Pen and Phone

The editors at The Wall Street Journal expressed worry about President Donald Trump’s use of his “pen and phone” over the weekend to render the Congressional Progressive-Democrats’ obstructionism regarding Wuhan Virus relief for Americans irrelevant. They think he’s aping too closely ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) pen and phone.

It’s true that Trump is using his pen and phone. The differences between his actions and Obama’s, though, are two: Trump is undoing Obama’s pen and phone actions, not creating new things—with this exception, which is the other critical difference: Obama’s actions were largely illegal, struck down on legal challenge; Trump’s have proven legal, in the main, upheld on legal challenge.

The editors are worried about this use in particular:

Mr Trump’s FEMA order is a bad legal precedent that a President Kamala Harris could cite if a GOP Congress blocked her agenda on, say, climate change.

This is mistaken. For one thing, not doing a useful thing because a bad person (of either party) might misuse it later is simply foolish. If the thing is useful, it’s usefully done. Full stop.

For another thing, Obama already set the general precedent—Congress not performing to his satisfaction was his rationale for his own pen and phone use.

Finally, the question of precedent enabling a President Harris to use FEMA funds on her global warming agenda—to take a particular example—is plain wrong. Harris needs no precedent to use FEMA funds for her agenda; she’d do that anyway. And set her own precedent, without a care.

RTWT, though. Aside from this last item, it’s a generally soundly reasoned piece.

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