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Ed Lasky

Barack Obama campaigned on the theme that he was the anti-Bush who would herald a new age (let’s call it A.O.-the Age of Obama). Among the promises was that he would refrain from signing so called Presidential signing statements. The Wall Street Journal notes that he has broken this promise-and it has even riled Democrats.

With $108 billion in International Monetary Fund loan guarantees in jeopardy last month, White House economic officials begged, cajoled and cut deals with Democrats to secure passage of legislation boosting the fund’s power. Days later, President Barack Obama announced he wasn’t bound by any of the agreements.

The ensuing flap over the president’s June 24 signing statement is the latest in a series of clashes between the White House and Congress over an issue Mr. Obama once fought against himself: presidential fiat.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama pledged that he wouldn’t abuse the presidential signing statement, a declaration issued by the president when he signs a bill to give his interpretation of that law. President George W. Bush used so many signing statements — more than 750 — that the American Bar Association criticized it as an abuse of power.

After Mr. Obama’s issuance of his second signing statement last month, even some Democrats say he isn’t keeping his word on reining in unilateral presidential actions.

The Journal takes him to task for ruling by Presidential fiat-ignoring the wishes and plans of even fellow Democrats, let alone Republicans. They negotiated with him in good faith.

Democrats wanted a range of provisions to assure them that Obama’s latest bailout was not abused.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D., Mass.) and ranking committee Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana said they wanted more transparency from, and oversight over, the World Bank and IMF. Mr. Frank, bargaining for a group of House liberals, wanted assurances that the lenders wouldn’t demand that poor governments cut education, environmental and other social programs as a prerequisite to getting emergency loans.

One provision that Democrats sought to insert in the legislation was a restriction on the ability to loan money to Iran. This was an effort to pressure Iran to dissuade it from pursuing nuclear arms.

Apparently, Barack Obama objected to these steps to rein in the IMF as an infringement on his powers.

Mr. Obama’s signing statement said the IMF and World Bank provisions “would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations.”

Obama was a lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago (a part-time position); we also heard endlessly about his Harvard Law days and his year as the head of the Harvard Law Review. This was to promote the view that he was brilliant and would adhere to the law. After all, the President’s oath contains the pledge that the President would faithfully execute the laws of the United States.

That was then, this is now.

Obama’s quest for untrammeled power continues unabated and he will use all means at his disposal to acquire such power. He is using signing statements that are of dubious legality to do so.

The fact that he is doing so to please foreign powers and international organizations such as the IMF (already the beneficiary of tens of billions of American taxpayer dollars) is appalling.

Or does he just object to any restrictions placed on the IMF that would help assure that Iran does not receive financial help that would further empower its nuclear program?

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