What About The Spending Power?
Bill Moyers' interview of Bruce Fein and impeachment proponent John Nichols is illustrative of how the impeachment movement gives short shrift to the most effective tool for checking an out of control President - the Spending Power. Nichols in particular is so hot for saying the word impeachment that he utterly ignores the most effective check on Executive Power the Founders intended and provided. Look at this exchange:
BRUCE FEIN: . . . [W]e do find this peculiarity that Congress is giving up powers voluntarily. Because there's nothing right now, Bill, that would prevent Congress from the immediate shutting down all of George Bush's and Dick Cheney's illegal programs. Simply saying there's no money to collect foreign intelligence-
BILL MOYERS: The power of the purse-
BRUCE FEIN: --the power of the purse. That is an absolute power. And yet Congress shies from it. It was utilized during the Vietnam War, you may recall, in 1973. Congress said there's no money to go and extend the war into Laos and Cambodia. And even President Nixon said okay. This was a president who at one time said, "If I do it, it's legal." So that it we do find Congress yielding the power to the executive branch. It's the very puzzle that the founding fathers would have been stunned at. They worried most over the legislative branch in, you know, usurping powers of the other branches. And--
BILL MOYERS: Well, what you just said indicts the Congress more than you're indicting George Bush and Dick Cheney.BRUCE FEIN: In some sense, yes, because the founding fathers expected an executive to try to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch. And you're right. They have basically renounced-- walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check. It's not an option. It's an obligation when they take that oath to faithfully uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. . . .
Absolutely correct. And guess what. This is the most serious threat to the checks and balances of the Constitution. This is what we should be screaming about. This is what we should be demanding from the Congress. And guess what, if exercised by a Democratic Congress, without the support of Republicans, it will be effective. It will stop the excesses. Stop the Iraq Debacle.
But what do impeachment proponents care more about? This:
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