Rand Paul: Executive action is OK when I agree with it

Executive action on immigration? Hell no! On Cuba? A-okay!

Published January 14, 2015 4:50PM (EST)

  (Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(Manuel Balce Ceneta)

After President Obama announced late last year that he would exercise his executive authority to spare up to 5 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation, Rand Paul was apoplectic, going so far as to liken the president's action to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“I care that too much power gets in one place. Why? Because there are instances in our history where we allow power to gravitate toward one person and that one person then makes decisions that really are egregious. Think of what happened in World War II where they made the decision," Paul said at the time. "The president issued an executive order. He said to Japanese people, ‘We’re going to put you in a camp. We’re going to take away all your rights and liberties and we’re going to intern you in a camp.’ We shouldn’t allow that much power to gravitate to one individual.”

In response, the Kentucky senator and likely GOP presidential candidate introduced legislation that would have undone Obama's executive action by proscribing the president from exercising executive discretion in deportations."I believe that the Constitution is clear that the legislative power resides in Congress," Paul said. "The President is not a king and he does not have the power to enact laws then execute his own laws. Our Constitution is being violated by this executive order and other actions by the Obama Administration to govern by executive fiat.”

But it turns out that Paul is quite alright with executive action when it comes to restoring American diplomatic relations with Cuba -- an Obama policy with which the senator just so happens to agree.

During a pre-campaign swing through New Hampshire today, Paul indicated that he believes the president's measures to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations fall within the executive's authority, BuzzFeed's Kate Nocera reports. “Diplomacy and where we have embassies I think have historically been part of the executive branch’s purview, so I don’t think they are analogous,” Paul told BuzzFeed.

Yet discretion in deportation has also "historically been part of the executive branch's purview." Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush both issued executive orders sparing some immigrants from deportation, moves that didn't raise GOP hackles at the time.

But there's historically accepted executive authority, and then there's historically accepted executive authority. Paul opposes Obama's immigration action, which thereby makes it a tyrannical power grab. Mercifully, however, the republic will survive America's rapprochement with Cuba.

By Luke Brinker

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