Save Obama Bill

September 13th, 2011

By Dan Miller

Barack Obama

Let’s find out what’s in it before it is voted on.

The Save Obama Bill (SOB) is 155 single spaced pages in length and has more cross references to, and would make more changes in, previously enacted legislation than I could conveniently count. It was obviously a long time in gestation, President Obama obviously did not dash it off while vacationing or when he returned to Washington and, if it is to be rationally analyzed, will require no less time to evaluate. If that is not done, this will be another “pass it to find out what’s in it” moment.

If enacted, it would confer tremendous discretionary authority on various administrative agencies and other entities, some new.  For example, section 4, at pages 4 – 5, is entitled “BUY AMERICAN — USE OF AMERICAN IRON, STEEL, AND MANUFACTURED GOODS.” And that’s what subsection (a) might do.  It provides,

(a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for a project for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public building or public work unless all of the iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States.

However,  there are also subsections (b), (c) and (d).  They provide,

(b) Subsection (a) shall not apply in any case or category of cases in which the head of the Federal department or agency involved finds that—(1) applying subsection (a) would be inconsistent with the public interest; (2) iron, steel, and the relevant manufactured goods are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality; or (3) inclusion of iron, steel, and manufactured goods produced in the United States will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.

(c) If the head of a Federal department or agency determines that it is necessary to waive the application of subsection (a) based on a finding under subsection (b), the head of the department or agency shall publish in the Federal Register a detailed written justification as to why the provision is being waived.

(d) This section shall be applied in a manner consistent with United States obligations under international agreements.

This delegation motif is carried forward throughout the bill, albeit less obviously unless a side-by-side comparison with existing statutes is made; without such comparisons the bill is incomprehensible.  Obviously, such comparisons will require time, energy and competence.  It will be at least as difficult and time consuming to understand and probably change the thing, if only to minimize unforeseen consequences, as it was to write it.

President Obama’s repeated urgings that the bill be passed now, as distinguished from when it has been analyzed adequately, is typically disingenuous.  He said the Congress must “act immediately on his new jobs plan, brandishing a copy of the legislation in the Rose Garden and demanding: ‘No games, no politics, no delays.’”

He sure is trying to play games and politics with it now. On September 13, only one day after he let the Congress have the SOB to study and vote on, he campaigned in Ohio.

Imploring Congress to follow his lead, President Barack Obama on Tuesday lobbied lawmakers to adopt his $450 billion jobs plan, promising it would help an industry of construction workers and rebuild schools in crumbling condition. Said Obama: “My question to Congress is, what on earth are we waiting for?” (emphasis added)

President Obama’s efforts at demagoguery political speeches are not a bill and can’t be enacted. To pass the bill, or various parts of it, without proper evaluation would be a negation of the role of the Congress. A vote on the bill should be neither a popularity contest nor a Republican effort to get President Obama reelected as he apparently desires. I hope the members of Congress are trying to figure out what the bill means and what it would do if enacted.

Were the Congress to obey his command, it would be derelict in the performance of its duties under the Constitution and to the people its members are there to represent. Were the Congress to pass any part of the SOB, without analyzing the whole, it would be similarly derelict because most if not all parts are interdependent.  Yet that is President Obama’s fallback position should the Congress not simply enact the whole thing without bothering to figure out what it means.

The Obama White House is revising its initial unwillingness to negotiate on the president’s job creation plan, saying now that if individual components of the bill came to the president’s desk — as opposed to the bill in its entirety — he would sign them into law.

The new approach opens up the administration to charges that it no longer views the American Jobs Act as a take-it-or-leave-it bill. But in a briefing with reporters Tuesday, senior administration officials insisted President Obama wasn’t backing off his position that he wants the entire bill passed through Congress.

That is not “bipartisan;” it is silly and mendacious partisanship at its finest. It is to be hoped that the Congress will not accept the invitation to join in that silliness.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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One Response to “Save Obama Bill”

  1. Tom Carter |

    Obama’s speech to Congress was a blatant campaign event, and it was highly inappropriate to use a joint session of Congress for that purpose. But I have to say, it was a great speech in theatrical terms. It was only when reflecting on the substance of what he was saying that it became absurd.

    There are ideas in Obama’s “plan” that make good sense. But the key claim that the American Jobs Act is fully funded is a joke. All Obama did was say that he’ll have the “supercommittee” add more to their mandate to cover this son-of-stimulus. Beyond that, everything he wants to do to pay for it amounts to raising taxes in one way or another, and while some of those ideas also make sense, if he doesn’t know by now that tax hikes aren’t going to fly very far, then he’s been smoking some bad dope.

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