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Bush’s Goal Of Expanded Presidential Powers Should Concern All

December 14, 2007

During the final Democratic debate prior to the Iowa caucuses, a most important question was asked of the candidates.  It was the last question of the debate, but strikes to the heart of what so many of us liberals fear about President Bush.  Bush’s goal of expanded presidential powers is not one that many understand, or care to consider.  But the issue cuts to the core of our democracy.

From the CNN Transcript

As president, would you use signing statements to assert that certain acts of Congress conflict with your interpretation of the Constitution and your obligation to enforce those laws?

Senator Clinton, 30 seconds.CLINTON: I would use them the way presidents before this president used them. They were used to clarify the law to perhaps make it more coherent with other laws that have been passed. And along came President Bush. He’s used them as essentially a from of veto. He did it through a piece of legislation I passed, where it was pretty simple. I said: If you’re going to have a FEMA director, it should be somebody with experience handling emergencies.

(LAUGHTER) I know. Who would think that it would be a complicated issue And we actually had to pass it through the Congress. And when George Bush signed the bill it was part of, he specifically used a signing statement to say, “I don’t have to follow that, unless I choose to.”

So let’s quit with all of the perversion of the Constitution and the role of law. Let’s get back to what presidents did in both parties and, hopefully, remove the legacy of George W. Bush.

WASHBURN: Senator Edwards, thirty seconds on that.

EDWARDS: Well, it is true that Bush has — not only in the use of signing statements, but in every conceivable way, expanded the executive power. And this is not the way our founding fathers intended this government to operate.

And what I will do is go back to the way signing statements have been used historically.

And on top of that, I’m going to make absolutely certain that our three branches of government are in fact co-equal. We don’t have a royal presidency. We don’t have a king of the United States of America. Whatever George Bush thinks, he is not king.

And it’s important for the American people to understand that their president respects them and understands that the Oval Office and the White House and the presidency doesn’t belong to one person. It belongs to the American people.

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