President Obama on Wednesday signed legislation that raises taxes on the wealthiest Americans and avoids the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which threatened to send the economy into decline.
The White House said late Wednesday that Obama reviewed a copy of the bill in Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family. The president instructed that the legislation — passed by the House and Senate earlier this week — be signed by autopen, a device that emulates Obama’s signature.
Before leaving for Hawaii on Wednesday to rejoin his family, who vacationed there over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, Obama said the passage of the law fulfilled a campaign promise to raise taxes on the wealthy.
Fox News explains more about the autopen:
The autopen is a mechanical device that copies the president’s signature. According to the White House Executive Clerk’s Office, the bill was sent to Obama in PDF form Wednesday afternoon, and was signed via autopen once Obama approved it.
Obama is the first president to sign bills electronically, and has signed two previous pieces of legislation using the technology.
The president arrived in Honolulu before 5 a.m. local time Wednesday and immediately rejoined his family in their rented beachside vacation home in Kailua, a picturesque Honolulu suburb on the east side of Oahu. Kailua Beach is a popular place for wind sports and paddle surfing.
Obama and his family had spent several days, including Christmas Day, at the secluded compound before he returned to Washington on Dec. 26 for the fiscal cliff negotiations.
Well, he made passage of the fiscal cliff bill sound “urgent” – but apparently him sitting down to sign it wasn’t as urgent as returning to the beautiful sands of Hawaii.
Quite frankly, the “autopen” – which has been used a total of three times under this President, including on this piece of legislation – scares the hell out of me, almost as much as the “nuclear button” does. Who has access to it? How is it secured? Is it even Constitutional?
Twitchy.com documented some serious and not so serious questions and commentary about Obama’s use of the autopen, which included intriguing background info from respected CBS journalist Mark Knoller. On the humorous side, there is now a Twitter account with the @The_Autopen handle. That said, Derek A. Hunter had probably what was and is the best tweet on the controversy:
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) January 2, 2013
And don’t forget paddle surfing.