Friday, July 2, 2010

Obama, the Gulf Oil Spill, and Federal Power

Not long ago, Barack Obama was pilloried for being too activist, too meddlesome, and too inclined to see himself as the messiah. He was forcing health care reform down our throats, running General Motors, wrecking the financial system and promising to make the oceans recede.

But that was a different guy, from a parallel universe. The President Obama we all know is a passive, detached do-nothing. Or so we have been hearing since the British Petroleum oil spill gained our attention.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican who once denounced Democrats for scheming to "increase dependence on government," now demands that Washington do more for his state...

"For 35 days, he hasn't used the full force of our government," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), complained of the president last month. That's right: a conservative lamenting that Obama is being too cautious and prudent in his deployment of federal power...

He is also responsible for directing policy and making budget decisions involving numerous federal departments and agencies that exist because the GOP, after all, didn't abolish them during its time in power.

To suggest that Obama should devote his full attention to fixing a single problem (a leaking oil well) that the federal government has no competence or responsibility to fix is not leadership but childish fantasy.

Making rules for deepwater drilling is a legitimate function of government, and so is holding polluters accountable for the damage they cause. Plugging oil wells is the function of oil companies...

Obama has gone wrong—as conservatives have often been correct in pointing out—when he has pressed against the limits of his rightful powers, taking on responsibilities far greater than the federal government should assume. A president who does too much is far more dangerous to life, liberty, and property than one who does too little.

read the entire essay

No comments: