OPINION: Washington & Wall Street: Obama Executive Order Threat Recalls FDR's Fascism
Before and during the State of the Union message, President Obama declared that he intended to act by Executive Order to address issues like the economy. He did not mention, as we discussed in the last column, the much of what ails America’s middle class emanates from Washington in terms of deficits and public debt.
“The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress,” Mr. Obama told lawmakers as he reminded them of last year’s damaging government shutdown. Of course, the shutdown of the government was only damaging if you are a liberal Democrat. For most Republicans, shutting down the federal government was cause for joy. My friend Brian Wesbury of FT Advisors puts the heroic tendencies of American liberals in context:
Politicians want to believe the idea of the Keynesian multiplier because they really actually do believe they themselves are bigger than real life. As a result, politicians around the world have elevated Keynes to legendary status even though big government spending has left economic mayhem and poverty strewn everywhere. The latest use of the nutty Keynesian theory was when the US government was partially shut-down in October, 2013. Many argued that an impending shutdown would hurt economic growth in Q3 and then an actual shutdown would send the economy reeling in Q4.
Of course, the government shutdown had no appreciable effect on the US economy, but that does not stop liberals from threatening unilateral action to “help” working people. Republicans criticized the president’s focus on executive action as counterproductive, The New York Times reports. “Circumventing Congress won’t foster job creation and won’t result in economic growth,” said Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
But for Democrats, who must always be seen doing something in order to remain relevant politically, issuing edicts is the preferred route going back to the authoritarian “New Deal” of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Obama stated:
[W]hat I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I am eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still — and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.
Actually, more than half of all Americans embrace limited government and would be happy to see President Obama remain motionless. But the hyper-frenetic Obama cannot sit still, one reason why his poll numbers are so bad. Obama is all about appearance, but with no substance, making him largely ineffectual but dangerous none the less. His compulsion to be seen “doing something” often results in bad decisions.
“Where Congress is debating things and hasn’t been able to pull the trigger on stuff, my administration is going to move forward,” Obama said on January 23 at the White House.
The Obama threats to issue Executive Orders if Congress does not act should reminds us of "Rule by Decree," common in corporatist systems like 1920s Europe and Brazil in the late 1980s, during the transition away from military rule after 1985. The president would sign a decree, and then congress would have 30 days to approve or override it. In the absence of override or any other action by Congress, the decree would become law. Obama’s government by Executive Order is not a far stretch from that scenario and reflects the desire of corporatists everywhere to abandon democratic processes in favor of a unitary, authoritarian and “more efficient” system of government.
Obama Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer reiterated that strategy in an e-mail released by the White House late last week. The president “has a pen and he has a phone, and he will use them to take executive action and enlist every American -- business owners and workers, mayors and state legislators, young people, veterans, and folks in communities from across the country -- in the project to restore opportunity for all,” Pfeiffer said.
These last remarks from Pfeiffer are part and parcel of FDR's National Recovery Administration (NRA), the ultimate corporatist program tried in the USA thus far. Are you "doing your part" the NRA posters asked? But we all need to remember that the corporatist model is anti-democratic, entirely European in derivation and antithetical to basic American values. The New Deal of FDR simply copied the government programs of fascist Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly Mussolini in Italy, Uncle Joe Stalin in the Soviet Union and Adolph Hitler in Germany.
Barack Obama’s threat to government by Executive Order should be welcomed by conservatives since it gives us an opportunity to remind all Americans about the fascist roots of American liberalism. President Obama is not being "forced" to act by Executive Order, as an editorial by The New York Times today argues. He is doing so to try and inject some relevancy into his failed presidency.
Resorting to unilateral action by the White House just reveals the fascist roots of American liberalism (and, to be fair, some Republicans like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who also resorted frequently to Executive Orders). When some politicians cannot prevail at the ballot box, then they embrace authoritarian models better suited to the fascist states of Europe, Asia and Latin America. Americans who love democracy and the rule of law should reject such alien and destructive models of governance and being anti-American.