An in-depth examination of the administration’s actions and plans, agency by agency, regulation by regulation, reveals an executive power play that’s broad and bold — and intensely ambitious. Far more than he let on in the State of the Union, the president has marshaled the tools of his office to advance policies, many unabashedly liberal, that push deep into everyday life for tens of millions of Americans.
He wants to change how power plants operate. And what we buy for lunch. How we travel to work. And how our kids learn math. How our gasoline is formulated. How we light our aquariums.
Already, the president’s team has enacted 300 economically significant regulations, far more than Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan did in comparable periods. Some of those rules are driven by the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank banking reform, the two big laws Obama pushed through Congress early in his first term, when he had Democratic majorities in both houses. But there is far more.
(Also on POLITICO: SOTU 2014: What he said, what he meant)
When Congress wouldn’t support a climate change bill, the administration moved on its own to push the energy industry away from coal and toward green alternatives. The executive branch found a way to drive tremendous change in public schools, too — though education is typically under local control — by holding tight to billions in much-needed funding, and doling it out only to states that pledged to follow the administration’s prescriptions for reform. A tweak to a transportation grant formula even gave the administration influence over local urban planning; streetcars, all of a sudden, are popping up everywhere.