Ryan Calls Obama's Presidency 'Lawless'

But will not go as far as impeachment

On ABC Sunday, This Week host George Stephanopoulos interviewed Congressman Paul Ryan who blasted the president's abuse of executive orders, labeling his presidency "lawless" – but refused to go so far as to call for impeachment.

Though Ryan described Obama's habit of "circumventing the Constitution" a "dangerous trend," he laughed when Stephanopoulos suggested that he was angling for impeachment.

Stephanopoulos: Now, you've had a pretty tough reaction, suggesting the president's "circumventing the Constitution." Do you really think his proposals are unconstitutional? You know, his rate of executive orders is far behind President Reagan, President Bush, President Clinton. 

Ryan: It's not the number of executive orders, it's the scope of the executive orders. It's the fact that he's actually contradicting law, like in the health care case, or proposing new laws without going through Congress, George. That's the issue. [crosstalk] We have an increasingly lawless presidency, where he is actually doing the job of Congress, writing now policies and new laws without going through Congress. Presidents don't write laws, Congress does. And when he does things like he did in health care, delaying mandates that the law said was supposed to occur when they were supposed to occur, that's not his job. The job of Congress is to change laws if he doesn't like them, not the presidency. Executive orders are one thing, but executive orders that actually change the statute, that's totally different.

Stephanopoulos: But if you think he's lawless, circumventing the Constitution, are you going to move to impeach? 

Ryan: [Laughs] No, look, we have a difference of opinion, clearly. And some of these are going to get fought out in court; you have some court challenges with respect to religious freedom going to the court this Spring. But I am concerned about this trend, such as what he said at the State of the Union, that if Congress doesn't give me the law I want, I'm going to go do it myself that's effectively what he said. That is not the way our Constitution works. And by the way, when we get sworn in, whether it's a president or a congressman, you swear to uphold the Constitution and I think these executive orders are creating a dangerous trend which is contrary to the Constitution. 

"Contrary" is putting it lightly. Since the president is defying the law, the Constitution he swore to uphold, maybe Ryan should reconsider his answer to that impeachment question.

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