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Obama’s Legacy: Increased Executive Branch Power

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 14, 2016

When asked about Barack Obama’s legacies, supporters will universally list Obamacare as number one.  As for the problems the country faces, Obama has had a Teflon coat with supporters either ignoring the issues or blaming them on his predecessors.  Problems include the growth of international terrorism, the Middle East in flames, and significantly increased racial tensions in the Country.  Under the radar is perhaps one of the most dangerous Obama legacy; significantly increased power within the presidency and executive branch of government.

The New York Times published an article by Applebaum and Schear titled Once Skeptical of Executive Power, Obama Has Come to Embrace It that chronicles Obama’s power grab.  The article concludes that Obama, who prior to becoming president was publicly critical of executive power, has since embraced it stating: “Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history.”

The Times also states:

  • “Blocked for most of his presidency by Congress, Mr. Obama has sought to act however he could. In the process he created the kind of government neither he nor the Republicans wanted — one that depended on bureaucratic bulldozing rather than legislative transparency.”
  • “The Obama administration in its first seven years finalized 560 major regulations — those classified by the Congressional Budget Office as having particularly significant economic or social impacts. That was nearly 50 percent more than the George W. Bush administration during the comparable period, according to data kept by the regulatory studies center at George Washington University.”
  • “The Obama Era …. And it has imposed billions of dollars in new costs on businesses and consumers.”

obamaThe Times offers concern with the growth of the executive branch and regulations quoting Robert Hahn, a regulatory expert at Smith School at the University of Oxford: “The big issue that I grapple with is that the regulatory state keeps growing.  And as it keeps growing, when does it become too much?”  We have already crossed that chasm.  On the economic front the country has been in the midst of the slowest recovery since the Great Depression.  Socially, the dissatisfaction in the inner cities is at a level not seen in decades.

Since embracing increased executive authority, Barack Obama has spoken arrogantly of this power stating: “an increasingly dysfunctional Congress: … Where they won’t act, I will.”  In addition: “Whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”  These are remarkable statements from someone supposedly expert in the Constitution.  The Constitution divides our government into three branches, equally dividing power.  Its purpose is clear, to stop any branch or individual from having their way with law, irrespective of the validity or quality of their proposed action.

While the Obama power grab and myriad of regulations are negatively impacting the country now, there is a more sinister impact to come.  Future presidents will be intoxicated by power and likely bring more authority to the Executive Branch, at the expense of individual freedom for Americans.

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