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The Next Prez - And the Obama Way, Kim Strossel, WSJ, 11/20/14

Prosecutorial discretion? OK, how about not enforcing the 73,954 pages of tax code?

kimberly_strossel.jpegDate: Jan. 21, 2017

To: POTUS

From: Your loyal and determined GOP advisers

Re: Your First 100 Days.

 Hey Boss!

Congrats again (and fab party last night). Eight long years, and a Republican is finally back behind the Resolute desk. Pity about the Senate; Harry Reid is already vowing to shut the place down again. We put your chances of getting your agenda through that chamber in the range of slim to snowball.

But we’ve been thinking. Yes, the Constitution matters—Article I, Article II, blah, blah—though let’s be honest: What really counts in this town is precedent. And the ace news is that your predecessor blew up about 230 years of it. We’ve attached an 87-page list (check your spam box) of President Obama ’s unilateral actions: altering the ObamaCare statute; refusing to enforce federal drug laws; granting waivers to education reforms; using Justice Department suits to impose new industry rules; drafting agency regulations to go around Congress. Don’t forget 2014, when he rewrote federal immigration law. Like, all of it. By himself.

And here’s where it gets sweet. 

We’ve been analyzing the Obama team’s justifications. Some are p-r-e-t-t-y creative, but they boil down to this: Whenever a law is “unworkable,” or inadequately “funded”—and Congress won’t do anything—the president gets to act! How is that for new precedent? Think about it. This city has yet to produce a single statute or reg that is “workable” or that has, according to Democrats, enough money. Not a one. Remember that old Imagine Dragons tune, “I’m On Top of the World”? That’s you, boss. That’s you.

So here’s our plan for getting your entire agenda done—all of it!—by May:

Prosecutorial discretion: Love this. Your top item? Cutting taxes. We have two words and one number for you: Tax Code, 73,954 pages. Is there a more unworkable law? ROFL! We’ve got an executive order ready instructing IRS agents not to enforce the code on any person or company who refuses to pay more than our new rates. Goodbye Alternative Minimum Tax, death tax, capital gains, restrictions on nonprofits. Hello, flat tax on a postcard.

Speaking of taxes, do remember to thank Chief Justice John Roberts for declaring the ObamaCare individual mandate a tax. Not enforcing that one, either! That’s O-Care repealed. Check. You ran on reducing the regulatory burden. We’re sending a list of rules under major laws that you can instruct agencies and the Justice Department to no longer uphold. You know, the damaging stuff buried in the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Labor Relations Act, Dodd-Frank, McCain-Feingold. All unworkable!

We’re also readying a memo for the Justice Department, listing areas in which it should forgo suits for federal violations: Title IX, voting rights, affirmative action, wages and overtime. It’s not like anyone can “make” us do anything. Ask all those marijuana smokers in Alaska.

Waivers: You ran on fixing the debt, by fixing entitlements. Done. You know all those states getting waivers to experiment with Medicaid or welfare? Smart, but small. We’re thinking that with an elastic enough reading of laws, we can waive our way out of an entitlement system altogether. Medicaid vouchers? Child’s play. Did you know the Social Security Act allows sweeping waivers to its programs in the case of a national emergency? We so feel a national emergency coming on. A big one. Long—four years, maybe eight. Don’t laugh. Mr. Obama made anything conceivable.

Agencies: Justice now has time on its hands, so we’re setting up a task force to bring criminal charges against slippery characters (folks who, bonus, Americans love to hate): trial firms, union shops. Obama showed with his banking and BP BP.LN -1.04%suits that if we go big and ugly, we won’t even have to test legal theories; the targets will roll, and agree to new restrictions. That’s tort and labor reform done. And we’re already directing your agencies to start authorizing moves that Congress won’t: drilling off the East Coast and in ANWR; health insurance across state lines; school vouchers. Sky’s the limit! What the last guy showed is that the federal architecture is now so complex that you can always find a loophole. Look at his climate program. (BTW, we are shutting that down. Today.)

Is any of this constitutional? Meh. (Shred this memo.) We suppose you could ask legal advice, but Obama was certainly never that dumb. Here was his epiphany: Nobody can really stop a president. Congress can only complain. The judiciary moves too slowly to make a difference (look at Obama’s illegal recess appointments). Turns out the only thing that ever really restrained the chief executive was that oath he took. Our side has always taken that seriously. Hmmm.

We know you ran on restoring the Constitution, and the other side is counting on your base holding you to that. What they don’t understand is plenty of our people would be equally happy to see you stick it to them. We could do the right thing; arguably should.

Then again, who will they be to complain if we don’t?

Respectfully, Your Team.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

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The Next Prez - And the Obama Way, Kim Strossel, WSJ,
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