Using Executive Orders to Move the Agenda

by Matthew Freeman

CPR's Rena Steinzor and Amy Sinden have an op-ed in this morning's Baltimore Sun urging President Obama to make aggressive use of Executive Orders leading to regulation action to protect health, safety and the environment.  They write:

Barack Obama's ambitions are clear. He came to office in 2009 on the strength of a far-reaching, progressive agenda that included resurrecting the economy, rebuilding the American middle class, ending one war, winning another, stopping the Bush-era tax giveaways to the rich, fixing the health care system, addressing global warming, ending "Don't ask, don't tell," and more.

Four years on, despite the bitter partisan divide that defines politics in our age, he's made progress on most fronts, to his great credit. But if he is to make further advances on his agenda, odds are he'll need to do it without much help from Congress. Let's face it: If the fiscal cliff battle tells us anything, it's that the spanking congressional Republicans took from voters last month did little to diminish their appetite for confrontation and gridlock. As a result, great legislative achievements don't seem to be in the cards for either party any time soon.

So what might the president accomplish on his own? Plenty. If, that is, he's willing to use every bit of executive power he can marshal, by directing the regulatory agencies of his administration to move with dispatch to regulate and enforce in a number of vital areas.

The piece draws on their recent CPR Issue Alert, Protecting People & the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen, written with fellow Member Scholar Robert Glicksman, CPR Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Shudtz, and Policy Analysts James Goodwin and Michael Patoka.  The op-ed and the Issue Alert map out a way for the President to secure a legacy on environmental, health and safety issues, and are well worth a read.



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