Monday, December 26, 2011

Signing Statements

by Richard Crews
Isn't it wonderful the way Presidential Signing Statements--largely invented by Ronald Reagan but raised to an art form by G.W. Bush--have come back, in Obama's hands, to bite the Republicans in the ass?

Signing statements, written when a president signs a bill, indicate the president's objections--constitutional, political, or just rhetorical--to sections of the bill. It means that the Executive branch of the government--the only branch with any significant "just do it" ability--is not going to "do" much of anything about that particular wrinkle of the legislation.

As the New York Times said in March, 2009, "Mr. Bush ... broke all records, using signing statements to challenge about 1,200 sections of bills over his eight years in office, about twice the number challenged by all previous presidents combined...."

But Obama definitely got the message. He's issued quite a few signing statements: "Well now, let's see...I think that provision...and that provision...and that provision in this bill are unconstitutional, so I'll tell the Executive Branch to hold off on implementing them. Of course, if the Supreme Court decides (over the next several years) that any of those provisions ARE constitutional, I'll reconsider."

This is just another example of why we need a serious revamp of the federal government. For example, we should get rid of--
(1) lobby-driven legislation,
(2) the filibuster,
(3) the electoral college,
(4) campaign finance by corporations and the richest 1%,
(5) congressional graft (pork, insider trading, lobbying "retirement," etc.),
(6) convoluted revenue stream (the Income Tax Code represents "institutionalized corruption"),
(7) ad hoc accounting (for, example, during the G.W. Bush administration over a trillion dollars of spending--like two expensive wars--didn't make it onto the government's books)
(8) excessive government secrecy ("sunshine is the best disinfectant")
(9) legislated morality (including a "war" on drugs and mandatory minimum sentences--the U.S. locks up a higher percentage of its citizens than ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, including Russia, China, and Iran)
(10) and--last, but not least--signing statements.