Are we in danger of an imperial presidency? I just can’t seem to pin down the liberal line on that question. Many of the liberal voices that were shrieking “wolf” when President George W. Bush was in office now employ the same tongues in enthusiastic presidential boot-licking, kowtowing before the White House and offering craven support for every whim of presidential ambition.
Case in point: former Forbes.com columnist, Bruce Bartlett. He asserts that Obama is legally permitted, under a bizrre interpretation of the 14th Amendment, to ignore the Congressional debt ceiling set by statute. His columns on this topic have granted Bartlett semi-divine status on MSNBC and the ultimate digital apotheosis for ex-conservatives, a column addressing this topic published on the New York Times web site.
On behalf of the executive branch’s alleged unlimited borrowing power, we have not arguments, but rather wishes — or simply will. This is the will-to-power vs. the Constitution.
Such an understanding of the separation of powers would do more than roll us back to the days before 1776. After all, King George did not claim the right to ignore Parliament in his borrowing. No king after the beheaded Charles I claimed such a right. The battle of Runnymede was fought over just this issue. The Magna Charta was the pact that took from the King the right to tax or to borrow unilaterally. Bartlett et al would not roll us back 236 years to colonial status, but rather 800 years to serf status.