The decisive midterm election results have done little to affect President Obama’s determination to continue to expand government. As Mr. Obama nears the end of his presidency, he continues to promise “a new future” of even more big-government initiatives.
“My presidency is entering the fourth quarter,” said Mr. Obama, “interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter.” For those who believe the Obama administration has already given the country more than enough “interesting stuff,” the only thing standing between the American people and Mr. Obama’s vision of a new future is our recently seated 114th Congress.
Mr. Obama refuses to acknowledge the vote of no confidence that his administration received in the midterm elections. “I’m going to play offense,” he said as he recently outlined his political strategy for dealing with the Republican majority. “I’m not going to spend the next two years on defense.”
The GOP should take note. Recognizing this reality, a diverse group of thought leaders and concerned citizens has recently published the Citizens’ Mandate. This document calls for congressional action and provides a playbook for the legislative branch to challenge executive overreach, abuses of power and failures in national security.
In clear and simple terms, the citizens’ mandate urges Congress to pursue policy initiatives that are true to the principles of smaller government and individual rights. The mandate urges congressional leaders in the GOP to focus on returning to principles of smaller government, accountability, and market-based solutions.
The mandate’s prescriptions include specific steps toward real accountability. To check abuses of power, congressional hearings should investigate lawlessness in the Obama administration, from the Benghazi cover-up to Operation Fast and Furious gun-running to the Internal Revenue Service’s illegal targeting of conservative groups. Congressional committees should each produce a biannual report spotlighting waste, fraud and abuse by administrative agencies, from the IRS to the National Labor Relations Board to the Environmental Protection Agency. These reports would also expose bureaucratic obstruction, nullification of laws, and vindictive agency actions designed to punish or intimidate political adversaries.
The Democrats’ resounding defeat in the midterms has not affected Mr. Obama’s game strategy. He seems to have concluded that it makes sense to stay on the offensive when you cannot defend the indefensible. The alternative, surely, is daunting:
He would need to acknowledge gross overreach in his wildly unpopular health care legislation and work with the 114th Congress to develop a bipartisan approach to fix Obamacare.
He would need to acknowledge his foreign policy failures and work with Congress to answer the threat posed by violent Islamic jihadists such as ISIS, a resurgent Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other groups.
He would need to hold accountable those responsible for murdering four brave Americans in Benghazi on the eve of his reelection.
He would need to stop exceeding his constitutional authority and begin to respect the coequal branches of our federal government by upholding the laws and retracting his executive amnesty actions.
He would need to require his administration to clean house, to stop the jaw-dropping abuses of power, and to prosecute those responsible for criminal conduct, including the investigation and prosecution of journalists in violation of free speech and DOJ guidelines and the unilateral and illegal release of five Taliban commanders in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl.
Instead, with the fourth quarter’s opening buzzer, Obama chose to ignore the election results and to press on. While minimizing the GOP’s electoral results as “a good night” — a nice little aberration, aren’t they cute sometimes? — he was quick to add that “two-thirds of voters that chose not to participate in the process yesterday,” as if those were abstentions that invalidated the result.
In response to Mr. Obama’s defiant swagger, Congress took its first legislative action after the record-shattering elections by — wait for it — conceding the power of the purse. The effect was further entrenchment of Obamacare, amnesty-by-fiat and the administration’s gangland tactics. Gone was any semblance of executive branch accountability and transparency.
But it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, as the saying goes. And, in the city whose professional basketball team popularized that expression, freedom-loving Americans depend on congressional representatives to advance the citizens’ mandate until the final buzzer. We can win only if our newly elected congressional majority is willing to play offense rather than scramble in the backcourt while Mr. Obama and his supporters stay on the offensive.
Now more than ever, America needs Congress to implement the citizens’ mandate to protect individual freedom, create opportunity for all, and use market-based solutions to rebuild the American dream.
First published in The Daily Caller in January 2015