Monday, November 13, 2006
THE BANE OF SIGNING STATEMENTS
GEORGE W. BUSH
I've been pondering this over the last day or so, perhaps someone can shed some light. With Democrats now controlling the Congress, it is expected that they will follow through on their various proposals, including enacting the 9/11 Commission recommendations, cutting interest rates on student loans, making changes to the new Medicare law to allow for lower drug prices and raising the minimum wage to $7.25. Not the most ambitious slate, just common sense legislation that the American people can get behind and the Dems can hang their hat on as they travel the road as "agents of change."
My concern comes when I think about these various pieces heading to Bush's desk. To veto these would be nothing short of political suicide and a total repudiation of his stated desire to pursue a bipartisan approach to governance. What I consider a greater evil is the possibility that his infamous use of signing statements could derail any and all of these measures. For a president who actually took a bill that explicitly said 'no torture' only to have him write a signing statement saying 'yes torture', I see no reason why he would bat an eye using a signing statement to twist the legislation however he wants it.
One of the easiest to come to mind would be a signing statement gutting the minimum wage hike. Conventional wisdom indicates that the wage hike is long overdue and a no-brainer. So, assuming it sails through Congress, what's to keep Bush from whipping out a signing statement saying that the hike need not be enforced in businesses with under 100 employees? Would that not basically eliminate thousands of businesses like the fast food industry? I know that this is sort of a clunky example, but would anyone doubt that Bush and his lawyers could find some way to write in a loophole that effectively disemboweled whatever part of the bill they didn't care for?
For a man who took an anti-torture bill and wrote torture into it, I do not believe it to be that much of a stretch. Bush has no respect for the institution of Congress and the Constitution. Anything that impedes his acquisition of power must be minimized if not outright eliminated.