On Tuesday, James Bopp Jr., RNC vice-chairman, submitted a resolution to the RNC that labels the recent "bailouts" of the finance industry and the Big 3 as "socialism". This is a bit different for the RNC, as the organization normally does not involve itself in policy-oriented activity (past establishing the party platform). Fox news reports:
The statement says the rescue packages are "moving our free-market based economy another dangerous step closer toward socialism."
"What was needed, and is still needed, to fix the banking industry is not a bailout, but rather a commitment to fiscal responsibility," the resolution says. "Members of the Republican National Committee call for all members of Congress to oppose any and all future bailouts that might come before the Congress, including President-elect Obama's public works program."
Unfortunately, only a small percentage of the RNC members (24 out of 168) have signed off on this resolution so far, most likely because of the somewhat incendiary nature of it...after all, it basically calls out the sitting GOP president. Now that President Bush has less than a month in office, it seems that Republicans are holding back less and less on calling him out for some of his recent actions, including this resolution. The dynamics are interesting, as RNC chair candidate Ken Blackwell also spoke out on this topic this week. In an article published Wednesday, Blackwell refers to the President's Big-3 bailout as a "Big Government Gambit" and "Bush's most significant mistake." Blackwell says:
Out of all the options available to President Bush, he took the worst-possible course.
His actions may not even be legal. Congress considered this bailout and rejected it, while Mr. Bush’s treasury secretary publicly said that using the original bailout funds for automakers would be unlawful without congressional action. The legality of these actions cannot be challenged unless the right party brings a lawsuit, but the fact that ordinary taxpayers cannot bring a lawsuit against federal spending does not change the fact that everyone agreed the first bailout could not be extended to automakers. President Bush therefore usurped the legislative function, doing something Congress refused to do.
"Usurped the legislative function". Yes, that appears to be exactly what he has done. In fact, many believe that what Bush has done is downright illegal, although the language of the TARP agreement, when read word-for-word (as lawyers have a tendency to do), may leave room for interpretation. I posted a link to a Heritage writeup on this very issue a week or so ago, and in Wednesday's Washington Times, Terrence Jeffrey breaches the subject of the legality of the Big 3 bailout's use of TARP funds:
President Bush, of course, failed to get Congress to enact legislation to provide money to auto companies.
That brings us back to the Constitution. Article 1, Section 9 reads, "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law."
In his commentaries on the Constitution, Justice Joseph Story explained why the Framers gave Congress this power. "If it were otherwise," he said, "the executive would possess an unbounded power over the public purse of the nation; and might apply all its monied resources at his pleasure."
President Bush may think his auto bailout spared his legacy a bad mark. In fact, it leaves America to be haunted by the precedent of an executive who unilaterally spends the people's money without the legal authority required by our Constitution.
If there is anything more infuriating than the socialist nature of the bailout funding, it is the President's unilateral override of the will of the Congress to not provide a Big 3 bailout. That sort of thing is not supposed to happen in this country. In a dictatorship or a monarchy, maybe. I think there were tea parties held over things like that...
It remains to be seen if Bopp's RNC resolution will get enough traction to pass during the RNC meeting in late January. By then President Bush will be gone and PEBO (President Elect Barack Obama) will then be PBO and will own the problem - but President Bush will have created the precedent for providing a free ride for the Big 3 with (basically) no strings attached.
We can only hope that this is an indication that the GOP has finally discovered the meaning of fiscal conservatism and will carry that forward by promoting candidates who believe in free markets and limiting governmental meddling in the business of business. Now, realize that President Bush has done many good things for this country during his eight years in office. However, hopefully we will never again hear a Republican utter the words "I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system".