The biggest takeaway in this second historic midterm shellacking of President Obama’s tenure is how much executive lawlessness, recklessness, and incompetence upset voters, across party lines. As I argued in Faithless Execution, although there is insufficient political support for impeaching the president, executive maladministration is a very powerful political issue. We saw that last night.
Voters may want Obama out of office, but they do not want him removed from office. They want him reined in. They want normalcy: a relief from constant crisis that involves a restoration of strong American leadership in the world (which would have a sobering effect on enemies who are now emboldened), and a return to regular governance at home – not monarchical directives to fundamentally transform the country by, for example, unilaterally purporting to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens when over 90 million Americans are out of the workforce.
That being the case, the worst thing Republicans could do is cut a lame-duck deal with the very Democrats the voters have just ousted and the very president the voters have just rebuked to fund through the end of next year the very agenda the voters have just rejected. If they cut the deal, they surrender the constitutional authority to do what voters have entrusted them to do.
Impeachment is plainly not on the table. And Speaker Boehner’s lawsuit against the president, as I observed when it was floated, is such an absurdly ineffective gambit for reining in executive lawlessness that Republicans never even bothered to file it. The incoming Republican majority will have only one way to stop the president: Use the power of the purse to cut off the money Obama needs to do the lawless things the voters are up in arms about.
Republicans will be toast with the people who have empowered them if they now turn around and agree to fund Obamacare, the Homeland Security’s immigration agencies and the Justice Department that refuse to enforce the laws, the IRS that colludes with Democrats to intimidate the Left’s ideological opponents, and all the rest of it. The prattle from GOP leaders that they must show the country they can “govern” is ridiculous. It is not possible for them to “govern” when the chief executive does not faithfully execute the laws they enact. Besides, voters did not elect them to govern – they elected them to stop Obama.
If Republicans join the Democrats who have just been swept out of office to fund the government for the next year, they will be forfeiting the power of the purse. Before it even gets started, the incoming Republican-controlled Congress would be stripped of its last tool to stop executive maladministration.
The lame-duck session is a terrible idea. It is when all the bad stuff that lawmakers were afraid to enact before facing the voters happens. At this point, it probably cannot be called off — the government, as Joel Gehrke has reported, runs out of money on December 11. But Republicans should resist anything other than a short continuing resolution that funds the government until the next Congress takes over in January.
That would not commit the next Congress that voters have just put in Republican hands to any course of action. But it would keep the Republicans’ options open to strip spending authority from the executive branch and pressure Obama to act lawfully. It is the only way they can turn back Obama’s immigration amnesty, his scheme to close Gitmo and move the terrorist detainees into our country, his imposition of ruinous EPA rules on carbon emissions, his attempt to end-run the Constitution’s treaty requirements in capitulating on Iran’s nuclear program, and the rest of his unconstitutional plan to rule by executive order.