Does President Obama think he's above the law?
Following the rules? Photo: (Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)
In their latest line of attack on President Obama, Republicans are now saying he has a "lawless presidency."
The phrase evokes images of a Wild West where anything goes.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told ABC News that the president's embrace of executive orders to get things done is "creating a dangerous trend which is contrary to the Constitution."
The Washington Post notes that, in fact, Obama has taken fewer such actions than any president since Grover Cleveland in the late 1800s.
Ryan responded, "It's not the number of executive orders, it's the scope of the executive orders. It's the fact that he's actually contradicting law, like in the health care case [when Obama delayed provisions of the Affordable Care Act], or proposing new laws without going through Congress."
He added: "We have an increasingly lawless presidency where he is actually doing the job of Congress, writing new policies and new laws without going through Congress. Presidents don't write laws, Congress does."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) used a similar line of attack in a CBS News interview, complaining that Obama's use of executive actions has made immigration reform a tougher sell among Republicans.
Said Cantor: "There's a lot of distrust of this administration in implementing the law, and we just heard the president in his State of the Union address say, you know what, if he can't work with Congress, he's going to do it his own way."
Of course, if Republicans seriously believed Obama was acting above the law, they would move to impeach him.
But Ryan immediately dismissed that option — the best indication that Republicans are simply testing a political line of attack rather than being serious.
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