August 2, 2014 at 1:00 am


Other writers on Friedman, the president and the border

Friedman still worth quoting

Rob Nikolewski, writing for The Daily Signal : Harry Truman once complained he wanted to find a one-handed economist because he was tired of asking a direct question of those on his economic team, only to have them say, “On the one hand … but on the other hand.”

If there was one hand that noted economist Milton Friedman favored, it was the “invisible hand” of the free market. This week marks the 102nd anniversary of Friedman’s birth. He died in 2006.

Friedman won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976.

Here’s a look at some of Friedman’s most notable quotes:

■“The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.”

■“Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.”

■“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

■“When everybody owns something, nobody owns it, and nobody has a direct interest in maintaining or improving its condition. That is why buildings in the Soviet Union — like public housing in the United States — look decrepit within a year or two of their construction. …”

■“Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.”

■“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

■“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

Separation of powers

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Elizabeth Price Foley, writing in The Wall Street Journal : “So sue me” is President Barack Obama’s message to Congress. And on Wednesday the House of Representatives took up his taunt, authorizing a lawsuit to challenge the president’s failure to faithfully execute provisions of the Affordable Care Act as passed by Congress. The House lawsuit is no “stunt,” as Obama has characterized it.

The lawsuit is necessary to protect the Constitution’s separation of powers, a core means of protecting individual liberty. Without a judicial check on unbounded executive power to suspend the law, this president and all who follow him will have a powerful new weapon to destroy political accountability and democracy itself.

Article I of the Constitution vests all legislative power in Congress. Article II imposes a duty on the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.“ When a law is unambiguous, the president cannot rewrite it to suit his own preferences. “The power of executing the laws,” as the Supreme Court emphasized in June in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, “does not include a power to revise clear statutory terms that turn out not to work in practice.” If a law has defects, fixing them is Congress’ business.

These barriers between the branches are not formalities. They were designed to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in one branch.

The barriers also reflect the Framers’ belief that some powers are better suited for a particular branch of government because of its institutional characteristics.

A blunder on the border

Joel Gehrke, writing for National Review : President Obama issued a veto threat Wednesday night against a House bill that included a change to a 2008 human-trafficking law that his administration originally suggested was exacerbating the border crisis.

That awkward development stemmed in part from the Obama team’s inability, so far, to convince congressional Democrats to support any policy changes as part of a supplemental-funding bill to address the border crisis.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell reached out to moderate Republican senators this week about what it would take to broker a deal.

“I talked with Sylvia Burwell earlier today and I told her that [changing the 2008 law] was going to be something that was absolutely essential to try to get the Senate to do anything on the border issue,” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., told National Review Online on Tuesday. “She was asking me for advice.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says she made the same point when Burwell called her. The senators wouldn’t characterize Burwell’s comments in the private conversation. The late-stage outreach suggests that Obama’s team, wanting to secure supplemental funding, is still willing to consider making border-policy changes that might be necessary to bring Republicans on board.

Another congressional Democrat said Obama’s aides were talking to small groups of Democrats, trying to find out whether they would support the White House in negotiating on policy changes.

“I think it’s important and I think it’s worthwhile, because I think the administration doesn’t want to have anything blow up in its face,” Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., told NRO on Friday. “There would be a reaction if some of us were not in on it.”