The Economist has just reported on President Barack Obama’s highly anticipated speech last night, with the article titled “Barack Obama runs a red light.” Did he? And if so, can he? And has this been done before?
According to Ryan Barilleaux and Jewerl Maxwell: “Presidents make a variety of substantive decisions and issue executive orders, directives, proclamations, and—with growing frequency—signing statements. To stifle attempts—usually from Congress—to inhibit unilateral or other executive actions, presidents also invoke executive privilege to withhold information and usually meet with success. Indeed, the use of prerogative power has been a characteristic feature of the postmodern presidency (the period from Ronald Reagan forward), and presidential unilateralism flows from several sources” (Tough Times for the President, p. 13).
It should also be noted that earlier Republican President “Bush was also unable to win congressional approval for an immigration reform plan. Earlier in his presidency, different proposals had been passed by the House and Senate, but none was able to win support by both chambers. When the Democrats assumed the majority on Capitol Hill, some observers thought Bush would be able to work out a compromise with Congress. But a bipartisan bill on the issue—the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act—failed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate in June 2007. At this point Bush called on senators to give the bill a chance, and the measure was taken up for consideration later that month. Despite his efforts, however, opposition to the bill’s provision of a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the United States illegally led to its defeat.” (p.74)
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