Chad Ellis
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One of my objections to the Bush administration was the use of signing statements to nullify laws. To be sure, Bush didn't invent the process but he accelerated it and used it more boldly and aggressively to expand the power of the executive branch in ways I think violated the Constitution.

I'd hoped that Obama would make a clear break from this practice, but it looks like he isn't.

The Hill wrote:
House members approved an amendment by a 429-2 vote to have the Obama administration pressure the World Bank to strengthen labor and environmental standards and require a Treasury Department report on World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) activities. The amendment to a 2010 funding bill for the State Department and foreign operations was proposed by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), but it received broad bipartisan support.


Obama, in a signing statement, said he would ignore the restrictions because they infringe on his "constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with international organizations and foreign governments, or by requiring consultation with the Congress prior to such negotiations or discussions."

I understand to a point where Bush and Obama are coming from. Bills are increasingly packaged affairs (the amendment in question was part of a $106 billion war supplemental bill) and without a line-item veto it's easy for Congress to put the Executive branch in a difficult situation by including provisions that go beyond their own designated powers in a bill that is too expansive for the President to veto over a minute detail.

I don't think, however, that signing statements by which the President assumes the power of the Supreme Court to declare part of a law unconstitutional can possibly be the right answer. And, at the risk of giving DWTripp a heart attack, I'm as unhappy to see Obama doing it as I was when Bush was President.
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DWTripp is a computer hacker.
I am confused I though he was a marriage consultant.
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Quote:
And, at the risk of giving DWTripp a heart attack, I'm as unhappy to see Obama doing it as I was when Bush was President.


Not to worry... hopefully, if I have a heart attack, it'll be while cavorting with a barely legal teen.

The bloom is rapidly coming off the rose regarding our current President. At no point did I ever imagine you were a thoughtless sycophant of Obama's. You might be a little misguided, but I sense real intelligence and wisdom buried beneath that thin facade of liberalism.

In my view President Obama is currently in the process of learning the harsh reality... getting elected and being photogenic is nothing at all like running the most powerful nation on Earth.
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Chad, were you disappointed when Clinton used them? He used them more often that Bush did, as you're probably aware. It's not the use of the signing statement that should ever be an issue--it's the content of the signing statement. You really have a beef about this one?
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
One of my objections to the Bush administration was the use of signing statements to nullify laws. To be sure, Bush didn't invent the process but he accelerated it and used it more boldly and aggressively to expand the power of the executive branch in ways I think violated the Constitution.

I'd hoped that Obama would make a clear break from this practice, but it looks like he isn't.

The Hill wrote:
House members approved an amendment by a 429-2 vote to have the Obama administration pressure the World Bank to strengthen labor and environmental standards and require a Treasury Department report on World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) activities. The amendment to a 2010 funding bill for the State Department and foreign operations was proposed by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), but it received broad bipartisan support.


Obama, in a signing statement, said he would ignore the restrictions because they infringe on his "constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with international organizations and foreign governments, or by requiring consultation with the Congress prior to such negotiations or discussions."

I understand to a point where Bush and Obama are coming from. Bills are increasingly packaged affairs (the amendment in question was part of a $106 billion war supplemental bill) and without a line-item veto it's easy for Congress to put the Executive branch in a difficult situation by including provisions that go beyond their own designated powers in a bill that is too expansive for the President to veto over a minute detail.

I don't think, however, that signing statements by which the President assumes the power of the Supreme Court to declare part of a law unconstitutional can possibly be the right answer. And, at the risk of giving DWTripp a heart attack, I'm as unhappy to see Obama doing it as I was when Bush was President.


Have a link for this? I'm feeling terribly lazy today.

Darilian
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MisterCranky wrote:
Chad, were you disappointed when Clinton used them? He used them more often that Bush did, as you're probably aware. It's not the use of the signing statement that should ever be an issue--it's the content of the signing statement. You really have a beef about this one?


I object to a President signing a law and then declaring that he will not enforce all or part of it.

At the risk of oversimplifying, I think there are two types of signing statements. In the first, the President indicates his understanding of what the law actually means. This can be thought of as being a counterpart to the Congressional record, which courts can refer to when resolving disputes over the intent of a law. Quite different, in my opinion, is a statement that declares that a law or a provision of a law is unconstitutional and thus will be ignored, treated as advisory, etc.

I think Obama has a legitimate point in arguing that Congress can't direct him to adopt a particular foreign policy stance, but I don't think an acceptable remedy is for him to assume the powers of the judicial branch.
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Darilian wrote:
Have a link for this? I'm feeling terribly lazy today.

Darilian


Too lazy to cut and paste a quote into Google? Now that's laziness I can admire:

http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/house-overwhelming-rebuk...
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That is certainly an oversimplification, but who cares, we need only deal with your objection. Where do you suppose that the final authority for this refusal to implement this aspect of the legislation resides?
 
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MisterCranky wrote:
Where do you suppose that the final authority for this refusal to implement this aspect of the legislation resides?


I assume you're thinking of the Supreme Court.
 
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I didn't ask you what you assumed *I* thought, I asked you what you thought. In any conflict between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, who else would *you* look to? If Obama is correct in his understanding of his constitutional authority, what possible authority can he have to sign it away in the first place? If he is incorrect, we have a perfectly reasonable panel of judicial experts to decide the issue.
 
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LeeDambis wrote:

Now that's Congress taking back its authority the old-fashioned way. About time, too. Congress is supposed to be more than a rubber stamp and paymaster for the president's policies.


Yes, it is, but if this is the end of the line for signing statements that declare bill provisions unconstitutional and therefore moot, I'd be amazed. Until some sort of constitutionally valid approach to line item vetoes is installed, these disputes will never end, and the Supreme Court will always be the court of last resort to resolve them.
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Incidentally, by "always" I mean as long as Americans can't figure out some better way to self-govern than this horseshit we've become mired in over the past couple of hundred years.
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And by "better" I really mean "different."
 
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We need the actual text of the bill and of the signing statement to form an informed opinion here. The news story says, "House members approved an amendment by a 429-2 vote to have the Obama administration pressure the World Bank to strengthen labor and environmental standards." This sounds both meaningless (how would you decide if he'd pressured them enough) and unconstitutional. I wouldn't fault anyone for ignoring it, signing statement or not. But there might be more details that make it more of an issue.
 
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In response to Lee:

Your solution is, to me, no better than the President asserting his constitutional authority. While you may be right about the psychology of the cudgel that they wield, I don't find Congress' collective wisdom any more or less desirable than that of the executive branch. The man made it through the electoral college, and now you have to either let him do what the Constitution says he can do, or emasculate the office back to pre-Jacksonian levels. This might qualify as the "better" I mentioned, it might not.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
We need the actual text of the bill and of the signing statement to form an informed opinion here. The news story says, "House members approved an amendment by a 429-2 vote to have the Obama administration pressure the World Bank to strengthen labor and environmental standards." This sounds both meaningless (how would you decide if he'd pressured them enough) and unconstitutional. I wouldn't fault anyone for ignoring it, signing statement or not. But there might be more details that make it more of an issue.


Yes, I agree with you, but I also know that I wouldn't be able to follow the language of the bill for more than about six minutes before I passed out from chronic ennui.
 
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MisterCranky wrote:
I also know that I wouldn't be able to follow the language of the bill for more than about six minutes before I passed out from chronic ennui.


I bet the provision in question isn't more than two sentences. Reading legislation often isn't all that hard. I'll look it up later, if no one else does. I don't know if there's a place to find the signing statements online.
 
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I was looking for the current text of the bill, but I got sidetracked reading Barney Frank's comments on this whole thing prior to the signing statement's implementation. That guy is a hoot.
 
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Well here's the first half of the contested legislation--knock yourselves out, I say the last sentence of the President's signing statement is pretty damned ambiguous. He doesn't say that he won't do as directed by statute.... Maybe I *should* have gone to law school. I'm sure I could have pulled at least a C average, and right now I could be chasing an ambulance instead of watching "Wall Street" and skimming the supplemental appropriations follies of 2009.


"Sec. 1110. Title XVI of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262p et seq.) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:
`SEC. 1626. REFORM OF THE `DOING BUSINESS' REPORT OF THE WORLD BANK.

`(a) The Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States Executive Directors at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, and the International Finance Corporation of the following United States policy goals, and to use the voice and vote of the United States to actively promote and work to achieve these goals:
`(1) Suspension of the use of the `Employing Workers' Indicator for the purpose of ranking or scoring country performance in the annual Doing Business Report of the World Bank until a set of indicators can be devised that fairly represent the value of internationally recognized workers' rights, including core labor standards, in creating a stable and favorable environment for attracting private investment. The indicators shall bring to bear the experiences of the member governments in dealing with the economic, social and political complexity of labor market issues. The indicators should be developed through collaborative discussions with and between the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the International Labor Organization, private companies, and labor unions.
`(2) Elimination of the `Labor Tax and Social Contributions' Subindicator from the annual Doing Business Report of the World Bank.
`(3) Removal of the `Employing Workers' Indicator as a `guidepost' for calculating the annual Country Policy and Institutional Assessment score for each recipient country.
`(b) Within 60 days after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary of the Treasury shall provide an instruction to the United States Executive Directors referred to in subsection (a) to take appropriate actions with respect to implementing the policy goals of the United States set forth in subsection (a), and such instruction shall be posted on the website of the Department of the Treasury.
`SEC. 1627. ENHANCING THE TRANSPARENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF THE INSPECTION PANEL PROCESS OF THE WORLD BANK.

`(a) Enhancing Transparency in Implementation of Management Action Plans- The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States Executive Directors at the World Bank to seek to ensure that World Bank Procedure 17.55, which establishes the operating procedures of Management with regard to the Inspection Panel, provides that Management prepare and make available to the public semiannual progress reports describing implementation of Action Plans considered by the Board; allow and receive comments from Requesters and other Affected Parties for two months after the date of disclosure of the progress reports; post these comments on World Bank and Inspection Panel websites (after receiving permission from the requestors to post with or without attribution); submit the reports to the Board with any comments received; and make public the substance of any actions taken by the Board after Board consideration of the reports.
`(b) Safeguarding the Independence and Effectiveness of the Inspection Panel- The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States Executive Directors at the World Bank to continue to promote the independence and effectiveness of the Inspection Panel, including by seeking to ensure the availability of, and access by claimants to, the Inspection Panel for projects supported by World Bank resources.
`(c) Evaluation of Country Systems- The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States Executive Directors at the World Bank to request an evaluation by the Independent Evaluation Group on the use of country environmental and social safeguard systems to determine the degree to which, in practice, the use of such systems provides the same level of protection at the project level as do the policies and procedures of the World Bank.
`(d) World Bank Defined- In this section, the term `World Bank' means the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association.'.
climate change mitigation and greenhouse gas accounting

Sec. 1111. Title XIII of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262m et seq.) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:
`SEC. 1308. CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION AND GREENHOUSE GAS ACCOUNTING.

`(a) Use of Greenhouse Gas Accounting- The Secretary of the Treasury shall seek to ensure that multilateral development banks (as defined in section 1701(c)(4) of this Act) adopt and implement greenhouse gas accounting in analyzing the benefits and costs of individual projects (excluding those with de minimus greenhouse gas emissions) for which funding is sought from the bank.
`(b) Expansion of Climate Change Mitigation Activities- The Secretary of the Treasury shall work to ensure that the multilateral development banks (as defined in section 1701(c)(4)) expand their activities supporting climate change mitigation by--
`(1) significantly expanding support for investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, including zero carbon technologies;
`(2) reviewing all proposed infrastructure investments to ensure that all opportunities for integrating energy efficiency measures have been considered;
`(3) increasing the dialogue with the governments of developing countries regarding--
`(A) analysis and policy measures needed for low carbon emission economic development; and
`(B) reforms needed to promote private sector investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, including zero carbon technologies; and
`(4) integrate low carbon emission economic development objectives into multilateral development bank country strategies.
`(c) Report to Congress- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this section, and annually thereafter, the Secretary of the Treasury shall submit a report on the status of efforts to implement this section to the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.'.
multilateral development bank reform

Sec. 1112. (a) Budget Disclosure- The Secretary of the Treasury shall seek to ensure that the multilateral development banks make timely, public disclosure of their operating budgets including expenses for staff, consultants, travel and facilities.
(b) Evaluation- The Secretary of the Treasury shall seek to ensure that multilateral development banks rigorously evaluate the development impact of selected bank projects, programs, and financing operations, and emphasize use of random assignment in conducting such evaluations, where appropriate and to the extent feasible.
(c) Extractive Industries- The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States Executive Directors at the multilateral development banks to promote the endorsement of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) by these institutions and the integration of the principles of the EITI into extractive industry-related projects that are funded by the multilateral development banks.
(d) Report- Not later than September 30, 2009, the Secretary of the Treasury shall submit a report to the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, and the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives, detailing actions taken by the multilateral development banks to achieve the objectives of this section.
(e) Coordination of Development Policy- The Secretary of the Treasury shall consult with the Secretary of State, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and other Federal agencies, as appropriate, in the formulation and implementation of United States policy relating to the development activities of the World Bank Group."

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His power to negotiate treaties is absolutely unambiguous, as is the Senate's oversight in such matters. If you want to decide what constitutes foreign trade versus what constitutes the enactment of elements of a treaty, then go right ahead. I still don't recall Congress being invited to Bretton Woods, although I'd never argue that their influence wasn't felt.
 
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Well if YOU'RE not sure, you could win any amount of money betting that I'm not sure. My point (if I actually have one in this thread) is that a great deal is being made over Obama's signature statement, and I think his statement is slightly more ambiguous than his Constitutional powers are.
 
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Hey stop this at once. I'm reading posts that appear to be about a serious topic, that address the concepts around the topic in reasonable ways, that expand my knowledge and, frankly, are impressive.
I don't get it. Is it April the 1st? Or has my exposure to Chit-Chat given me a new reference point from which the true nature of RSP has become clear?
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I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with both Obama and David. I'm all for congress taking back power that has been usurped by both the executive and judicial branches, but this is clearly outside of their constitutional authority.

This seems analogous to a president issuing an executive order demanding that Congress fund a military action. You just can't reasonably construe his powers as commander-in-chief to include dictating how another branch will act.

As for signing statements in general, I once read/heard them explained as the administration enumerating the position that it will later defend in court. When viewed that way, they seem perfectly reasonable to me.
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Chad;

I agree but thisisone of many reasons I think the simplest most logical solution is aline-item veto. Of course, I don't think that will ever happen.
 
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Here is a catalog of signing statements:
http://www.coherentbabble.com

It seems that so far Obama is running neck and neck with the precedent set before him.

Three No cheers for the three one ring circus.
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