Nixon famously insisted that whatever the President does is legal, by definition. Nixon learned otherwise, but only because the media-government complex ousted him from office. Now with media liberal superstar Obama, all bets are off. As John Glaser writes,
“In case you’ve been asleep for the whole of Barack Obama’s first term, here’s one fundamental doctrine that has proven itself to guide his administration: if the President does it, it’s not illegal.”
One example of ignoring law can be seen in the proposed military budget. Obama has officially proposed a budget for what we call “defense.” Benjamin Friedman comments on it for the Cato Institute’s blog:
“That $640.5 billion includes $88.5 billion for war (a.k.a. overseas contingency operations), $526.6 for non-war spending in the Department of Defense, and another $25.4 billion spending outside DoD, mostly for nuclear weapons in the Department of Energy, which officially counts as “national defense” or budget function 050 spending. Those spending levels ignore the budgetary cap set by law and the political reality it reflects. The $552 billion requested in 2014 for non-war “national defense” spending exceeds by $55 billion the spending cap set by the 2011 Budget Control Act, as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.”
Friedman doesn’t object too much to this process. He assumes that Congress is going to make cuts. I could understand that Obama would prefer to propose high and make the Republican-controlled Congress take responsibility for reducing the expenditures to what is possible.
But what is the point of passing a law that can be ignored in the budgetary process? We were all told that the sequester would be devastating if it was passed into law. We were assured that the economy would take a hard hit.
Those horror stories were massively exaggerated, but that is almost disappointing now. If laws are just fictional statements about our financial future that don’t actually affect anyone’s behavior, then why even pass such “laws”? It is completely dishonest to pretend that anything is at stake. No matter what effect a law might have if people followed that law, nothing happens when laws are passed that no one follows or enforces, and that no one intends to follow.
But one thing this points out to us is that Obama is not going to let a mere law limit him in his attempts to expand the military. Obama’s criticisms of George Bush before 2008 were only criticisms of a military under the control of someone other than himself. Now that he is the Commander-and-Chief of the Armed Forces, Obama wants to expand their power because he believes in his own power. After all, if he allows the Pentagon’s budget to get cut, this might limit his ability to arm corrupt governments all over the world and attempt to control them. As Friedman put it, a fundamental reason for the illegal budget proposal is that,
“the administration remains wedded to the liberal internationalist species of the militarist consensus that sees U.S. military power as the linchpin to global stability, trade, and liberalization.”
You know, just like Obama bragged about how he changed Libya.