal Reserve.

With the Fed as its steward, the dollar's purchasing power had fallen to that of a couple of pennies in 1913. And the Fed was responsible for the stock market bubble that bought on the Great Crash of 1929 and Great Depression, and the real estate and stock market bubbles that brought on our own Great Recession.

Yet, the Fed is untouchable.

Though Congress was granted exclusive power "to declare war," our last declared war was in 1941.

Obama today draws "red lines" and tells nations not to cross them or we bomb, and announces to the world that, in dealing with Iran, "all options are on the table," meaning war.

But when did Congress authorize Obama to wage war on Iran? Never.

Nor did Congress authorize Bill Clinton to bomb Serbia.

While Congress was granted the power in the Constitution to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, that court has been on an ideological tear, remaking America without a nod to Congress.

The court has created new rights for criminal suspects out of thin air. It ordered all states to integrate public schools, even if that meant forced busing by race across cities. It declared abortion and homosexual relations to be constitutionally protected rights.

Congress often complained, but almost always did nothing.

Congress has behaved more timidly than the Court, whose justices serve for life. And unlike the president, Congress cannot act decisively or speak with a single voice. It's a cacophony.

Sundered by party and ideology, with 535 members, and rules and regulations that inhibit decisions and impede action, Congress appears a 19th-century anachronism at sea in a 21st-century world.

Who looks to Congress today as the bulwark of our liberties?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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Comments

19 Comments | Post Comment
"Congress shall declare war" U.S. Constitution.One of the simplest statements in the Constitution.Congress failed in its duty long ago with the War Powers Act.It gave its job to the Executive Branch.It did this because those politicians in Congress no longer bear the political cost of making a decision.They merely point at a President and let him take the blame.And its usually blame.This failure of Congress is the reason America has had a series of devisive,useless wars.Who or what will hold Congress responsible for its job?Apparently nobody.
Comment: #1
Posted by: WILLIAM KELLEY
Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:34 PM
Yep, Congress is rotten to the core, and so is Gates, who surely would sell one of his kidneys if he could get the right price for it.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Masako
Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:18 PM
"High among the causes of Congress' decline has surely been the loss or surrender of its constitutional powers ó to presidents,...".
You can bet your bippy they will re-assert when a Republican is elected. And, that will happen with the full and complete support of all democRATS and RINOmccain,RINOlindsaygraham, RINOmcconnell and RINOrubio, unless we get shed of ayy RINOs in the next election. Simple.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Tom Murrell
Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:44 AM
So what else is new? Mark Twain long ago (and with deadly accuracy) said that "America has no natural criminal class - except Congress." That's even truer today than it was in his day.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Webley Silvernail
Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:41 AM
Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts. -- Lord Acton
We are to believe that 535 "representatives" at the federal level can represent 320,000,000 citizens.
There is too much power concentrated in too few. And it is definitely corrupt. (NSA, IRS, JustUS and State for example)
As it currently exists, Washington DC and the federal government should be dismantled.
Then, maybe we can get back to being the United States of America.
Washington, DC and the federal government is *** NOT *** the United States of America.
WE ARE!!!
Have a nice day...
Comment: #5
Posted by: Confucius
Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:53 PM
Does anyone doubt that we'd be better off as a Nation if Pat Buchanan had been elected in 2000?
The Congress, particularly the House, is supposed to be the voice of the People. Likewise, the entirety of the Federal Government, if Lincoln's words are to be given merit, is supposed to be "of the People, by the People, for the People..." It seems we've become quite the self loathing lot, if we're rating what is supposed to be the body that represents our own voice as dismally as 9%. But what can you do? What can I do? What can groups of us do? This issue is now systemic. I try to be optimistic, but It's all pretty bleak.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Ib Snooker
Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:28 PM
Re: Masako - My guess is that Gates has already been paid off.. by Hillary Clinton and I expect he's been promised a position of power in her administration. His book pretty much destroyed any presidential ambitions Biden may have had and his admiration and defense of all things Clinton knows no bounds. Well, at least we won't have to wait to see who the next president will be. Its pretty obvious she's already been chosen.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Dena
Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:58 PM
Far too many members of Congress value their re-election and party mantra over Country; those "lifers" in the political establishment begin to believe that they are the only ones fit to rule rather than represent their constituents. What member of the privileged Congressional "club" would be willing to forfeit their assumed role as the ruling elite to pursue impeachment proceedings against the first "black president", knowing that his/her job would be at stake? The lucrative Congressional path to riches is impossible to turn loose, and one cannot go from US Senator to flipping burgers, after all. Clearly, term limits are a must.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Fisher
Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:59 PM
Re: Dena. I think there are six points here I have to say yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, and yup to. Even so, I doubt Hillary gets it. She's got some powerful negative karma that keeps getting in the way.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Masako
Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:18 PM
Re: Tom Murrell
Get real ... We lost our country a long time ago. You better learn to manage with change, nothing new here. move on.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Yuccef
Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:55 PM
Face the facts. We are governed by the largest group of white collar gangsters since the USSR's mob. They line their own pockets, absolve themselves from accountability and sneer at the "rubes" that continue to re elect them. And all the while, we the people, sleep the long sleep of national death. The America of my youth is far gone, and soon to be forgotten; replaced by a fascist statism that has the morals and ethics of an alley cat, and the intellect of a slug. It's beyond a Karma, it is a divine judgment and a great sadness. The slave masters have won because the people have willed to have it so--it is easier to sleep in slavery than to work in freedom.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Tom Comella
Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:08 AM
Let's face it. Obama owns the GOP. They are his lapdogs as much as the Democrats and sit on their paws begging for a bone.
Comment: #12
Posted by: jimmy rouse
Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:48 AM
Re: Tom Murrell that is provided a republican is ever elected president again. Once amnesty is law, that will be the final nail in the COP coffin.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Nexus974
Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:12 AM
Nothing unusual, really. This is following the natural course of all endeavors at government.
History is littered with the ruins of nations/governments that grew so corrupt and oppressive that they had to be taken down.
Every form of government is born in blood and revolution...monarchies, democracies, republics, dictatorships... and they all die in blood and revolution. ...eventually.
It has always been that way and it will always be that way.
"The tree of liberty...".etc...etc...
Comment: #14
Posted by: B.Ronson
Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:30 AM
Re: Webley Silvernail
Was it he or WIll Rogers who said "The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get any worse every time congress meets".
Comment: #15
Posted by: B.Ronson
Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:34 AM
The Congress supposedly represents the people, that's us. With the internet and other modern communication devices, the congress may not be as necessary as it once was. These day's we can easily speak for ourselves and let our voices be heard. Maybe we should start thinking about a better or more representative system based on the "tools" that are now available.
Comment: #16
Posted by: William Bellah
Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:26 PM
Does no one remember that the Framers loathed political parties? That they used words like "poison", "disease", "taint" "pervert", and many similar words to describe the effects of political parties upon a republic?
Read my new book; The whole theme is summarized in the title:
THE RIGHT TO NOMINATE - Will Restore the Original Design of the American Constitution
and END party Control of Our Government.
Why do we allow 2 private clubs to tell us who we can vote for, by controlling the nomination of candidates?? The Right to Nominate belongs to the People. When the people have a Constitutional mechanism to exercise this Right, then the parties' monopoly is finished. Party government has failed, as the Framers (who did their best to prevent it) knew it would.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Thomas Peterson
Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:22 PM
What has been happening in, and to, our society has been going on for decades. I believe, based on many conversations I've had, that Independent, knowledgeable, insightful, foresightful, etc. moderates have been aware of this all along, but because of the intense pressure to be "politically correct" they kept silent, for justifiable fear of some type of retribution. The problem with moderates is that they are so damn moderate. Extremists and ideologues are by nature extremely aggressive, arrogant, narcissistic, and, of course destructively ignorant. It is my strong belief that this will not change, that the decline and fall of the U.S. will continue. I also believe that this is a devolutionary course, outside of conscious human control. If it is any solace, the Americans can take comfort in the fact that this has happened throughout the course of world civilization.
Tragically, the worst of all worlds will not befall us, but our descendants, our children, grandchildren, and so on for generations to come.
On the other hand, the only possible alternative I can think of, is the rise of a truly great statesman, in charge of a benign, authoritarian government, forcing citizens to do what is necessary to revert back to what we had been in the past. Of course that probably will not happen because it would involve great sacrifice which people do not want to have any part of.
There is really only one solution for the individual and family; emigrate. It has already begun!
Obviously I could go on and on and on.....
Comment: #18
Posted by: oldetimer
Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:37 PM
For all of the above reasons our nation must strive to elect more independents / third party candidates AND demand of those newly elected that they pledge to enact term limits. Also, the law must prohibit one IN federal office from running for another, unless they first resign from their current seat (re-election for same office OK). They should extend House terms, from 2 to 4 years (House member are on now perpetual re-election mode). Finally, 3 terms in House = 12 years, then up to Senate or OUT. Max 2 terms in Senate, then up to Cabinet, other federal position, or OUT. Must serve full 20 years in Congress to get vested retirement - just like Military!!! In all other respects threat them like Federal employees re. eligibility for Thrift Savings plan, other benefits, social security w/holding, taxes, etc. This, incidentally, is the platform that I will one day soon be running under.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Lorraine Barlett
Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:47 PM
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