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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"In the wake of Congressional inaction and Republican stall tactics, unfortunately, we will continue to be hamstrung by outdated and inadequate statutory authorities that the legislation would have fixed."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 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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