Michael Barone

Sometimes it seems like things are upside down.

Barack Obama and his Obamacare administrators are continually making laws, through blogpost (suspending the employer mandate) and bulletin (suspending the individual mandate).

This, even though the Framers of the Constitution said that it was Congress that would make the laws; the president is just supposed to faithfully execute them.

Meanwhile, members of Congress are, on one issue, moving to make foreign policy -- something that for more than a century has been largely left to presidents.

This became apparent last week when 26 senators, 13 Democrats and 13 Republicans, co-sponsored a bill to increase sanctions on Iran.

This is not a new idea. The House voted to increase sanctions last July. And it was sanctions, and the threat of increased sanctions, that surely drove Iran's leaders to the negotiating table where they hammered out an interim agreement with Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva in November.

That agreement, however, left members of Congress of both parties -- and the public -- dissatisfied. For the first time the U.S. recognized, tacitly, Iran's right to continue possessing the centrifuges used to enrich uranium up to the levels needed to produce a nuclear bomb.

It does not take much time or effort to increase the level of enrichment from current to bomb-ready levels.

The agreement leaves a final agreement to be negotiated in six months. But that six-month period only begins when some still unsettled issues are agreed on.

So Iran has more than six months, as things currently stand, to advance its nuclear program -- during which time sanctions will be softened and economic pressure on the mullah regime will be reduced.

The public, which tended to give Barack Obama and his foreign policy positive marks during his first term, has tended to oppose Kerry's Iran agreement, polls show. Evidently many ordinary citizens who don't follow issues closely share the fear of many well-informed members of Congress that the United States is giving up too much and gaining too little.

The sponsors of the Senate sanctions legislation include leading Democrats, like Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez and New York's Charles Schumer, who has been something of a consigliere for Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Six of the 13 Democratic co-sponsors are up for reelection in 2014, as are four of the 13 Republicans (another Republican is retiring).


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM