With President Obama set to precipitate a constitutional crisis over the upcoming debt ceiling, Republicans in Congress must now stand up to the bullying commander in chief.
Yesterday, after the fiscal cliff had been passed through Congress, President Obama claimed victory. “Just recently,” he told supporters, “Republicans in Congress said they’d never agree to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. We’ve now raised those rates, permanently, making our tax code more progressive than it’s been in decades.”
But more important than Obama’s triumphalism was his insistence that he will not – repeat, will not – negotiate over the debt ceiling. At all. “While I will negotiate over many things,” Obama said, “I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed.” Of course, Obama has racked up those bills, and it is he who refuses to pay the freight with any cuts whatsoever. But now he’s declaring the unilateral authority to avoid discussing the debt ceiling. “What the president was saying was, ‘I’m not going to play chicken with the debt limit,'” said Jen Psaki, Obama’s spokeswoman.
Under the Constitution of the United States, the House of Representatives has the power of the purse strings. It is Congress that decides whether or not to incur more debt, not the president. And yet Obama has essentially stated that he will not stand for any negotiation surrounding that Congressional power.
That’s tyrannical. But unlike in the past, the Democrats in Congress are willing to go along with such systemic perversion. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has shown himself quite willing to give Obama unlimited power to raise the debt ceiling.
So the question now is whether Republicans will stand strong against this unconstitutional aggression from President Obama. In 2011, Republicans in Congress caved, and ended up with the pathetic fiscal cliff proposal that set up massive tax increases and an across-the-board cut. Then they made that cave complete in order to avoid those default tax increases.
Now, however, they have a second chance to stand tall. But they will have to stand together, and they will have to hold Obama’s feet to the fire. The issue of the debt ceiling is about more than spending. It is about whether we have a Constitutional system worth preserving, or whether the President should be allowed to run roughshod over it. Speaker of the House John Boehner has been re-elected — and in achieving re-election, he has given himself a second bite at an apple he missed in 2011, during that disastrous debt ceiling debate. The time for compromise is finished. Our thug president ended it. Republicans must realize that, and act accordingly.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, and author of the upcoming book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).