Presidents should get the power to declare economic emergencies along the lines to declare war, said former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday.

It might make sense to give “the president some ability to declare emergencies or take extraordinary actions and not put that all on the Fed,” Bernanke said at a conference. “The constitution gives the president significant flexibility to respond to military situations,” in part because they are chaotic, he noted.

“I am sure it is not politically possible, but it would be worth thinking about,” the former Fed chairman said.

– From the MarketWatch article: Presidents Should Be Able to Declare Economic Emergencies: Bernanke

For those of us who remain horrified and disgusted by the 2008-09 Federal Reserve and U.S. government bailout of the kleptocratic oligarchs who created the crisis, the above comments by the mastermind of this historic theft should be extremely concerning.

Although bankers and oligarchs got everything they wanted and more from the post crisis panic, what seems to bother Bernanke is that some of the response measures had to be pursued publicly. By calling for the U.S. President to declare economic emergencies in future crises, he is explicitly saying he doesn’t want Congress involved at all, even if just ceremonially. This man is a dyed in the wool fascist.

MarketWatch reports that:

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Presidents should get the power to declare economic emergencies along the lines to declare war, said former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday.

While the Fed retains the authority it needs to respond to another financial crisis, financial crises “tend to have a certain chaotic element to them,” that no one can predict, Bernanke said during a panel discussion sponsored by The Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy.

In light of this, it might make sense to give “the president some ability to declare emergencies or take extraordinary actions and not put that all on the Fed,” Bernanke said at a conference. “The constitution gives the president significant flexibility to respond to military situations,” in part because they are chaotic, he noted.

“I am sure it is not politically possible, but it would be worth thinking about,” the former Fed chairman said.

After the House initially rejected the proposal and stock markets tumbled, Congress reconsidered and the measure was signed into law and became the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

After coming across the above, I got to thinking about the process for declaring national emergencies. I performed a quick search and read a little bit about the National Emergencies Act of 1976. It was passed in response to a spate of national emergencies initiated by President Richard Nixon, and was intended to ensure Congress exerted more oversight on such declarations for obvious reasons.

Unsurprisingly, Congress hasn’t been doing its job. As USA Todaypointed out in a special report last year:

The 1976 law requires each house of Congress to meet within six months of an emergency to vote it up or down. That’s never happened.

Here are some additional excerpts:

In his six years in office, President Obama has declared nine emergencies, allowed one to expire and extended 22 emergencies enacted by his predecessors.

Since 1976, when Congress passed the National Emergencies Act, presidents have declared at least 53 states of emergency — not counting disaster declarations for events such as tornadoes and floods, according to a USA TODAY review of presidential documents. Most of those emergencies remain in effect.

Even as Congress has delegated emergency powers to the president, it has provided almost no oversight. The 1976 law requires each house of Congress to meet within six months of an emergency to vote it up or down. That’s never happened.

In May, President Obama rescinded a Bush-era executive order that protected Iraqi oil interests and their contractors from legal liability.Even as he did so, he left the state of emergency declared in that executive order intact — because at least two other executive orders rely on it.

Seriously?

Invoking those emergencies can give presidents broad and virtually unchecked powers. In an article published last year in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, attorney Patrick Thronson identified 160 laws giving the president emergency powers, including the authority to:

 Reshape the military, putting members of the armed forces under foreign command, conscripting veterans, overturning sentences issued by courts-martial and taking over weather satellites for military use.

• Suspend environmental laws, including a law forbidding the dumping of toxic and infectious medical waste at sea.

• Bypass federal contracting laws, allowing the government to buy and sell property without competitive bidding.

• Allow unlimited secret patents for Army, Navy and Air Force scientists.

All these provisions come from laws passed by Congress, giving the president the power to invoke them with the stroke of a pen. “A lot of laws are passed like that. So if a president is hunting around for additional authority, declaring an emergency is pretty easy,” Scheppele said.

 After President Richard Nixon declared two states of emergency in 17 months, Congress became alarmed by four simultaneous states of emergency.

It passed the National Emergencies Act by an overwhelming majority, requiring the president to cite a legal basis for the emergency and say which emergency powers he would exercise. All emergencies would expire after one year if not renewed by the president.

Bush’s Proclamation 7463 provides much of the legal underpinning for the war on terror. Bush cited that state of emergency, for example, in his military order allowing the detention of al-Qaeda combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and their trial by military commission.

The post-9/11 emergency declaration is in its 13th year. Eleven emergencies are even older.

The National Emergencies Act allows Congress to overturn an emergency by a resolution passed by both houses — which could then be vetoed by the president. In 38 years, only one resolution has ever been introduced to cancel an emergency.

Congress, useless as usual. Unless of course a corporate giveaway is crafted by lobbyists, in which case it flies through both chambers and becomes law instantaneously.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, President Bush declared a state of emergency allowing him to waive federal wage laws. Contractors rebuilding after the hurricane would not have to abide by the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires workers to be paid the local prevailing wage.

“The history here is so clear. The Congress hasn’t done much of anything,” said Harold Relyea, who studied national emergencies during a 37-year career at the Congressional Research Service. “Congress has not been the watchdog. It’s very toothless, and the partisanship hasn’t particularly helped.”

If anything, Congress may be inclined to give the president additional emergency powers. Legislation pending in Congress would allow the president to invoke an emergency to waive liability for health care providers and to sanction banks that do business with Hezbollah.

Scheppele, the Princeton professor, said emergencies have become so routine that they are “declared and undeclared often without a single headline.”

Bernanke may be a kleptocratic oligarch criminal, but stupid he is not. He knows exactly what kind of power an “economic emergency” would grant to the executive, which is exactly why he wants it to happen.

A Republic or Democracy this is not. 


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