I’ve generally been a fan of Vice-President Cheney, and think the often-repeated criticism that he has promoted excessive growth of executive powers in foreign policy is wrong. But I do not understand how anyone can defend the legality of the executive branch’s decision to lend billions of dollars in TARP money to the auto companies. You can read the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-343) here. I do not see any plausible argument that the statute authorized President Bush and the Secretary of the Treasury to lend TARP money to GM and Chrysler.
Indeed, in a little-noted moment in his interview with Chris Wallace, Cheney seemed to acknowledge that Congress did not authorize the loans and, with what can only be regarded as constitutionally twisted logic, used that fact to justify rather than indict Bush’s action:
I think it’s a good package. I think — you know, we talk about the Congress being critical. They had ample opportunity to deal with this issue, and they failed. The President had no choice but to step in.
Can someone show me where in Article II it says that if Congress “fails” to appropriate money for a particular purpose, the President can “step in” and do it himself? And can anyone explain why liberals who have been so vociferously (and wrongly) critical of alleged Presidential usurpation in foreign policy have been almost uniformly silent about this actual usurpation in domestic policy?
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