In October 2013 citizen Donald Trump explained to television host Greta Van Susteren what President Barack Obama needed to do to avoid a government shutdown. “So tell me,” asked Van Susteren, “if you were president, what would you do?” Trump answered, “You have to get everybody in a room. You have to be a leader. The president has to lead. He has to get everybody else in a room, and they have to make a deal.” Trump went on to say that “Unfortunately, [Obama] has never been a dealmaker.” Then, as president, Trump went on to preside over the longest government shutdown in history.
In January 2016, Trump said: “Obama is one of the worst negotiators on everything I’ve ever seen.” This from a man who turned down $25 billion for his wall last year, refused $1.7 billion last month causing a government shutdown, then settled for $1.375 billion last week.
On Nov. 20, 2014, Trump criticized Obama for using executive power on immigration to keep 800,000 immigrant children brought into the country by their parents from deportation. Trump tweeted, “Republicans must not allow President Obama to subvert the Constitution of the U.S. for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/Congress.” Now, as president, Trump plans to “subvert the Constitution of the US” and divert funds Congress assigned for one project to pay for a project Congress did not fund to his satisfaction.
Vice President Mike Pence stated in a 2014 speech to the National Republican Party that, “I think it would be a profound mistake for the President of the United States to overturn American immigration law with the stroke of a pen.” Pence went on to say that, “Signing an executive order, giving a speech, barnstorming around the country defending that executive order is not leadership.” Instead, Pence advised then-President Obama to sit down with Congress “and find a genuine common ground on border security.” I’m sure Pence will be sharing that advice with his boss.
Trump stated that he needed to declare an emergency on the southern border. Then he announced that “I didn’t need to do this” but he did anyway so that he could build his wall faster. I don’t know how that statement will hold up in a court. Then, after his emergency declaration, he flew to his vacation home in Florida. I guess you can’t let a “national emergency” get in the way of playing a little golf.
A CNN poll last week found that 66 percent of Americans did not want Trump to declare an emergency, but it is a priority for his political base and his favorite commentators on conservative television and radio. Ann Coulter, for example, was not happy with Trump for signing the budget bill to keep the government running and made it clear in numerous tweets calling him “gutless.” She also tweeted that the national emergency declared by Trump was designed “for Trump to scam the stupidest people in his base.” Trump responded by saying that he didn’t really know Coulter and that “she’s off the reservation.” Ouch!
ABC News, citing the Federal Register, said there have been 58 national emergencies declared since 1976 when the National Emergency Act of 1976 was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Gerald Ford. This act was intended to restrain the president’s ability to declare national emergencies following the Nixon administration. Examples of these emergencies include President Jimmy Carter’s Iran hostage crisis, President Bill Clinton’s prohibition of banking transitions with terrorists, President George W. Bush's 9/11 emergency, and President Obama’s emergencies to protect shipping from Somali pirates and in response to the Russian invasion of Crimea. As stated by Chris Wallace on Fox News, they were "real national emergencies."
I reviewed all 58 emergencies and I could not find one where the president wanted to transfer funds from one congressionally approved project to another after Congress refused to fund that second project to the satisfaction of the president.
If Trump considers the immigration situation on the southern border an emergency, how about we declare gun violence in America an emergency. After all, between 30,000 and 40,000 Americans are killed each year from gun violence. According to Amnesty International, “Among high-income counties, the United States accounts for 80 percent of all gun deaths in the world, 86 percent of all women killed by guns, and 87 percent of all children younger than 14 who are killed by guns.” These numbers are staggering and sound like a real emergency to me.