President Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) released its opinion yesterday justifying Obama’s January 4 “recess” appointments (Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to the National Labor Relations Board). The memo is dated January 6th, but the Department of justice insists it was completed well before Obama made the appointments. The Heritage Foundation’s Todd Gaziano explains why the decision will not hold up in court:
Animating that central problem is the artificial premise of the question presented, which only considers the period from Jan. 3 through Jan. 23, and argues over and over again that the Senate could not conduct business during that period. But the pro-forma sessions began when most senators left town on Dec. 17. Why not mention the even longer period of time, since that might ordinarily help the President’s argument? The answer is on page 21, where the opinion has to acknowledge that twice during such “pro-forma” sessions, the Congress actually passed bills that became law (on Aug. 5, 2011 and Dec. 23, 2011). Since the President signed these bills into law, it really had no choice but to admit that those pro forma sessions mattered.
The memo confirms that Obama believes he can pick and choose when the Senate is and is not in session on his whim. He was happy to sign the bills passed in pro forma session in December into law, but now he is claiming an exact same pro forma session could not approve his appointments.
Even liberals are admitting that the Obama OLC memo contains no limiting principle to Obama’s new asserted power. Mother Jones‘ Adam Sewer writes: “Under the Justice Department’s argument, Obama could have recess appointed every federal judge waiting for an up or down vote but chose not to.” This is 100% true. Under the logic of this memo, a President Romney could recess appoint his entire administration the first night the Senate gavel’s out of session after he is sworn in.
Like his wildly unpopular health care reform law, anything these “recess” appointees do is guaranteed to end up challenged in court.
Romney: The chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, Chad Connelly, defended Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital: “I would like to see this all shake out where Republicans stick by Republican ideals. I am a big proponent of the free market even though it’s harsh sometimes. Nobody likes to lose jobs.”
Gingrich: A Wall Street Journal investigation reveals that Newt Gingrich and his consulting companies helped financial-services giant Credit Suisse Group gather exclusive Washington information and analysis. And The Las Vegas Sun reports that Sheldon Adelson, whose money is bankrolling Newt’s anti-capitalist ads, does not approve of how his money is being spent: “The key to remember here is that he gave a donation to support Newt,” a source close to Adelson said. “What happens from the time when that contribution lands with that PAC to now, he’s not involved with. He’s not been involved in the strategies and the tactics.”
Obama: President Obama’s $42 million campaign cash haul for the final three months of last year, and his $130 million for 2011, is well short of the pace needed for him to raise $1 billion for his reelection effort.
Polls: According to Gallup, conservatives remain the largest ideological group in the United States, surpassing moderates and virtually doubling liberals.
Around the Bigs
The Wall Street Journal, Government Edges Toward the Debt Ceiling: The White House notified Congress that the government was near its $15.194 trillion borrowing limit Thursday, triggering a procedural mechanism in which the debt limit will ultimately be raised even if Congress votes against it.
The Wall Street Journal, Little Alarm Shown at Fed At Dawn of Housing Bust: In his second meeting as chairman of the Federal Reserve in May 2006, right at the dawn of the housing bubble popping, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, “So far we are seeing, at worst, an orderly decline in the housing market.”
The Washington Examiner, Gray wants Occupy out of McPherson Square: Mayor Vincent Gray wrote to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, whose agency has jurisdiction over the federal park, asking him to eject the Occupy DC protesters so the city can eradicate a rat infestation at the park where protesters have been camped since October.
The Los Angeles Times, Chief executive of high-speed rail project steps down: The chief executive of California’s $98.5-billion high-speed rail project, Roelof van Ark, stepped down yesterday, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. California High Speed Rail Authority Board Chairman Thomas Umberg also resigned.
The Washington Examiner, Investigation ordered into Marine urination video: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered an investigation into a one-minute YouTube video that appears to show four U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of three dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan yesterday.
RedState‘s Ben Howe explains that the debate on the left over whether or not The New York Times “Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?” is really just asking “Are We Biased Enough?”
Fortune‘s Dan Primack fact checks Gingrich’s attack film on Bain Capital.
Power Line‘s John Hinderaker defends Bain Capital’s handling of South Carolina’s Holson Burnes Group, Inc.
The New York Times Paul Krugman compares Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital to Wall Street‘s Gordon Gekko.
Talking Points Memo‘s Sahil Kapur says a White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger on income inequality Thursday sealed the deal: Obama will run as a leftist populist in 2012.
ThinkProgress remembers that in 2008 John McCain also accused Romney of firing “thousands of workers” while at Bain.