Monday, January 09, 2006

Why not?

Story

But not all of the noise machine will play ball.

On This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sam Brownback will be asked:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you confident that the administration has acted lawfully in this case?

BROWNBACK: I think we need to hold hearings on it and we’re going to. Both in the intelligence committee, there will be closed hearings and then the judiciary committee will have open hearings.

I think we need to look at this case and this issue. I am troubled by what the basis for the grounds that the administration says that they did these on, the legal basis, and I think we need to look at that far more broadly and understand it a great deal.

I think this is something that bears looking into and us to be able to establish a policy within constitutional frameworks of what a president can or cannot do.
Add Senator Sam "Lifesaving stem cell research is murder" Brownback (Mountain) to the list of people who've gone down the path to Kos-dom.

In a related story,

In 2003, lawmakers tried to get a handle on Bush’s use of signing statements [the virtual line-item vetos discussed previously] by passing a Justice Department spending bill that required the department to inform Congress whenever the administration decided to ignore a legislative provision on constitutional grounds.

Bush signed the bill, but issued a statement asserting his right to ignore the notification requirement.
And therein lies the problem. If we grant the President the power that Judge Alito, Dick Cheney and others have chosen to invent for that office (powers specifically denied him in the text of the Constitution and the Federalist papers), who is authorized to enact any legislation binding the executive branch from acting a certain way, or instructing it to do something?

Why shouldn't the president, in a signing statement, simply declare that all Social Security contributions will now be put in private accounts? Then, when Congress says "no," the president can sign that bill, but use his signing statement to clarify that he doesn't feel bound by Congress's decision.

Now, that hasn't happened, but my question is what formal limits exist in the arguments advanced for signing statements or for Alito-esque presidential power that would prevent it from happening. So far, the defenders of this idea have been unprepared to offer any limits on Presidential power at all.