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President Barack Obama is running for re-election with an unusual pitch: He can’t work with others. 

He only gets along with yes men. “I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Obama said last Wednesday of his decision to make a “recess” appointment that placed Richard Cordray as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Constitution, of course, gives the president the power to make appointments during Senate recesses. Technically, however, the Senate was in session. The imperial president bypassed Senate rules and years of precedent because he wouldn’t or couldn’t cut a deal.

Later Wednesday, the White House announced three more recess appointments for vacant seats on the National Labor Relations Board. Obama explained, “When Congress refuses to act and, as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”

Obama, a former constitutional law professor, just kicked the Constitution’s delicate balance of powers by using the executive boot to step on the Senate’s power to advise and consent.

I understand the president’s frustration with the system. In December, 53 senators voted in Cordray’s favor, but under Senate rules, 60 votes are needed to bring his confirmation to an up-or-down floor vote. (Republican senators don’t have a problem with Cordray per se. They used his nomination in an attempt to roll back some of the regulatory powers and increase congressional oversight of the new consumer bureau, created in the Dodd-Frank law.)  read more

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