President Obama to Congress: "So Sue Me"
The news: President Obama has run out of patience when it comes to bypassing Congress.
"Middle-class families can't wait for a Republican Congress to do stuff," Obama said in a speech on Tuesday, criticizing the legislature for failing to address the United States' infrastructure problems. "So sue me. As long as they're doing nothing, I'm not going to apologize for trying to do something."
The comment follows House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)'s threat last week to sue Obama over alleged abuse of executive power. Republicans have been angry about the president's reliance on executive actions to bypass Congress, while Obama has countered by saying, "If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours."
The gaping hole in infrastructure: If Obama's goal is to light a fire under Congress' ass, he has a good reason for doing so. The Highway Trust Fund is scheduled to run out in 57 days, which means that 877,000 jobs and $28 billion in U.S. exports are at risk. Obama would like to eliminate corporate tax breaks to replenish the coffers; Republicans would rather end Saturday U.S. Postal Service deliveries or raise state online sales taxes.
Congress remains in a partisan deadlock over the issue and Obama is threatening to step in if they can't resolve it soon. "It's not crazy; it's not socialism. It's not the imperial presidency. No laws are broken, it's just building roads and bridges like we've been doing," he emphasized.
And just to make it clear who he blames, he added, "House Republicans have refused to act on this idea. I haven't heard a good reason why they haven't acted, it's not like they've been busy with other stuff. No, seriously. They're not doing anything. Why don't they do this?"
Obama is on an executive kick right now. During his State of the Union address this year, Obama promised a "year of action," with or without congressional backing, and so far, he has been delivering. After unilaterally easing student loans, capping carbon emissions, strengthening federal background checks for gun purchases and increasing minimum wage for federal workers to $10.10 an hour, the president announced on Monday that he will also enact new immigration policies.
But while Boehner might see these actions as evidence of Obama's "king-like authority," the president has actually issued the fewest executive actions of any U.S. president in the past century. And as midterm elections approach, it's clear that Obama wants to tick off agenda items that he promised voters, even if it means going it alone — and that might mean even more no-fucks-given moves in the future.