President Obama has already displayed a keen eye for wielding executive authority when Congress won’t act. Where will he take this in a second term?
Excerpted from Townhall Magazine’s February feature, “Obama’s Ace: The Executive Order,” by Joel Gehrke:
“We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job,” President Obama said in October 2011, after the legislators refused to pass his latest stimulus bill, The American Jobs Act. “Where they won’t act, I will.” Two hundred years ago, a president who claimed that he could implement laws Congress refused to pass might have gotten laughed out of town by the revolutionaries who repudiated a king and founded a representative government.
Times have changed. “Stroke of the pen, law of the land— kinda cool,” then-Clinton aide Paul Begala said in 1998. A century of presidential power-grabs and congressional weakness has distorted the separation of powers to the point that presidents possess a variety of instruments to implement their policies.