Eric Posner on Executive Power in The New Republic
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama vowed to act on his own if Congress did not do its part. Republicans duly took the bait. “We don’t have a monarchy in this country,” said Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana. “The abuse of power by the administration has only become more brazen,” said Senator Ted Cruz.
Obama has unsheathed the sword of executive power, and yet rather than use it to smite his foes, he seems intent on clipping hedges. He says he will raise the minimum wage for a few thousand employees of federal contractors, tinker with the pension system, trim red tape, cajole business leaders to fund pre-kindergarten education, and do something unspecified to help stop gun violence.
Obama begged Congress for help far more often than he vowed to go it alone. Obama’s significant acts of executive power—the Libya intervention, the refusal to defend DOMA before the Supreme Court, non-enforcement of the immigration law against certain groups, climate regulation, NSA surveillance, recess appointments, executive privilege, and so on—lie in the past.