December 5, 2021

Obama’s Executive Power Grab

Ben Shapiro: Obama's Executive Power Grab

Ben Shapiro takes a look at President Obama’s troubling grab for power through executive action on everything from immigration to foreign policy and even gun rights.


President Obama believes that the power of the presidency is virtually limitless. On November 20, President Obama announced that he would unilaterally grant executive amnesty for some 4 to 5 million illegal immigrants. To justify doing this without Congress, he offered the following justification:

There are actions that I have the legal authority to take as President – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican Presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and just.

In fact, Obama said he has the magical ability to expand his own powers.

What we’ve done is we’ve expanded my authorities under executive action.

Of course, on no less than 22 previous occasions, President Obama said he didn’t have the authority to grant executive amnesty under the Constitution. That’s because prosecutorial discretion doesn’t extend to handing people work permits. That’s like saying that a prosecutor now has the ability to not only avoid charging a suspect, but can give the suspect a $100 gift certificate to Macy’s.

But now, things have changed, because Congress is mean:

[T]o those Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.

Which makes perfect sense, given the famous “f*** you” clause of Article II of the Constitution, which reads: “If Congress shall not do what the President says, he shall do it on his own, then blame Congress for doing nothing.”

Obama has used the “f*** you” clause many times. When it comes to foreign policy, Obama knows that Congress has the authority to create sanctions, not the president – so he has declared that he will sign an executive agreement to remove the sanctions, and the media report that he will then go to the UN and undermine any future Congressional sanctions.

When it comes to firearms, Obama knows he can’t just destroy the Second Amendment, so he had his Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives attempt to regulate the most common rifle ammunition in the country, before public pressure forced the agency to rethink its position.

When it comes to the internet, Obama knows he can’t get legislation through Congress, so instead, he pressured the Federal Communications Commission, a supposedly independent agency, to regulate the internet. Ajit Pai, an FCC commissioner, said as much:

I’ve gotten a decent amount of criticism for calling it President Obama’s plan, but today, if you look at the Democratic National Committee website, they brag about the fact that ‘the FCC just approved President Obama’s plan for Internet regulation. Well, when the political party that inspired it is taking credit for it, we have to call it what it is … a presidential plan to regulate the Internet.”

When it comes to Iran, Obama knows he can’t pass a treaty through Congress that would scale down sanctions and allow Iran to go nuclear. Instead, he’s pushing through perhaps the most wide-ranging executive agreement in American history, then proclaiming that nobody can change it. The media report that if Congress try to pass sanctions over his veto, Obama could go to the United Nations and get other nations to simply dump the sanctions, making the whole point moot.

So, he’s expanded his treaty authority. He’s expanded his prosecutorial discretion. He’s expanded the regulatory authority of his executive agencies. He’s taken control of independent agencies.

Now the good news is that President Obama says he won’t use this authority for evil. He’ll embody our “common purpose – a higher purpose.” That’s what he says. And his people say that he’s only doing what the American people want anyway.

And that’s comforting. Let’s trust him. After all, he says, “The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures…. It will always be the first and foremost task of the Government to bring about inner consensus with the president’s aims.”

Oh, wait. That was Hitler, assuming total power in 1933 under the Enabling Act. My bad.

The point is that we should always trust great leaders who tell us how they will restrict use of their own executive power. Particularly Obama. We should trust him to limit his power. After all, we trusted him on Obamacare…

Well, bad example. And we trusted him before on executive authority…

Oh, I give up.