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US: A crisis of debt and of democracy

(China Daily)

09:13, August 05, 2011

What the US is facing is not only a debt crisis, but more of a democracy crisis, as the debt impasse has revealed that the relationship between the President and Congress has turned abnormal, said Jacob S. Hacker and Oona A. Hathaway, professors from Yale University, in an op-ed piece in The New York Times on August 1, 2011.

According to the article, the federal government has been hurtling toward two unsavory options for weeks: a crippling default brought on by congressional gridlock, or a unilateral increase in the debt ceiling by an unchecked president.

Even if the last-minute deal holds together, said the article, it's become clear that the balance at the heart of the Constitution is under threat. "The debate has threatened to play out as a destructive but all too familiar two-step, revealing how dysfunctional the relationship between Congress and the president has become. The two-step begins with a Congress that is hamstrung and incapable of effective action. The President then decides he has little alternative but to strike out on his own, regardless of what the Constitution says."

The article cited Libya as an example of the abnormal relationship between the US Congress and the President. "The President didn't try very hard to get Congress to agree to the intervention, some say, because he didn't think he had the votes. Congress, for its part, has been unwilling or unable to defend its constitutional and statutory power to authorize a war. Not surprisingly, the war continues without a single congressional vote to support it, and Congress's power to authorize military action has taken a hit from which it may never recover."

The problem is not limited to war, said the article. For decades, presidents have been making more frequent use of executive orders, signing statements and agency regulations, as well as sole executive agreements with other nations.

The democracy crisis must be tackled, it noted. "Nobody wins when our constitutional system falters: not the president, who gains unilateral power but loses a governing partner; not Congress, which gets to blame the president but risks irrelevance; and certainly not the American people, who have to bear the resulting dysfunction."

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Jack Smith, USA at 2011-09-0624.26.135.*
The U.S. is proving that Marx was right. It"s that simple.
  

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