Jesse Jackson Jr: Congress is in Rebellion

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. believes the Congress is "in rebellion" and therefore President Obama should exercise extraordinary constititutional means" to implement a massive jobs plan.

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. believes the Congress is “in rebellion” and therefore President Obama should exercise extraordinary constititutional means” to implement a massive jobs plan.

“President Obama tends to idealize — and rightfully so — Abraham Lincoln, who looked at states in rebellion and he made a judgment that the government of the United States, while the states are in rebellion, still had an obligation to function,” Jackson added, “On several occasions now, we’ve seen … the Congress is in rebellion, determined, as Abraham Lincoln said, to wreck or ruin at all costs. I believe in the direct hiring of 15 million unemployed Americans at $40,000 a head, some more than $40,000, some less than $40,000 — that’s a $600 billion stimulus. It could be a five-year program. For another $104 billion, we bail out all of the states … for another $100 billion, we bail out all of the cities.”

He made these odd remarks in an interview with Nicholas Ballasy of The Daily Caller (“Jackson, Jr: Obama should ‘declare a national emergency,’ add jobs with ‘extra-constitutional’ action“). I was initially skeptical, since the Caller  is after all a partisan outlet, that these remarks were taken out of context. But they’ve provided this video which looks, to my untrained eye, to be a continuous discussion rather than a carefully edited hack job:

Jackson’s bold stimulus option is interesting and arguably makes more policy sense than Obama’s first stimulus of two years ago. But the notion that the president ought to implement a plan by fiat because he can’t get cooperation from the Congress is just batty.

It’s sane, however, compared to the notion that opposing Obama’s initiatives amounts to a rebellion tantamount to secession and shooting at federal troops.

While I’m frustrated at the degree to which Republican leaders in Congress have gone to gum up the works, the fact of the matter is that the nation is deeply divided on core issues of public policy. Having voted in 2006 and 2008 to throw out the Republicans, the public pivoted in 2010 and gave them back the House. They did so in good measure because they thought Obama and the Democrats overreached on the first stimulus.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Hey Norm says:

    I agree whole-heartedly about Congress in rebellion…the rest of it…not so much.
    Funny how liberal extremeists like this come off sounding a lot like the republican mainstream. Two republican candidates for President have talked about massive tax cuts…Santorum talked about corporation paying no taxes at all…Bachmann talked about how we shouldn’t have to pay taxes. So the liberal wingnuts want to take extreme measures to help the unemployed. And the republican mainstream wants to take similar extreme measures to help the wealthy.
    Doug’s always desperate to post pox-on-both-your-houses angles. There’s one for him.

  2. This is utter nonsense, not surprising considering the source,

  3. Rob in CT says:

    Yep, that’s a loony statement. I agree. Jesse Jr. is taking an extremist position here and that view should get no traction at all.

    And it won’t.

    Do you know why? Because other Democrats will agree that it’s loony.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Representative democracy is institutionalized rebellion so Congressman Jackson is right in that sense. However, should the president engage in extra-Constitutional means to enact his policies, the Congress should engage in intra-Constitutional means to stop him. Unless the congressman is proposing that the president declare a state of martial law any other declaration of a state of emergency is not within the president’s powers.

    As to his stimulus proposal, you might recall that from time to time I’ve suggested things along those lines, for example, when the federal government moved to bail out GM and Chrysler. IIRC Keynes proposed the government as the hirer of last resort rather than the consumer of last resort as today’s neo-Keynesians would have it.

  5. Jay Tea says:

    The Congress is in “rebellion” because they seem to think they are a co-equal branch of the government, and aren’t showing the proper deference to the president?

    I wonder what JJJ would call the 2007 Congress and its treatment of the president then…


  6. PD Shaw says:

    I have no idea what Jesse Jackson Jr. thinks Abraham Lincoln did that is at all analogous. Southern Congressman simply didn’t show up (except for Andrew Johnson), they couldn’t block legislation, which is almost completely the opposite situation here. When Harry Reid calls for a vote when Republicans would rather stay at home, they have to scurry to their seats to record their vote.

    It sounds to me like Jesse Jackson Jr. is preaching disunion, and in the process abusing Lincoln’s memory. Shame, shame.

  7. Neo says:

    “I hope the president continues to exercise extraordinary constitutional means, based on the history of Congresses that have been in rebellion in the past,” Jackson said. “He’s looking administratively for ways to advance the causes of the American people, because this Congress is completely dysfunctional.”

    “Continues to exercise extraordinary constitutional means” ?
    Does this mean that there is a rebellion ? … by the Tea Party ? .. or OWS ?

  8. mattb says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Representative democracy is institutionalized rebellion so Congressman Jackson is right in that sense.

    Compliments on a really thought provoking sentence! Thanks.

  9. bandit says:

    And the republican mainstream wants to take similar extreme measures to help the wealthy.

    Like what? Voting?

  10. Hey Norm says:

    @ Bandit…
    Abolishing Medicare to provide more tax cuts on top of historically low effective tax rates doesn’t strike you as extreme?
    Never mind…Stupid question…I forgot for a minute that you’re the guy/girl who thinks the money you are paying into SS is the money that will pay your benefits.
    Well at least 60% of the nation thinks it is anyway.

  11. At some point Jess Jackson should just openly admit his admiration for facsism- a lot of people like it, so it’s not like he’d be out on a limb- there are even some major politicians who talk about the ‘third way’ between communism and capitalism, which is when government works with big business and labor unions to put in place policies that support the ‘People’, combined with worship of individuals in the political system and a desire to have no more partisanship and be environmentally friendly (all fascism).

  12. Rob in CT says:

    Where does “environmentally friendly” fit in with facism?

    Corporate + Governmental merger yes, that fits fine, but how is pro-environment fascist? Is this some reference to Hitler supporting some obstensibly pro-environment measure once or something?

  13. MBunge says:

    “the fact of the matter is that the nation is deeply divided on core issues of public policy.”

    Putting Jackson Jr.’s nonsense about rebellion to the side, it simply isn’t true the nation is deeply divided on most or all core issues of public policy. We know that because when you poll them on policy issues, divorced from partisan politics, there are many, many, many areas where there’s a majority or clear plurality of the public in favor of one option over another. And that’s even true for supposedly divisive issues. For example, every poll taken in just about every way shows most of the public favors tax increases on the rich. The reason those taxes aren’t going up has nothing to do with a deeply divided public.


  14. Dave Schuler says:

    Echoing MBunge, above, I sometimes wonder whether the divisions between Republicans and Democrats are as sharp as those between most Americans and members of Congress.

  15. Andyman says:

    It’s useful for someone in a safe district to be putting markers down on the left. Conservatives have been playing this game for some time: someone like Steve King mouths off with the nonsense of the day, we all shake our heads and cluck-cluck, but nonetheless it’s in the public’s subconscious that that nonsense is in the spectrum of ideas that an elected official has had. Elected progressives, meanwhile, have mostly taken pains to make the sort of reasonable and measured statements that they think will appeal to moderate independents. That might win you a swing district here and there but loses the policy debate.

  16. Diane says:

    You have got to be kidding me. If the president chooses to override congress, that goes against the core values of this country. There are 3 branches of the government for a reason people! It was set up that way so we do not have a dictatorship! This is absolutely insane! Forget about a congress in rebellion, how about a president that promotes tyranny! Jessie Jackson Jr. and all the other leftists/socialist/communist need to be put on notice that American will not tolerate any further transgression upon our liberties, freedoms and our most sacred document, the US Constitution!

  17. Diane says:

    And just to clarify for those of you complaining about the rich not paying enough. Lets be clear, the top 20 percent in the income scale pay 80 percent of the taxes in this country. These are businesses and business owners. We should give them a break so they can create jobs! Of course why would we want to do that, then the people complaining about them not paying enough taxes may actually have to go to work!

  18. An Interested Party says:

    Lets be clear, the top 20 percent in the income scale pay 80 percent of the taxes in this country.

    This lie, yet again…

  19. MBunge says:

    “Lets be clear, the top 20 percent in the income scale pay 80 percent of the taxes in this country.”

    Let’s stop and think about this for a second. George W. Bush kicked off the new century with a huge tax cut. Despite conservative fantasies to the contrary, Barack Obama has neither repealed that tax cut nor raised taxes in any other significant way. So, if after the Bush tax cuts, which have been hailed and praised by virtually every Republican out there, the top 20% were still paying 80% of the taxes, it must be because that 20% simply has that much more money than everybody else. There’s no other explanation.


  20. Terri says:

    Jackson’s advocating Marshall Law is just a part of the coming plans to suspend elections and keep Obama in power and answering to no one. Recall that we recently heard another dem, (North Carolina Governor Beverly Purdue) recommend that elections be suspended – so the representatives don’t have to answer to the people.

  21. Andyman says:


    It’s “martial” law, not the rule of someone named Marshall.