U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, charged President Barack Obama on Friday with a pattern of "lawlessness on a breathtaking scale," which he said even liberal Democrats will come to regret when a future president seeks to exercise similar power.
Cruz, considered likely to run for president in 2016, told a gathering of about 600 people -- mostly politicos and policy wonks who represent the heart and soul of the Texas conservative Republican leadership -- that, from immigration to marijuana penalties to the health care law, the president has acted by executive fiat in defiance of the rule of law.
"We are a nation of laws and not men, and especially, especially, especially, those in political office are not above the law," Cruz said on the last day of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's "Policy Orientation for the Texas Legislature." "If we had a system where the president can pick and choose what laws to follow at utter whim and discretion, then the whole rest of the constitutional structure is superfluous. That's dangerous. That is seriously dangerous."
Cruz cited as one example the president's executive action -- without consulting Congress -- allowing 800,000 young immigrants who came to the United States illegally to remain in the country and work without fear of deportation. He said the history of the Affordable Care Act is attended by multiple examples of such disregard for law, including the waiver of the employer mandate by a year -- from 2014 to 2015 -- a major change that was announced in "a blog post by a midlevel bureaucrat in the Department of Treasury."
Cruz said what he characterized as the liberal media refuses to accurately report the threat to liberty of the Obama presidency, and it makes excuses for the president's overreaching.
He said, "If you're a liberal, if you're a Democrat, if you're a reporter for The New York Times, maybe you're saying, 'He's my guy. I root for my guy. I don't like some of the things he's doing, but he's basically my guy so he's OK.'"
But Cruz warned those with that mindset that they ought to consider that their "guy ain't gonna be there forever. If this president has that power, does the next one and the next one and the next one? And my message to all the Democrats and all the liberals is, what do you think about the next president, maybe a Republican, having the power Barack Obama has as a president who is not bound by the law?"
"If you love liberty, that should concern you greatly," Cruz said.
The annual Texas Public Policy Foundation conference in downtown Austin concluded with a speech by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who Cruz once served as solicitor general.
Abbott dismissed the Obama administration's new Promise Zone program, which has targeted five communities, including San Antonio's Eastside neighborhood, for revitalization.
"The truth is, we don't need Barack Obama's Promise Zones; we already have Promise Zones and they are called entrepreneurs," Abbott said. "Entrepreneurs and free markets have created far more jobs than any government program ever has or ever will, and Texas will continue to be the Promise Zone, the land of opportunity, because we will maintain our focus on policies that promote real job growth, policies that limit the size of government, that keep taxes low, that ensure that regulations remain smart and ensure we maintain the right-to-work laws that have enabled Texas to avoid the disasters of places like Detroit."
Abbott, a Republican who is running for governor, also said that the resistance in Texas to top-down regulation also should lead to a diminution in the power the state government holds over Texas localities.
"We rightfully bristle in Texas under dictates and mandates from Washington. Many of them are unconstitutional, illegal and simply don't work," Abbott said. "We must apply the same energy to ending the dictates and mandates from Austin, Texas, whether they concern economic issues or education issues. We must embrace the proven promise of freedom."
Speaking at the conference Thursday were 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Louisiana Republican governor Bobby Jindal, both considered possible presidential candidates in 2016.
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Original headline: Ted Cruz charges Obama with pattern of lawlessness
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