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Editorial: The games go on

Presidential detractors are adding a tick mark to the win column this week after the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling saying Barack Obama overstepped his authority in deciding when the U.S. Senate was in recess and making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

The president’s people are doing the same thing, saying that while the high court rejected Obama’s right to decide when the Senate was in recess, it solidified the president’s authority to make recess appointments when recesses are called.

As both factions crow their success, the real loser is the American public. The court’s decision means a continuation of the ridiculous and petty gamesmanship within the inner circles of governance.

Did Obama unilaterally decide that the Senate was in recess, despite the legislative body’s claims to the contrary? And did that violate constitutional separation of powers?

Absolutely.

Obama’s actions are part of a larger pattern of disregard for the separation of powers in the face of perpetual gridlock that exists within Congress on issues large and small.

Ask U.S. Rep. Greg Walden about the ability of Congress to pass legislation and he will point to any number of successful bills he has had a hand in. But they are largely bills of regional or limited effect. Yet, big bills with nationwide effect get no traction. And this Congress looks to succeed the 80th Congress, to the “do-nothing Congress” label given it by President Harry Truman in 1947-48.

That Congress passed “only” 906 bills during its two year rule, which the current Congress has passed just 196 bills with only a month of session left, according to an MSNBC report.

This Congress has also worked hard to prevent Obama from accomplishing his usual and customary duties, like making labor board appointments.

Obama made his “recess” nominations because Republicans were routinely blocking all nominations to the board, regardless of merit, to prevent pro-union decisions.

And the Senate chose to describe itself as in session despite the fact that virtually all of its members had vacated the capital, no business was being conducted and the only “sessions” were momentary in nature. They only occurred to thwart Obama’s appointment efforts.

Of course, the Republicans aren’t the only ones to use these sneaky tricks. The Democrats used the same tactics to block President George W. Bush’s appointment attempts in the prior administration.

However, the gamesmanship has reached extreme levels during the current administration with some factions of Congress willing to take the country over the brink into default, rather than come to the table on important issues. And it will do whatever it can to block the president’s legitimate role.

At the same time, the president is operating on such a broad interpretation of executive power that it clearly violates Congress’ legislative rights.

The problem is that radically opposed positions are too often holding sway in both parties, making it impossible to negotiate solutions to the nation’s most important issues.

Voters should not stand idly by when the officials we elect to lead fail to do so.

Obstructing operation of the nation is not leadership and voters should fire their “leaders” if they can’t do the job.

Correction

The Sunday, June 22, Chronicle editorial “Assure due process,” incorrectly implied that property taxes help fund Wasco County roads. In fact, county road costs historically have been funded by a combination of state funding and federal payments in lieu of timber receipts.

Federal payments ended last fiscal year, so Wasco County plans to pursue a special taxing district in November to help replace the federal revenue lost, with the primary goal of maintaining road conditions.

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