President Barack Obama has nearly reached the limit to the executive orders he can issue on major policies without the approval of Congress, according to Politico
The president is preparing for his State of the Union address next week, which will be the first time he will speak in front of the assembly when the GOP controls both the Senate and the House.
Republicans and Democrats alike will be anxious to learn what Obama has to say, due to the difficulty he faces coming up with policy proposals that will pass Congress during his final two years in the Oval Office.
According to Politico, the White House knows that although Obama still may want to "grab the public’s attention," there are only a limited number of executive options he can make without getting the support of Republican lawmakers.
"Want to make community college cheaper? Obama just rolled out a plan to make it free for two years, but he needs Congress to sign off on it, and he’s not going to get that," wrote the political news website’s David Nather.
"Raise the minimum wage? Obama has already issued an executive order to do that for federal contractors, but a federal minimum wage hike is as dead in the new Congress as it was in the last one.
"Universal pre-school? Rebuild the nation’s crumbling bridges and highways? Fix the Voting Rights Act now that the Supreme Court threw out part of it? Nope — he needs Congress for all of those things, too."
Instead of "big bang" projects like his unilateral order giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, Obama is mulling over "softer goals" that he may reveal during his speech, according to Politico.
"I think there is still real opportunity to be creative and look for additional places where we can act," said one senior official.
But Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress, said that Obama, in particular, will have a tough time reshaping economic policy that will find support in the GOP-led chambers.
"It’s great that the president is looking to use all the tools in his toolkit," Martin said. "But he does need help from Congress to really address people’s needs."
And while noting that Obama may use executive orders on certain issues, Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, said that they will not be able to fix Obama’s No. 1 priority.
"Nothing is more important to his legacy than making sure that economic growth works for everyone," Marshall said.
But Democrats warned that the GOP should not underestimate the commander in chief’s ability to get things done in the latter part of his presidency.
"I think a lot of people would have said before the immigration announcement that he probably wouldn’t have been able to do something that big," said Austan Goolsbee, a former chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.
On the other hand, Politico pointed out that despite what Obama says in his next week’s address he will have a hard time actually implementing his plans.
"Obama’s record of achieving his State of the Union proposals is mixed at best, and most of his biggest agenda items from last year are still unfinished — from tax reform and infrastructure spending to trade authority, a federal minimum wage increase, a national equal pay law, universal preschool, and surveillance reform," wrote Nather.
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