Last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) announced he would take revenge for President Obama’s decision to make four recess appointments by engaging in a scorched earth campaign of obstruction against the president’s nominees. In his weekly address this weekend, Obama punched back:
Just two days ago, a senator from Utah promised to obstruct every single American I appoint to a judgeship or public service position – unless I fire the consumer watchdog I put in place to protect the American people from financial schemes or malpractice.
For the most part, it’s not that this senator thinks these nominees are unqualified. In fact, all of the judicial nominees being blocked have bipartisan support. And almost 90 percent have unanimous support from the Judiciary Committee.
Instead, one of his aides told reporters that the senator plans to, and I’m quoting here, “Delay and slow the process in order to get the President’s attention.”
Lee is, in many ways, the perfect foil to the president. While Obama wants nothing more than for the Senate to consider his nominees in a timely manner and give them an up or down vote, Lee’s short political career is marred by escalating displays of extremism and embarrassing overreach. A sample of Lee’s beliefs include:
- Child Labor Laws Are Unconstitutional: In 2010, Lee delivered a lengthy lecture on the Constitution where he praised a discarded 1918 Supreme Court decision holding that federal child labor laws violate the Constitution. In Lee’s words “This may sound harsh, but [the Constitution] was designed to be that way. It was designed to be a little bit harsh.”
- And So Is Social Security and Medicare: In the same lecture, Lee claimed that any federal program that provides health care or a retirement plan also violates the Constitution.
- And So Is Nearly Everything Else: Other things Mike Lee believes are unconstitutional include FEMA, food stamps, the FDA, and income assistance for the poor.
- The Constitution Needs A Depression Amendment: Lee is the lead sponsor of a radical constitutional amendment that would force such swift and draconian spending cuts that it would “throw about 15 million more people out of work, double the unemployment rate from 9 percent to approximately 18 percent, and cause the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent.”
- Extorting The American People: In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Lee admitted that he was engaged in a campaign of extortion to force Congress to enact his radical constitutional amendment during last year’s default crisis. Lee agreed that he wants the Senate “by a two-thirds vote, to pass a constitutional amendment or he want[s] the house to come down.”
- Corporate Slush Funds For Politicians: Lee also attempted to take Citizens United to an unheard of level by creating his own slush fund, bankrolled by unlimited corporate and other donations, which Lee could then dole out to other politicians who support his radical agenda.
- Sabotage: And, of course, let’s not forget that the entire reason why President Obama needed to make his recent recess appointments is because senators like Mike Lee were filibustering Obama’s nominees to sabotage entire agencies. In Lee’s words, “I feel it is my duty to oppose [CFPB Director Richard Cordray’s] confirmation as part of my opposition to the creation of CFPB itself.”