COMMENTARY | Politico notes that by announcing the government will no longer deport young illegal aliens under certain conditions, he is following a policy strategy of ignoring the law. He has also established a precedent for President Mitt Romney.
To be sure, as the Daily Caller relates, there are some curmudgeonly folks like Charles Krauthammer who think the president ought to obey and enforce the law. But Obama has cast aside the tired, obsolete model of governing. Now enforcement "discretion" is the order of the day. After all, it is not as if Congress was going to impeach the president for violating the law and his oath of office.
Suppose Romney has been elected president. On his first day in office, between the swearing in and the inaugural parties, he can enact a tax cut by executive fiat. John Yoo, writing in National Review, cheekily suggests President Romney could lower taxes by announcing the IRS will no longer prosecute people who refuse to pay their capital gains taxes. One would go further and suggest a blanket amnesty for people who are less than $20,000 in arrears to the IRS, something that would also have the salutary effect of putting those fly-by-night companies that promise they will "fix" things with the IRS for people in tax trouble out of business.
Yoo goes further to suggest Obamacare, should the Supreme Court decide to keep it around, could be rendered null and void by using the same enforcement discretion Obama has used on immigration laws and just refuse to enforce it.
There is no limit to the amount of power a president has if he chooses to follow in Obama's footsteps in deciding what laws to enforce and which ones not to. Congressional appropriations will become mere suggestions. If the Defense Department feels it should spend money in other ways than Congress has dictated, a future president perhaps won't stop it from doing so. The Department of Education could ignore its appropriations bill and block grant a school voucher program. NASA could spend money going back to the moon -- or not -- no matter what Congress says to the contrary.
That road leads to a president ruling more like a king than elected head of a republic. That is what makes what Obama has done so pernicious.