Now In Charge Of Congress, GOP Plans To Give Up Its Own Constitutional Powers To The Obama Administration

from the say-what-now? dept

As you’ve probably heard, the Republicans decisively took control over Congress in the election on Tuesday, and are now strategizing on exactly what plan they’ll choose to try not to mess things up too badly by the time the 2016 elections come around. The Washington Post has a short segment on the “quick votes” the GOP is planning for January to show that rather than blocking everything, it can actually pass some stuff — including “fast track” legislation on trade agreements:

With the 2016 presidential campaign already looming large, McConnell (Ky.) and Boehner (Ohio) are both eager to shed the party?s image as an unruly collection of obstructionists and far-right ideologues.

The remedy, they have decided: Act quickly to send President Obama bills with bipartisan support to fast-track international trade agreements, repeal an unpopular tax on medical devices and approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

We’ve talked about this “Fast Track” authority for years (it’s also referred to as “Trade Promotion Authority”). The issue is that, under the Constitution, Congress and not the executive branch, has the sole power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” The executive branch has always been able to negotiate agreements, but it’s Congress that has the power to regulate. “Fast Track” authority or Trade Promotion Authority is effectively Congress handing that right over to the executive branch, by saying that the only thing it can do when brought a trade agreement is vote up or down on the whole thing, rather than actually look at the details of the agreement and send the USTR back to fix the problematic parts.

You can understand why the USTR and the administration want the fast track to go, because it means they can actually promise things during negotiations that are more difficult to promise without that power. But it does seem very, very odd that a Republican Congress that seems to constantly complain about too much power in the executive branch, seems to have no problem whatsoever abdicating its Constitutional powers to that very same executive branch on major trade agreements that could reshape regulations worldwide.

Part of the problem, of course, is that people have been told that this is about “free trade” agreements — and Republicans claim to be in support of free trade. But that’s wrong. The big agreements, like the TPP and TTIP/TAFTA are not about “free trade” for the most part. Most tariff barriers have been chipped away for years. These agreements are about regulations and locking in certain regulations to limit the sovereignty of various nations to pass their own regulations. It’s just protectionism in a different colored coat, dressed up to look like free trade — complete with a dollop of extra sovereignty for corporations. Thus, it seems very odd that a Republican controlled Congress — one that insists it’s all about the Constitution — has decided that it’s first order of business is to give up one of Congress’ main constitutional powers to an administration controlled by the opposing party.

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Comments on “Now In Charge Of Congress, GOP Plans To Give Up Its Own Constitutional Powers To The Obama Administration”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Not so odd after all

The key phrase is this:

by the time the 2016 elections come around

Give the WH the ultimate authority, and you also give them the ultimate blame should things go wrong(which should happen, oh, at about the same time the public sees what their government just agreed to in their names).

‘Hey, don’t look at us, we didn’t have a choice, we had to accept the entire deal, we didn’t have a choice to get rid of that particular part you’re objecting to! If you want to blame someone, blame Obama and the democrats!’

Alternatively, or should I say in addition to the above, while ‘deals’ like these may be terrible for the citizens of the countries, they are great for the large businesses in them, and the republicans are all about big business(in the same way the democrats are about big government).

Tom says:

Re: Not so odd after all

I’m old, I have no kids, I really don’t care any more.

I’ve long said that this country is gridlocked by partisanship and greed. It got that way via a vast majority of fools who buy into the religious and party rhetoric to decide which way to cast their vote.

I’ve finally decided that there’s only one way it will change. We need one party in total control. It doesn’t matter which one, either will royally fuck the country and it’s people over. What will matter is that if one party is in total control then they can’t lay the blame elsewhere. The old guard in that party will be voted out as will the party’s control.

The other party will then jump in and screw everyone over just as bad, but in a different way, and the same will happen to them.

At that point the country will be so fucked that the people will not only be up in arms, but they will have learned their lesson, and we’ll see a revolt. It will be scary, nasty, and possibly bloody, but we may come out of it with a direction and purpose and a chance to see out country become great again, instead of a corporate landfill.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Not so odd after all

That’s the way it’s going, Tom, because everyone is hoping for a great big hero to ride in on a white horse to save us. That’s not going to happen.

Meanwhile, we’ve got people decrying democracy as mob rule and government as unwarranted interference in all the things when we actually need enough to get things done without getting in the way.

If, as I suspect, the Reps screw the country over by implementing the Ryan Plan (either before or after 2016) and turning us into a theocratic oligarchy, the people will indeed revolt. I’m just hoping they’ll do it at the ballot box by voting 3rd party en masse. The only reason we generally vote for the two parties is that we’re afraid the other party will get in. When we stop caring about that, we’ll be able to vote 3rd party with confidence knowing that, if enough other people vote for them, they’ll get in.

There are many third parties to vote for; educate yourself and spread the word. Let’s give both of the big parties a smack in 2016 by voting someone else into office. It’s better than getting into a bloody mess and an even more paranoid police state.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Not so odd after all

Apparently you need to read more – the only explanation is that they are nuts.
1) “I’m not a scientist but ….”
2) “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,”. Certainly you have read about these folks who try and some success in attaining office – right?
3) “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country…. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
4) … many more …

And Washington did not want to proclaim a national religion, nor did he want to fight an endless war everywhere while denying citizens access to a livable wage and medical care. You are right in at least one instance as he did accept slavery.

Morgan Wick says:

Re: Re: Not so odd after all

We had one party in total control royally screwing the country over during the Bush years, and we didn’t even have time for the Democrats to do the same (in part because they’re too timid to do the same) before the Republicans managed to reinvent themselves as the complete antithesis of everything they did when they were in power.

We need to change the way we vote. Our first-past-the-post system is the absolute worst way to elect a government and pretty much guarantees a two-party system, especially when you have a powerful directly-elected executive like we do. (If you really want a strong third party, vote them into Congress and your state legislatures, and lower levels of government too.)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Not so odd after all

“we didn’t even have time for the Democrats to do the same (in part because they’re too timid to do the same)”

I don’t think it’s timidity, actually. I think it’s the result of one of the very real cultural differences between the two parties. Republicans tend to operate in lockstep, and value toeing the party line above all else — even by party members who may disagree with a particular stance. Democrats are not like this so much, which is why it’s so often said that getting agreement within the Democratic party is like herding cats.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And this is why I don't vote

This is exactly why you should vote. Just don’t vote for A or B. If enough people start to do this, then you might actually see some change.

“But my vote doesn’t count then” is often the rejoinder, to which I say, so what? You need to start somewhere. Maybe your candidate only gets a handful of votes this election. Then you need to keep trying, hoping that more and more people will jump on board next election. Saying “He’ll never get elected anyway” is a self fulfilling prophecy.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 And this is why I don't vote

Because that’s worked sooooo well for us in the past.

Look at our recent history. Remember Bush Sr.? “Read my lips, no new taxes.” And then he broke that promise, and the voters threw him out and replaced him with a guy who was just the opposite: a (relatively) young, hip, saxophone-playing cool dude who oh-by-the-way turned out to be a sexual predator.

So 8 years of one-scandal-after-another later, the American people were sick of Bill Clinton, so we went and elected a guy who was just the opposite. With the way he ended up getting caricatured later on in his presidency, it’s easy to forget that Dubya originally ran on very explicitly being the anti-Clinton and “restoring dignity to the White House.” Yeah.

And after 8 years of doing his best to destroy what little dignity remained to the office of President after Clinton, the American people were sick of him and we went and elected someone who essentially ran on exactly the same platform as Dubya did: Hope And Change. Obama positioned himself as the guy who was just the opposite, and it worked… and look what it got us.

Every president has been worse than the one before him for, at the very least, 4 presidencies now. But if this continues, and we elect our next president because of who he’s not again, instead of who he is, then things will just continue to get worse. Remember the definition of insanity popularly attributed to Albert Einstein: continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results.

Libertarian Dude says:

Re: And this is why I don't vote

If only people like you would vote Libertarian we’d have some real choices. Right now both parties can count on the other to screw up enough that they’ll get back in power. Simply not voting keeps that going nicely. We all need to vote third party or interdependent.

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re: And this is why I don't vote

Libertarianism is an inherently flawed concept. The assumption that a “free” market can exist without regulation is a fairy tale that those who abuse the system would love for you to believe.

Exhibit #1: Clinton deregulated Wall Street, and ten years later the whole thing practically collapses.

Corruption and back-dealing exist in real life, and you can’t create an economic model based purely on competition without factoring in those who manipulate the market.

Exhibit #2: If you want to see an almost entirely “free” market, check out Eve Online, which has a fairly representative free market economy. It’s also full of huge corporations that manipulate the market and completely steamroll smaller corporations economically. The economy works (especially since resources are essentially unlimited as they refresh themselves) but there is virtually no advantage to the “small business”.

What we actually need is business regulation by people without an investment or other incentive to help certain businesses. Unfortunately this doesn’t exist, hence we get the widespread corruption with regulation because those regulations are ineffective.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: And this is why I don't vote

“Libertarianism is an inherently flawed concept. The assumption that a “free” market can exist without regulation is a fairy tale that those who abuse the system would love for you to believe.”


Adam “Invisible Hand” Smith, one of the primary luminaries behind the concept of the free market and someone who is held in high esteem by free market proponents, even argues this outright in his work “The Wealth of Nations”.

He observes that in the absence of regulation, the free market will inevitably devolve into monopoly or oligopoly since success in the market is self-amplifying. As you get bigger and more powerful, they will use that power to exclude smaller players, reducing the amount of competition until only a small number remain.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 And this is why I don't vote

Indeed. The problem that the modern “capitalists” have when it comes to Adam Smith is that he was extremely wary of both government and corporations and his positions tended to be nuanced and well thought out, so they don’t really lend themselves well to demagoguery. They resolve that problem by ignoring a lot of what he said and misrepresenting a lot of what they don’t ignore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This is all about 2016

They attempt to head off the label of a do nothing congress?
You mean the label they have been wearing for the past six years? They even publicly stated in 2008 that they would be obstructionist to the point of shutting down the government in order to get their wish list. Nothing has changed.

Ninja (profile) says:

I fear I’m repeating myself by now but why should the Congress exist at all if they don’t want to do their jobs? They don’t want to oversee the intelligence services, they don’t want to deal with trade agreements, they don’t want to review legislation… Sometimes it makes me wonder if it isn’t a deliberate move to weaken one of the powers.

David says:

Re: Re:

The main power of Congress is to accept bribes in return for not doing their job. Representatives invested a lot of money and election lies upfront to get into that position.

Don’t you think they deserve harvesting the reward for being willing to sacrifice their reputation? As congress members, their trustworthiness is currently ranked at the bottom of the scale, below used car salesmen.

Shouldn’t they be able to offer their spouses and children some recompensation for the shame they must be feeling?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh, I had a reading comprehension failure. You’re not saying Clinton would be a shoo-in. Sorry. Where’s my coffee??

Although I don’t think she’s so hated that if she were the nominee it would guarantee a Republican win, either. The people who really despise her tend to be Republicans in the first place.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Oh, I had a reading comprehension failure. You’re not saying Clinton would be a shoo-in. Sorry. Where’s my coffee??

That’s a lot better than some of my excuses. But you’re wrong. I was saying she appeared to be the de facto shoe-in nominee, so you were right the first time.

On second thought, maybe she’s just hoping to keep her hat in the ring so she can end up with yet another secretary of something-or-other when she loses. Attorney General, Ambassador to Russia, head of the UN?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I was saying she appeared to be the de facto shoe-in nominee, so you were right the first time.”

Heh. Yes, I do sometimes trip over my own feet! I was actually addressing a slightly different thing, though (apparently equally incorrect): I’m not talking about whether or not she’d be a shoo-in to become the nominee — although I’m not at all sure that she is — but about whether or not she’d be a shoo-in to win the presidency if she ran.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah right. It’s all your fault.

Gerrymandering is put to a vote state wide? When did this occur?

Disenfranchisement is something we all voted on? Not.

In rich GOP districts voting is a breeze. In poor and middle class districts things are quite different. There is a reason for this and it is intentional.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thus, it seems very odd that a Republican controlled Congress — one that insists it’s all about the Constitution — has decided that it’s first order of business is to give up one of Congress’ main constitutional powers to an administration controlled by the opposing party.

Why does it seem odd? The R’s are business friendly to a fault. They only insist it’s “all about the Constitution” when gun control comes up. The rest of the time… not so much.

Cal (profile) says:

Give up their constitutional assigned powers

They cannot.

The moment they do so they are TRAITORS to the USA. If we allow that to happen, we deserve the democide that will be used on us as it has been in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russian, Mao’s China, etc.

That is not only against our supreme law, it is TREASON, and it would be Terrorism against the USA and Americans. (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85 Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.)

Isn’t anyone bothering to educate themselves anymore here in the USA? And I do not mean in a narrow sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Give up their constitutional assigned powers

Most of the American government commits treason on a daily basis at this point. Your vaunted constitution is being used to wipe their asses.

Your rights are being ignored, people are being murdered by those that are supposed to be protecting them. Your land is being stolen by your overlords. Wake up.

tomczerniawski (profile) says:

Centralization of power. An un-elected shadow government which determines the nation’s policy toward the world. Total surveillance. A growing police/prison state. Worship of military, and heavy militarization of society.

Hmm. I know I’ve read about a country like this in my history books at some point… perhaps someone could refresh my memory?

John85851 (profile) says:

I'll believe it when I see it

This is too much of a risk for Republicans: what happens if the president gives them a bill that will make him look popular? Uh, oh, now the Democrats are getting public support going into the 2016 election.

So instead of being the obstructionist party, they’ll be the “agree to everything” party. But again, I’ll believe it when I see it- it just seems like too many Republicans have it out for Obama that they would never compromise.

Kobe Beef (profile) says:

Re: Re: Bias much?

I think you need to think about that question. If the democrats were bad, then the republicans were better.

I don’t have any grand illusions of hope and change, I just can’t stand the rationalizing by the left. What happened? Oops. We fucked up. No, it was the smart planning by republicans? No! It was anything besides Obama.

It was Obama and his administration that gave it away. Blame him for once.

Lurker Keith says:

You've got to be kidding me...

*facepalm* You mean the ONE “good” thing to come out the Republicans holding both Houses (blocking the bad stuff Obama, or his cronies he isn’t keeping on a leash, wants), the Republicans are AWOL on? Don’t they know that’s kinda WHY they were given control?

If they go through w/ this, it will backfire on them. Badly.

Anonymous Coward says:

i will be honest boys and girls

at this rate were pretty much f#####. only way i can really see change imo is if either A: the democrat and republican parties finally die the unholy death they deserve or B: younger people get in office *or the ####s that are currently it die off at last* and we get people that know about things like this in.

kinda horrible thing to say *if you still think these guys have some worth in them* but thats just how i see it.

GEMont (profile) says:

Bu-bye America the Brave. Hello Amerika the Broke.


No more pussyfooting around the constitution now.

This should be fascinating to watch.

In the next six months, the Republicans (AKA Neo-Fascists) will now be able to set America back 20 more years – and end any possibility of recovery, while installing every bad law and every bad “trade-free agreement” that has been considered over the last decade by the billionaires running the country – without even the semblance of opposition.

And, let the show begin.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Seems appropriate

From Emerson Lake and Palmer: in part

[Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2]

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside
There behind a glass stands a real blade of grass
Be careful as you pass, move along, move along

Come inside, the show’s about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart
Rest assured you’ll get your money’s worth
Greatest show in Heaven, Hell or Earth
You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo
You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll, oh

Right before your eyes we pull laughter from the skies
And he laughs until he cries, then he dies, then he dies

Come inside, the show’s about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart
You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo
You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll, oh

Soon the Gypsy Queen in a glaze of vaseline
Will perform on guillotine, what a scene, what a scene
Next upon the stand will you please extend a hand
To Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Dixieland, Dixieland

Roll up, roll up, roll up
See the show

Performing on a stool we’ve a sight to make you drool
Seven virgins and a mule, keep it cool, keep it cool
We would like it to be known the exhibits that were shown
Were exclusively our own, all our own, all our own

Come and see the show, come and see the show
Come and see the show
See the show

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Seems appropriate

Indeed. Very appropriate.

The only real “benefit” now, is that the press will no longer be telling the public anything important, or anything real.

So, at least the American Public will now sleep better, even if things are actually getting much, much worse.

Ignorance is Bliss, even if bliss is a useless defense in war.

So break out the bread, usher in the clowns and let the show begin.

We have lost the war because we are too cowardly to admit to ourselves who the enemy is, but we can still go down smiling, if not actually happy.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Seems appropriate

Why will “the press” not be reporting anything important?

Because they won’t have time to report anything important between all the PR BS the new Repubbie Feds need publically disseminated. Fascists believe that the public should only be informed enough to keep them happily consuming. But you already knew that anyways didn’t you.

hint: the press is not just MSM

What is MSM?

Yeah, the public is asleep – not.

Sorry. Did not mean to wake you. Just roll over and go back to pretending everything is just fine. Sleep well now.

Lost what war ?

I rest my case. 🙂

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