On Wednesday afternoon, President Obama stopped by the White House Rose Garden to inform Americans that he is the greatest human in history. Touting his redistributionist Paris Agreement on climate change, Obama stated, “History may judge today as the turning point for the planet” in the fight against climate change. This followed news that the European Union, Canada and Nepal had joined the agreement; last month, the United States and China said they would join the agreement.
The agreement itself is an abomination. It contains massive new proposed restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions, proposed energy-efficient regulations for buildings, use of the EPA to crack down on Obama-defined pollutants. According to David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation, “Restricting the use of conventional energy sources as laid out by the Obama Administration’s INDC will significantly harm the U.S. economy.” Heritage estimates a loss of 206,104 fewer manufacturing jobs between 2016 and 2040; a total income loss of $20,000 for a four-person family by 2035; a GDP loss of $2.5 trillion; and rising electricity costs between 13 and 20 percent.
But more of an abomination is the Obama administration’s insistence upon the use of the heretofore unknown “f*** you” provision of Article II of the Constitution, wherein the president can simply make up policy if Congress refuses to go along with him. Back in March 2015, White House press secretary Josh Earnest explicitly said that Obama would avoid submitting what is clearly a treaty to Congress, since, “I think it’s hard to take seriously from some Members of Congress who deny the fact that climate change exists, that they should have some opportunity to render judgment about a climate change agreement.”
Of course, the Constitution makes no provision for the president to simply ignore Congress because they disagree. That’s something dictators do. But that’s what the Obama administration has done, to the cheers of foreign nations (“We must find a formula which is valuable for everybody and valuable for the US without going to Congress” – French foreign minister Laurent Fabius).
The State Department has crafted a policy under which they claim that the Paris Agreement isn’t actually a treaty. But even under the State Department’s own policy, the Paris Agreement should count as a treaty for submission to Congress. The Agreement “involves commitments or risks affecting the US as a whole”; it will “affect state laws”; the treaty requires “enactment of subsequent legislation by the Congress,” including cash infusions to a slush fund; other similar agreements have been treated as treaties; Congresspeople clearly see this as a treaty; the agreement itself is fully formalized; the treaty took a lot of negotiation. As Steven Groves of The Heritage Foundation testified before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in February, “President Obama has placed his desire to achieve an international environmental “win” and bolster his legacy above historical U.S. treaty practice and intragovernmental comity. Major environmental treaties that have significant domestic impacts should not be developed and approved by the President acting alone.”
Congress should move to defund this monstrosity immediately. But perhaps that’s Obama’s entire goal: push this agreement as a non-treaty, then dare Congress to stop him. After all, it’s worked before. Congress even went so far as to hamstring itself from stopping the Iran nuclear deal, requiring a supermajority vote to even shut down the deal – as opposed to the Constitutional requirement of 67 votes to greenlight the deal.
Obama knows that Congress is utterly feckless, and that Congressional Democrats will allow him to play his games. The only question is whether Paul Ryan’s House will stop him. And that’s a dicey gamble at best.