Tuesday, May 25, 2010

President Obama Will Not Add $200+ Billion Spending Bill By Executive Order - #Tier5 #Unemployment

There has been some speculation floating around on the Internet from persons wanting President Barack Obama to issue an Executive Order for a Tier 5 Unemployment extension.  Although a very faint possibility exists for this speculation - that does not make it true or reality.  Let me explain to my readers the history of the use of the Presidential Executive Order and why it is not likely we will see an Executive Order from the President (or any President). 

First, think about the history and the rules for issuing an Executive Order.  More detail is posted at Wikipedia's article, "Executive order (United States)".  Wikipedia tells us that other than a loosely written clause in the Constitution that allows for this, no specific legislation exists that even grants the use of an Executive Order.  This is in Article II, Section 1, Clause 1.  Rules limiting the power of the Executive Order were established in the 1950s.  This is the information available from Wikipedia directly on those limited powers: 
Until the 1950s, there were no rules or guidelines outlining what the president could or could not do through an Executive Order. However, the Supreme CourtYoungstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 US 579 (1952) that Executive Order 10340 from President Harry S. Truman placing all steel mills in the country under federal control was invalid because it attempted to make law, rather than clarify or act to further a law put forth by the Congress or the Constitution. Presidents since this decision have generally been careful to cite which specific laws they are acting under when issuing new Executive Orders.
There is no law that includes a Tier 5 or additional weeks of benefits to clarify.  Therefore, an Executive Order hits a road block on this fact alone.  But there are other factors that would prevent the President from issuing an Executive Order for this listed below.

The states have no money for unemployment funding.  In fact, most states have to borrow the money currently from the federal government now because there were no states ready to handle this financial crisis.  The entire country was not prepared for this financial crisis and the magnitude of the effect of the financial crisis has been underestimated by many.  This recession truly has been the Great Recession and no state or federal agencies ever really touched the unemployment insurance system with any broad scope since the creation of the program during the New Deal when Franklin D. Roosevelt was President.  To see the history of unemployment insurance and how it is currently defined, see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unemployment_insurance#United_States

As great of a political P.R. stunt it would be for the President to issue an Executive Order for an additional tier of unemployment benefits, the likelihood that this President (or any President) would do so is just not likely.  Not when so many Americans feel that unemployment insurance benefits keep the long term unemployed from looking for work.  Also, not when nearly half of the legislators in Congress who represent the states with high unemployment rates continue to oppose these extensions by voting "No".  We often witness these members of Congress finding a way to have their cake and eat it too though, haven't we? 

Some will even say to the camera that they support the legislation or if you are Tom Coburn, you would say that you are giving 103 weeks and then extending it even further.  Then when it comes time to vote on the Senate floor, vote "Nay".  These Senators may cite their reason for voting "Nay" is because they counted the numbers and the bill would have passed anyway or they may claim that they did not like how the bill was handled financially.  But at the end of the day, you either vote in favor of unemployment insurance extensions or you do not and that is how the majority of Americans feel about this issue.  That decision ultimately is the decision that determines whether or not you get an unemployment check in the mail.  Tom Coburn's "Nay" vote should have been on the grounds that the cutoff rate of 8.5% does not do enough.  Especially when you consider that 8.3% unemployed is still nearly two million Texans.  However, Senator Coburn never said this was the reason for his vote.  His reasons have always been objections to how the extensions are funded.

Another reason the President is not likely to issue an Executive Order is the simple fact this is something that should be addressed by the full weight of the legislative body.  The full legislative body would be the Congress, the Senate, and the President.  And one would think that this issue would easily be given bipartisan support considering that there are 11 million unemployed right now in this country who have exhausted benefits or are about to exhaust benefits and there are an equal amount of United States Senators from each political party representing the states with highest unemployment. 

To pick apart both parties:  Democrats need to pass these extensions with or without Republican support and do so at a fast pace.  However they do need the support of one Republican each time and that Republican usually has been Olympia Snowe (R-ME) until Scott Brown (R-Mass) entered the picture.  Scott Brown may be a Republican but at least he steps in when needed and breaks from party lines and sees what is best for the country as far as the issue of unemployment insurance extensions are concerned. The rest of the republicans need to quit being hypocrites and harping on rules of "Pay As You Go" laws (which they did not even vote in favor of PAYGO) and if they are so excited about the newly reinstated law, they should read the law.  As has been posted here many times, the rules of PAYGO specifically exclude emergency funding.  For more details about the PAYGO law, you can read the article here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAYGO. The rules of PAYGO are linked to the Emergency Deficit Control Act when the Presidency of William Jefferson Clinton earned the country a budget surplus in 1998 and anyone who would have you believe that unemployment is not emergency funding is the main reason why it has taken so long to pass H.R. 4213 and for the past two months the Senate has had to pass monthly extensions for the existing tiers. 

This post was not intended to crush anyone's hopes.  It was intended to keep persons informed to the facts as they are known and available to the public if you avoid certain cable news outlets and care to do the boring research.  The last thing anyone unemployed who have exhausted benefits need now is division and the destruction of hope.  The intent is to relay facts with verifiable reasons.  Consider the fact that for Congress to extend the dates of existing tiers until the end of the year is going to cost $140 billion.  This is the summary from OpenCongress.org about H.R. 4213:
This bill would extend the filing deadline for existing tiers of unemployment benefits until Dec. 31, 2010. COBRA health care subsidies for the unemployed would also be extended. Other provisions in the bill include an extension of the current rate of Medicare payments to doctors and dozens of targeted tax cuts. The total cost of the bill is estimated at $140 billion, with $80 billion of that being for the extended unemployment benefits. None of the cost is offset with new revenues.
With as much partisan divide that is currently going on now with the bickering of the two political parties over $140 billion dollars to extend the current dates with H.R. 4213, it is very unlikely the President will be extending the weeks available alone and the reason is the Constitutionality.  The bill that would extend the weeks would easily be over $200+ billion and there is a chain of command in government.  For financing this large, the full weight of the legislative body is not just needed, it's required.  This is why the Congressional Budget Office exists and why there are Finance Committees.  Remember, the Senate Finance Committee has not even looked at a Tier 5 unemployment extension yet.

Also, when the Recovery Act was passed that offered an extension of unemployment benefits, many Republican legislators and governors opposed the Recovery Act and the EB program that helped to modernize the system with a "trigger" and extended unemployment benefits last year. They opposed the provisions which allow for the $25 increase in payments per week and $15 per dependent, and the COBRA extensions. 

Just some examples:  Representative Zach Wamp, Tennessee's 3rd District, asserted that the extensions were an "unfunded mandate" as sourced here:  http://politics.nashvillepost.com/2009/04/15/wamp-asserts-unemployment-extension-an-unfunded-mandate/.  Many Tennessee State legislators agreed with him and there is a video on that link of a State Representative in Tennessee government stating his objection.  Rep. Zach Wamp is also running for governor of the State of Tennessee and I would ask my fellow Tennesseans to consider that Zach Wamp is on record opposing assistance to the unemployed and has a voting record of voting "Nay" on unemployment extensions.  If Wamp opposes unemployment extensions for the jobless as a Representative in D.C., what do you think he will support as a governor who will inherit a very high unemployment rate, if elected?  (Assuming that the situation remains the same or similar until November which most economists only expect a modest growth in employment).

And nearly each and every state in the South has a similar story or worse.  Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina refused to sign the legislation for federal assistance for unemployment extensions until he was over-ruled by the South Carolina Supreme Court.  Additionally, Governor Rick Perry is an active member of the Tea Party Movement which vehemently opposes unemployment extensions and government spending (proudly since 2009) and Governor Perry even pandered to his constituents with talk of secession over the Recovery Act which did include unemployment insurance extensions.

One final example is Governor Charlie Crist, Florida.  He practically allowed dust to set on a bill which would extend unemployment benefits in Florida before signing it into law.  Many Floridians have went needlessly without benefits due to the carelessness of their governor.  He just recently on Monday of this week signed the legislation that would give jobless Floridians extended benefits that other states have already received. 

The President will not issue an Executive Order for a bill that will easily cost more than $200 billion.  Doing so would only cause further division and as stated above, there really is no specific law that gives the President the authority to place into Executive Order such a large bill that would affect so many states and persons especially when the bill would be deficit spending.  If such an Executive Order were to happen, it is subject to Supreme Court challenge and it would certainly receive that challenge when we consider the facts about the use of previously used Executive Orders and the current political climate in D.C. just to extend the dates of the current unemployment tiers. 
In fact, it is more likely that all of the Senators in Washington would sing Kumbaya and begin working with each other rather than against each other than it is that the President will issue an Executive Order of this magnitude that would ultimately be challenged in the Supreme Court and could result in millions of Americans having to repay any benefit amount that would be received if such an Executive Order were to happen. 

Everything in this post has been sourced and is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge.  Any political assertions were based on the knowledge of a blogger who not only blogs about unemployment - but also has been blogging about politics for a long time and is passionate about the subject.  However, this blog is intended for unemployment information only.  While the issue of unemployment insurance is political right now, some political knowledge is needed to be made known to the public so that everyone is aware of the facts and so that everyone knows the true probability of what will happen if legislation to extend the weeks of unemployment benefits becomes law. 

It has always been my belief that if the unemployed at least have access to the correct information that it would be to the advantage of everyone.  There are certainly some fellow unemployed who do wish that the President would issue an Executive Order, but if you look at the facts about the usage of Executive Orders and the Supreme Court ruling that changed the scope of the Executive Order in 1952 with the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 US 579 (1952) - it is a reminder of the reality that an Executive Order from the President is not going to happen as the President does not have this large scale single authority. 

The President has always immediately signed legislation pertaining to unemployment insurance.  There is certainly still hope for a Tier 5 Unemployment Extension through Congress.  We must continue to focus on Congress and the Senate.  Long-term unemployed need to continue to ask for assistance from the media and push for the larger media outlets to pick up this story.  If the door exists for a Tier 5 unemployment extension, the key to unlock that door is in the media and in the Congress and Senate.

Long term unemployed must stay focused on finding that key.  Anything else would be a distraction.  Speculation may provide entertainment but it will not provide solutions.  Just an example:  Glenn Beck is proof of this each and every day.  His recipe is simple:  play into the fears of people, exploit those fears, and inject pure speculation followed by a question.

There are no solutions in producing this type of speculation.  Please, let's stay focused on the task to educate the media and contact members of Congress and make pleas to the press to cover this issue.  That is the one and only way to accomplish an extension of weeks for those who have exhausted their benefits. 
blog comments powered by Disqus