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Checks and balances? What checks and balances?

America's government is a carefully crafted system of checks and balances, as laid out by the Constitution -- well, in theory at least.  However, in recent decades, the executive branch has tended to do what it wants while the grumbling legislation is placated by piles of tax loopholes for their campaign donors and special interest handouts for key local constituents.

I. Cybersecurity Bill - Down, But Not Out

Take the "Cybersecurity Act", bill, S.2105 [PDF], for example.  A redraft of earlier House bill H.R. 3523, the Act gained the support of the President by modifying its proposed implementation to include funneling more of Americans' private data through the increasingly Big Brother-esque U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

While the President was delighted by the promise of the DHS gaining more access in the name of fighting a shadowy, vague Chinese threat, privacy advocates and fiscal conservatives were horrified by the bill.  Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) called the bill "Big Brother writ large."

The bill also stalled in the Senate thanks to growing concern from the corporate community, who urged their affiliated Republican Senators to move to block the bill.  Business leaders supported some of the provisions that would tear down legal barriers between government and private sector information sharing.  But they balked at the proposal of mandatory security guidelines -- another key part of the bill.

Well, bill or no bill the Obama administration is confident they can put the policies in place.  The key to subverting the stubborn legislature, argues administration officials is to substitute executive orders in the place of Senate votes.

Homeland Security
President Obama hopes to use executive orders to expand the DHS's cybersecurity role.
[Image Source: CyTalk]

White House press secretary Jay Carney says that executive orders have not been ruled out, assuming the Senate continues its freeze on the bill.  He comments, "In the wake of Congressional inaction and Republican stall tactics, unfortunately, we will continue to be hamstrung by outdated and inadequate statutory authorities that the legislation would have fixed."

Obama's slogan on this and other issues is "we can't wait."

II. Continuing the FDR Legacy

Indeed the White House will likely move aggressively to put in place executive orders with agencies such as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to put in place systems forcing businesses to meet security screening.

Even the prohibition on sharing consumer information with the DHS may be able to be torn down by executive order.  By making the program "voluntary" with incentives, the White House could circumvent laws prohibiting the executive branch from forcing unwanted, unlegislated regulation on businesses.

If President Obama does choose to bypass Congress, the approach may draw criticism.  Senator Susan Collins (R- Maine) -- one of the co-sponsors of the bill -- said she would not be comfortable with that approach, despite her support for the provisions.  She comments, "I'm not for doing by executive order what should be done by legislation."

One of the Democratic co-sponsors -- Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) -- seemed okay with the idea, though.  Asked if she would approve of executive orders as a substitute, she said, "I suppose if we can't [pass the bill], the answer would be yes."

Here's a quick rundown on recent President's use of the executive order [source]:

Executive orders per year
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

Of course these recent numbers pale in comparison to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who put in place 3,467 orders during his twelve years in office.  He may have propelled the nation out of a depression, but he set a costly precedent with those orders, one that his successors have followed -- to a lesser extent -- to this day.

Source: The Hill

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RE: I fear for the future...
By Fujikoma on 8/8/2012 7:26:42 AM , Rating: -1
No kidding. Remove all those tax loopholes and bailouts to corporations first, then don't allow product into the country that isn't following current domestic minimum wage and environmental/pollution laws. They shouldn't get away with undercutting capitalism by avoiding the law by moving elsewhere. Secondly, remove all Halliburton type service industries from the military. Why should U.S. citizens pay $35 for a foam plate with some cheap food on it or be gouged for other 'services'. The military would be better off having its own take back some of those jobs. Third, remove the parsonage exemption (U.S.). Then, if you want to discuss cutting welfare benefits to adults with no dependents that are capable of working but don't (like my lazy cousin and her on/off boyfriend), it won't be a big deal. Welfare is far cheaper than the kickbacks the corporations recieve.

RE: I fear for the future...
By GotThumbs on 8/8/2012 8:55:07 AM , Rating: 5
You just don't get it.....and I'm certain you never will.

It's NOT the corporations that are the problem. No matter how much taxes are collected...if you don't address the REAL problem....You'll end up where you started. A problem with a growing population that is NOT self-responsible or self-reliant. No one country can be the babysitter of the world. It's just NOT possible in the real world.

I'm all for helping others....but only after my own house and family is taken care of. People should not be forced to support others who choose to do nothing. If this is county is to remain "Land of the free.." than you have to allow people to make their own decisions and reap the rewards or suffer the consequences of their personal choices. Charity should not be made a government should remain a personal choice.

RE: I fear for the future...
By JPForums on 8/8/2012 10:59:25 AM , Rating: 2
Remove all those tax loopholes and bailouts to corporations first, then don't allow product into the country that isn't following current domestic minimum wage and environmental/pollution laws.

I don't like bailouts or loopholes. The fact that they are prevalent is indicative of a larger problem. Bailouts occur when we (the government) choose to subsidize an unsustainable system. A better long term solution (harsher short term) is to let those systems fail. If the product or service is needed or wanted badly enough it will reemerge in a more tenable form. Tax loopholes wouldn't be so prevalent if our taxes were lower to begin with. Compare our corporate tax rates with other countries.
The federal tax is already one of the highest in the world. Add state taxes (which most countries have no equivalence for) and you can see why companies are so eager to outsource.
They shouldn't get away with undercutting capitalism by avoiding the law by moving elsewhere.

I thought finding a cheaper more plentiful supply (of workers) to meet your demand was pretty well in line with capitalism. If you want the workforce back in the states, the workforce for a particular occupation needs to be cheaper and more plentiful. One way to move in this direction would be to lower corporate taxes and remove able workers from the welfare pool.
Welfare is far cheaper than the kickbacks the corporations recieve.

The fact that you call tax breaks (loophole or not) kickbacks is indicative of a belief that the money is the property of the government and any tax break they get is a direct subsidy from the government. In fact, it is more akin to a store charging you less due to a coupon or promotional you happen to be aware of. The store lowers the cost of certain items to consumers to increase customers. Likewise, the government will create exemptions or reductions to certain taxes to entice more corporations to keep operations state side. That said, I still don't like these "loopholes" because they are so easy to abuse. On a side note, I prefer stores to keep low prices all the time rather than rely on temporary sales and promos to lure customers in.
Then, if you want to discuss cutting welfare benefits to adults with no dependents that are capable of working but don't (like my lazy cousin and her on/off boyfriend), it won't be a big deal.

This should be the first thing discussed. It is unreasonable to expect working Americans to pay for the livelihood of others who are capable of working but don't. While I don't support bailouts by any stretch, I'd rather loose money to an entity that at least has a chance of increasing the nations productivity (providing goods/services) than an entity that has no will to do so. The problem is, many capable people on welfare stay there because they would loose money getting a minimum wage job. To fix this, by definition you must either raise the minimum wage or reduce welfare benefits (or both).

RE: I fear for the future...
By Fujikoma on 8/8/2012 1:46:51 PM , Rating: 2
"Bailouts occur when we (the government) choose to subsidize an unsustainable system."
Not for the banking industry... they knowingly gave out bad loans and were playing musical chairs (selling them to other banks) with a lot of missing chairs when the music cut off.
Capitalism is supply and demand in a closed system (as there is no such thing as a continuously open system). Once one party can bypass that system, it no longer based on fair wages for fair work/ability. Now, for the short term, China is supplying near slave labor for corpations. They are wising up to the pollution and poor pay though, which is why you see strikes there. Most companies would like to move to Africa for the cheaper labor and lax laws, but the instability is preventing it. Companies tend to cry to their parent government when another country nationalizes its business interests.
Money is the property of the governments. That's a historical fact because the government guarentees the value of the currency, not businesses. What you're thinking of is the barter system, which is not as efficient as the money system.
As to your last paragraph, you don't undertand what a society is. There will always be a percentage of unemployed (it's actually a good thing to have some unemployed people, not just a lot of them). One of society's foci is to give the poor an equitable chance to move out of that class. A kid from a poor family that isn't fed properly will typically not do well in school (outliers will be present, but do not constitute the norm). Cutting back school lunch programs, for example, keeps that group from bettering itself. That's just science, not laziness. You almost had it with the last line, but the benefits would need to be reduced with the employment of a minimum wage job, not cut entirely. Why would someone want to lose state medical benefits by getting a low paying job? You don't live in a vacuum from the poor and corporations are not altruistic in their pursuit of gathering money (they don't produce anything, people produce). Pure, unrestrained capitalism does not advance society, that's why most stable democracies are variations of socialism.

RE: I fear for the future...
By Dorkyman on 8/8/2012 4:34:50 PM , Rating: 2
"knowingly gave out bad loans..."

I remember those days. The libs were all bleeding-heart about how unfair it was that folks with lousy or no credit were locked out of the virtues of home ownership, so banks were FORCED to make crappy loans. They were dragged kicking and screaming into it. I remember; I was there.

But even then things worked out okay--as long as home values kept rising. Eventually that stopped, like all bubbles.

RE: I fear for the future...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/8/2012 4:53:52 PM , Rating: 3
Liberals are great at re-writing history to fit their ideology.

The entire sub-prime market was created by the Government, specifically Democrats, and forced on the banks. Damn right they "knowingly gave out bad loans", when they didn't they were threatened. Janet Reno "urged" (aka threatened) banks to market services to "minority areas". Even as recently as 2008, Obama had the justice department sue Citibank for not offering enough "minority" government backed home loans.

So it's racist and "discriminatory" to only offer loans to people who you think can actually pay them. However if you do, you're practicing "predatory lending" policies and giving out "bad loans". The Liberals want it both ways. They just can't admit their stupid ideas for forcing "equality and fairness" on the free market caused a bubble and bounced back up in their face.

RE: I fear for the future...
By Ryrod on 8/8/2012 11:38:11 PM , Rating: 2
The original loans issued by banks prior to the 80s were primarily fixed-rate mortgages that Freddie and Fannie picked up. However, lending institutions then began to start with ARMs and made these loans to individuals who could not afford the loans only to include an exploding interest rate. Rather than letting everyone know they gave a bad loan that the borrower could not repay, they either spread the risk by bundling the sub-prime loans with prime loans, or else they paid off the credit analysis agencies to get a better rating on the bundle than was warranted.

With all of these sub-prime loans floating around with fraudulent ratings or hidden by prime loan ratings of the associated bundle, it was only a matter of time before the poor choices of the lending institutions came down on all of us. The Community Reinvestment Act did not cause this as you suggest. It was a very small part of the problem, which came about due to systemic greed and the push to make an unsustainable profit year after year, with a sprinkle of regulatory incompetence. The CRA even discourages the type of lending that took place and those types of loans fall short of the Freddie/Fannie guidelines. Furthermore, most of the CRA banks did not make these sub-prime loans. Most of the banks that made sub-prime loans weren't even covered under the CRA, specifically the investment and mortgage institutions. With so many institutions making these loans only to sell them off immediately after, there was an influx of foreclosed houses which caused the market to collapse. If the banks hadn't hidden the true risk of these loans, we wouldn't have had this problem.

Lastly, Janet Reno only said that she would "tackle lending discrimination." There was no set quota that banks had to make to minorities. Janet Reno only required that if a minority individual was as capable of owning a home in a poor neighborhood as a white person in the suburbs, then both should get a loan. In fact, some banks were being deliberately racist and treating entire neighborhoods as unlendable zones. So stop trying to blame Janet Reno for the fact that lending institutions decided to make horrible loans.

Liberals are great at re-writing history to fit their ideology.
The pot calling the kettle black, maybe?

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