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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mixed Messages on Executive Orders

President Obama has sent mixed messages on executive orders and the separation of powers.

During a speech on November 25, 2013, an audience member called on him to act unilaterally:
Audience member. Executive order.
The President. And that—[applause]. And somebody keeps on yelling, "Executive order." [Laughter] Is this the—well, it turns out—[laughter]. The reason—I'm going to actually pause on this issue because a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem—[laughter]—which is, just sign an Executive order, and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress. And unfortunately——
Audience member. Yes!
The President. Well, wait, wait, wait, before everybody starts clapping—[laughter]. That's not how it works. We got this Constitution. We got this whole thing about separation of powers and branches. And so we got to—there is no shortcut to politics. And there's no shortcut to democracy. And there's—we have to win on the merits of the argument with the American people. As laborious as it seems sometimes, as much misinformation as there is out there sometimes, as frustrating as it may be sometimes, what we have to do is just keep on going, keep on pushing. And eventually, we move in a better direction.
On January 16, 2014, he said:  "Now, I'm going to be working with Congress where I can to accomplish this, but I'm also going to act on my own if Congress is deadlocked. I've got a pen to take executive actions where Congress won't, and I've got a telephone to rally folks around the country on this mission."