White House weighing how many executive orders President Obama can reasonably get away with

posted at 2:01 pm on February 11, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The White House, apparently miffed by the inaugural speech’s general reception as grossly out-of-touch and aggressively liberal, is all set to “pivot” back to jobs and the economy in the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night — meaning that we’ll once again have the honor, nay, the privilege to hear all about Obama’s old-and-tired “we need to tax the wealthy even further to finance the government ‘investments’ that will spur economic growth” balanced approach, or something.

But all of those hyper-progressive promises on climate change, immigration, and etcetera are still very much at the forefront of his agenda, and even if those dastardly obstructionist Republican lawmakers won’t allow big moves on them through the legislative channels, no doubt the White House wants everyone to Rest Assured that they are actively Doing Something to act where Congress refuses to cooperate. Ergo, it’s back to the ol’ executive-order and agency-rulemaking playbook.

WaPo reports:

President Obama is considering a series of new executive actions aimed at working around a recalcitrant Congress, including policies that could allow struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages, provide new protections for gays and lesbians, make buildings more energy-efficient and toughen regulations for coal-fired power plants, according to people outside the White House involved in discussions on the issues. …

These and other potential actions suggest that Obama is likely to rely heavily on executive powers to set domestic policy in his second term. One White House official said that while the president does not see the actions as substitutes for more substantial legislation, he also wants to move forward on top priorities. …

“It is a very dangerous road he’s going down contrary to the spirit of the Constitution,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a recent interview. “Just because Congress doesn’t act doesn’t mean the president has a right to act.” …

In the months ahead, some people close to the White House said Obama must weigh the prospect of making progress on his priorities with the risk that acting aggressively could hurt the chances for more substantial legislation on Capitol Hill.

Even if few of these executive orders don’t have the huge, sweeping mega-policy implications that President Obama undoubtedly wishes he could bring about (we’re all too familiar with his penchant for grand legislative overhauls, hem hem), they are at least specific action items with which he can appease his various interest groups  — at the expense of continually inflicting the type of top-down hindrances on our economy that the president can’t seem to get enough of, as Jennifer Rubin notes in her SOTU rundown. Come on, now: Unilateral executive orders aimed at even more stringent and broadened environmental regulations? Still more federal interference in the housing market? Yes, I’m sure those will do wonders for our economic growth. Womp.

President Obama refuses to pursue the measures that would promote growth, such as tax reform (not simply another tax hike) or entitlement reform, which would curtail long-term debt. But the problem is worse than simply neglecting pro-growth policies.

It is not simply policy sins of omission but Obama’s own wish list that is the barrier to more growth and job creation. His top-heavy welfare state is toppling over while the private-sector economy suffers from regulatory overload, a corporate tax code that puts us at a disadvantage internationally and the burgeoning debt (with a no-interest-rate Fed policy). …

The Obama “recovery” is actually five years of the worst economy since the Great Depression.


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