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Executive Orders

By Ken Poland
January 19, 2013

Executive Decisions – What is an executive decision? Who makes executive decisions?

If you have the privilege of choosing which shirt or pair of socks you are going to wear today, you will make an executive decision. That’s kind of fundamental and simple isn’t it? Who gave you the privilege of making that decision? Most likely your mother was the first person with the authority to make an executive decision to let you make a decision of your own, based on your level of maturity. The truth is, every human being has some level of executive privilege to make decisions.

Age, race, gender, and wealth have been issues through out the recorded history of mankind. And, I will predict that those classifications, in vary forms, will continue to be issues.

Now, let’s get a little more serious about the perceived problem of our President making executive decisions. Is he the first president to make executive decisions? Our forefathers established a Democratic Republic form of government consisting of three branches. Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The constitution details how those branches work to protect the people living under the protection of that government. And, to be quite honest, there has always been some disagreement between those branches and the people as to limits and responsibilities. Partisan politics has been with us from the very beginning.

President Truman issued the executive order that sent the atomic bombs to Japan. Who decided to authorize our military involvement in Korea? Who authorized our involvement in Vietnam? Involvement in Korea and Vietnam became more and more involved and costly, as time went on. Congress never bothered to declare war, they left the constitutional authority vested in the Executive Branch of our government to begin or end those involvements. Sure, we had extensive discussion and passionate argument about the parameters of that ‘constitutional authority’. We survived both situations without civil war destroying our United States. We are still arguing about why and how we got involved. We are still arguing about whether the Executive (Supreme Commander) was aggressive enough or too aggressive. A pretty high percentage of our population, today, were not born yet or were too young to have any first hand knowledge or interest in the politics surrounding those events. Trust me, today’s media (left or right) are not reliable sources of historical data, or even present data. Funding sources and political agendas have a way of distorting factual data. Winners write history and that account of history usually prevails for several generations, right or wrong.

A much more recent example of controversial Executive Decisions were made by Presidents Bush 1 and Bush 2. Bush 1 made an executive decision to stop the aggression of Iraq on their neighbor. He may have conferred with his political allies in congress, but the decision and order was his. He gave the order to withdraw the troops, in spite of the ‘war hawks’ objections, in his Administration. Bush 2 made an executive decision to invade Iraq in search of weapons that were never found. Oh yes, he had the tacit approval of congress, based on fallacious documentary evidence. He made executive decisions to fund that endeavor without explicit dollar authorizations or limits from congress. Congress didn’t make provisions for funding the Bush 2 decision, so Pres. Bush exercised his executive privilege to authorize unfunded warrants (deficit spending ?) to finance his program. I’m not an authority on the ‘so called’ Bush tax cuts. But whether congress officially wrote all the details and authorizations or not, his Executive Branch was responsible for writing the regulations and executing the tax cuts.

Executive orders are a fact of life, so quit whining. The majority electorate voted for Barrack Obama for president. Whether our President is Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Mormon or even Muslim, if he is duly elected to that office, he will make executive decisions. Had Mitt Romney won the election he would be issuing executive orders. He had an extensive list of promised executive orders he would issue on his first day. Some of those would have been in direct defiance of previous congressional actions.

President Obama did not give congress a raise, by executive order. Congress voted themselves an automatic raise several years ago, unless rescinded by formal vote. That usually keeps it from being a hot topic of discussion. The Treasury Department is a part of the Executive Branch and disperses the funds. Sometimes they don’t disperse all the funds authorized and all Administrations have, at one time or another, dispersed funds that weren’t authorized or didn’t meet the intended use as authorized by Congress. Giving the congressmen their raise this year was, in fact, the intention of the bill specifying raises that was passed several years ago.

And incidentally, I don’t think a rag tag militia of civilians bearing an assortment of weapons and varying levels of skill or judgment in how and when to use them is going to guarantee the success of our Democratic Republic to exist for another couple hundred years. Informal ‘rag tag’ organizations don’t qualify as ‘well regulated’.

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