Last Updated:November 30 @ 05:13 pm

Barone: Obama's Gangster Government Operates Above the Law

By Michael Barone

Presidents' State of the Union addresses are delivered in the chamber of the House of Representatives in the Capitol. The classical majesty of this building where laws are made symbolizes the idea that we live under the rule of law.

Unfortunately, the 44th president is running an administration that too often seems to ignore the rule of law.

"We can't wait," Barack Obama took to saying after the Republicans captured a majority in the House and refused to pass laws he wanted. He would act to get what he wanted regardless of law.

One example: his recess appointments in January 2012 of three members of the National Labor Relations Board and the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled unanimously that the NLRB recess appointments were unconstitutional.

The decision, written by Judge David Sentelle, noted that the Constitution speaks of "the recess," not "a recess," and reasoned that it could only be referring to the recess between annual sessions of Congress.

Obama, like many presidents before him, interpreted the phrase as referring to any recess during which Congress is not in session. But he went one step further.

When Harry Reid became Senate majority leader in 2007, he started holding pro forma meetings of the Senate every three days and stating that the Senate was not in recess. George W. Bush, who had made recess appointments before, stopped doing so.

Bush took the view that, since the Constitution says that each branch of Congress makes its own rules, the Senate was in session if the Senate said so. Obama took the view that he would decide whether the Senate was in session. Who cares what the Constitution says?

As Sentelle pointed out, Obama's view would entitle the president to make a recess appointment any time the Senate broke for lunch. "This cannot be the law," the judge wrote.

Critics of his decision argue that under it the recess appointment power would be vanishingly small. But under Obama's view, the Senate's power to advise and consent could effectively vanish.

The Framers contemplated that the Congress would take long recesses (as for many years it did) and that it could take months for senators to return to Washington to act on appointments.

It's plausible that the Framers would have considered recess appointments unnecessary in an era of jet travel. It's not plausible that they would have approved of getting rid of the Senate's power to vote on appointments altogether.

Meanwhile, decisions of the NLRB and the CFPB are in legal limbo, pending a Supreme Court decision. Hundreds of thousands of people and are affected and millions of dollars are at stake. There is a price for not observing the rule of law.

There are other examples. For several years, the Obama administration has refused to obey a law requiring the president's budget to be submitted on a certain date. As Budget Director, Treasury nominee Jack Lew refused to obey the law requiring him to issue a report in response to the trustees' report on Medicare.

During the 2012 campaign, the Pentagon told defense contractors not to inform employees that they may be laid off if the sequester took effect as required by the WARN Act.

They were even told that the government would pay any fines for not complying. What law authorizes that?

Similarly, Health and Human Services has stated that the federal government can fund health insurance exchanges run by the feds for states that refuse to create their own exchanges. But nowhere does the Democrats' hastily crafted Obamacare legislation say that.

In spring 2009, we got our first glimmers of this modus operandi. In arranging the Chrysler bankruptcy, administration officials brushed aside the rights of secured creditors in order to pay off the United Auto Workers.

University of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel pointed out that this violated the standard rules of bankruptcy law established, interestingly, during the New Deal.

"We have just seen an episode of gangster government," I wrote at the time. "It is likely to be a continuing series."

It looks like that's one prediction I got right. This president, like all his predecessors since Woodrow Wilson started delivering these speeches in person, looks magnificent in the temple where laws are made. But he doesn't seem to consider himself bound by them.


Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



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  1. my04301933Comment by my04301933
    February 14, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

    Mr. Barone: I’d like to be able to comprehend why our current Congress which has a majority G.O.P. demonstrates a shocking complacency on all these unlawful acts of the executive office.

    I am led to suspect that the G.O.P. leadership is either in bed with the unlawful criminal who sits inn the Oval Office, afraid of doing anything to make waves, is EXTREMELY WEAK in character and respect for those whom it represents…OR

    They too are embracing the march to Socialism and subsequent dictatorship.

    If I’m incorrect in these suspicions…

    Then just what the hell IS going on?

    Hell, even Clinton was Impeached for lying and his extra curricular activities

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    • betsybComment by betsyb
      February 14, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

      I agree…the GOP has to be complicit, or they should have already started impeachment. So, what IS going on? We’re on the way to further downsizing our military (while giving F16′s and tanks to Egypt-friend of Iran), getting rid of nukes (while other countries slide), betraying the Constitution in countless ways, NO budget (which negates the role of Congress), etc.,… When you write to your congressman, they write some nebulus, whispy thing back about how they respect our country, blah, blah….

      Is it true, we’ve so completely sold out to China? or the Middle East? Brennan is Muslim (NOT being reported during his review, not even by Fox). How is it we cooperate and entertain in the White House the Muslim Brotherhood?…so blatantly connected to terrorism. We used to ban travel and mail to terrorist countries, w/a policy of no-negotiating, no funding, and NOW we’re practically throwing parties for them and giving them weapons and helping them overthrow governments. WHAT? Is anyone left out there in D.C., the Pentagon, the Military academies……ANYBODY?! Have you all been turned?

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      February 14, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

      I also agree because I have contact my representatives and demanded to know why they refuse to even discuss impeachment. The only response received was that “it is a TALL order”. It is inexcusable that the people elected to represent US and take care of the nation’s business have allowed this group of gangsters to take over and run wild. Whenever any of them are asked about any incident, none of them claim they were even aware of it.

      I really think ALL the politicians are in bed with each other and the only way we are going to get our country back and get rid of these gangsters is the same way Elliott Ness and his group took care of the problem.

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    • nmleonComment by nmleon
      February 14, 2013 @ 7:39 pm

      The Impeachment option isn’t viable. Reps could indict with a simple majority in the House, but it would be impossible to get a 2/3 majority to vote for conviction in Dingy Harry’s Senate. As we know from the trial of Slick Willie, even felony perjury in federal court isn’t enough to bring the Dems to honorable behavior.

      Executive action could be overturned by a vote in both houses of Congress, but again, it would never get past Dingy Harry.

      The only viable option left is to challenge the action in court, as was done here.

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    • agent007Comment by agent007
      February 15, 2013 @ 8:03 am

      While nmleon is correct in his statement that Obama impeachement procedures would not lead to success in the Senate, where the Democrats have the majority, I do believe that the House SHOULD indict Obama, Holder and Reid for the violations against the Constitution and other laws committed over the past 4 years.
      It will make it clear to the US population what is going on, and that the GOP is no longer taking this laying down!
      Yes it will only be a symbolic attempt at impeachment, but something needs to be done to clarify to the population how low the Democrat Party has sunk!

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  2. steven LComment by steven L
    February 14, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

    If I was Pr. O, I would cooperate more with the Republicans to jump-start the economy but change dramatically the Tax code in order not to allow anybody to make billions of $. That is obscene and cruel. Bonuses in any shape or form should be taxed immediately, no deferment should be allowed etc. Above a certain income most benefits should be reduced and eliminate for the super rich (to be defined).
    Lobbying should not be authorized for anyone working in and for the Congress for a minimum of 5 years. Likewise individuals should not be allowed to jump back and forth between govt jobs and Wall Street and other type of “industries”. No one should have 2 hats etc… . White collar’s crimes should have more severe penalties since they usually affect hundreds if not thousands or millions of people.

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    • FreeDameComment by FreeDame
      February 14, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

      I agree, the tax code needs to be changed. Or more, accurately, it needs to be eliminated, and replaced with a flat, national sales tax. That would, among other things, eliminate the government’s intrusive inquiries into our business (it’s nobody’s business how much I earn,) and also get rid of the monster, dollar-gobbling IRS.

      But as far as eliminating benefits for the “super rich,” who gets to define that? You? How about we eliminate entitlements altogether, let private charities do their work, reward personal responsibility, and force the government back into its Constitutional restraints. That would fix the economy faster than anything.

      “Don’t blame CAPITALISM for problems caused by CORRUPT GOVERNMENT.”

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  3. FreeDameComment by FreeDame
    February 14, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

    In his SOTU address, Obummer flat told us that if Congress won’t pass the laws he wants, or is “too slow” about it, he will implement everything he wants by Executive Order, particularly as relates to “climate change.” (That alone will bankrupt the country. Or would, if “entitlements” hadn’t already done it.)

    The only explanation I can see for the GOP not having started impeachment proceedings LONG ago, or at the very least after this lastest SOTU speech, is that they are fully on board with this march to Statism.

    And I agree with betsyb, writing to your congress-critter is a total waste of time. They do whatever they want, knowing that they have a 95% chance of getting re-elected, no matter how horrible they are. Which only proves just how uninformed the average voter really is.

    God help us.

    PS: Fox is running to the Left faster than I ever thought possible. The only place left for independent news is the internet.

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  5. fedupwithbadgovComment by fedupwithbadgov
    February 14, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

    One might suspect that the reason Congress doesn’t act on any movement toward impeachment proceedings is that they would expose the illegitimacy of Obama’s qualifications to even BE the POTUS. They would have to expose those who confirmed his qualifications to run for the office that has clearly defined requirements and for once, they would have to admit their complicity in the placement of someone who was/is totally ineligible to be our President from day one.

    Another issue would surface in the process. If Obama were to be deemed unqualiified and ineligible, then removed from office because of the invalidation of his qualification to BE President, would that mean that all the Bills, Executive Orders, and actions would also be invalidated? Certainly something to ponder.

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    • Cape ConservativeComment by Cape Conservative
      February 14, 2013 @ 9:21 pm

      I’ll go along with the exposure of all who were complicit in qualifying him – Nancy P would be the first name on my wish list!

      As GWB has often said, let history judge him. Well, I do NOT see history judging the current POTUS very well…I just hope and pray our country survives his term in office.

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  6. empty pocketsComment by empty pockets
    February 15, 2013 @ 7:21 am

    I can only conclude no Bill of Impeachment has been offered because of a severe lack of spine. Nmleon is correct that Redi would quash it. But he has also quashed every budget passed in the House and offered no alternative…yet the House still does its job.

    They seem to fear “backlash”…the bogeyman in the closet. Charges of racism? Bank on it. Being called hyper partisan? Already happening. Civil unrest? That, too, already happening increasingly.

    The real problem is FEAR. They each took the job, spent a great deal of money, time and energy to get the job.

    Now, DO the job, even if it seems hopeless. Doing nothing makes them complicit.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      February 15, 2013 @ 9:19 am

      “I can only conclude no Bill of Impeachment has been offered because of a severe lack of spine. Nmleon is correct that Redi would quash it.”

      The House can file articles of impeachment on Obama. If they vote to impeach him, Harry Reid can not “quash it” because the Constitution calls for a trial in the Senate with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sitting as judge. If Harry Reid tried to interfere he could also be impeached by the House, and then he would be tried in the Senate with the Chief Justice on the bench.

      Reid yields a lot of power but there are things he can’t control IF the Republicans would do their job. Under the Constitution, ONE person can not stop an impeachment proceeding.

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  7. gimmesometruthComment by gimmesometruth
    February 15, 2013 @ 9:29 am

    Mr. Barone didn’t even touch upon ALL the UN resolutions that Obama has signed onto without Congressional approval. Our national sovereignty is being dissolved and rolled into the NWO.

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  8. boggieComment by boggie
    February 19, 2013 @ 4:04 am

    When God fearing, law abiding people are deprived of their inalienable right to self defense by their Government they will become outlaws of the land; protected by a higher law ordained by God. These fools that think they can operate by laws not ordained by God will never prevail. God will frustrate their efforts and when they are gone. He will restore the mistakes they made by putting everything right again. It will only take one God fearing president to undo all the folly of these idiots.

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