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Clinton may rely on executive orders more than Obama if she wins

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the American Legion’s 98th Annual Convention at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON » Hillary Clinton may have to rely on executive actions to an unprecedented degree to secure major policy accomplishments if she’s elected president, and the Democratic Party’s left wing intends to hold her feet to the fire to make sure she does just that.

In anticipation of becoming the first Democratic president in more than a century to take office without full control of Congress, Clinton is campaigning on promises to take far-reaching and legally contentious unilateral actions that go beyond the steps taken by President Barack Obama. They include giving work permits to 5 million undocumented immigrants, requiring background checks for purchases of firearms online or at gun shows, imposing long-term limits on climate-warming emissions and closing a tax loophole that benefits hedge fund managers.

“She needs to demonstrate to the base that, one way other another, she’s actually going to get something done,” said Jim Manley, a former adviser to Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. “They feel — wrongly, in my opinion — that this president hasn’t done enough. So she’s not going to fall for that trap.”

It’s “unusual” for presidential candidates to tout executive actions, said Norm Ornstein, a political scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, because they typically assume disputes will be resolved through the legislative process. “This is making it clear that she understands the legislative process is pretty much broken,” he said.

Ornstein said there are some issues she may be able to move bipartisan legislation on in her first few months, such as an infrastructure package, changes to the tax code or a fix to ailing Affordable Care Act exchanges.

“Other than that, she’s going to be doing just what Obama did, which is getting as much done as possible with executive power,” Ornstein said.

After he secured major legislative achievements with Democratic majorities in his first two years, Obama resorted to executive actions during his second term. Accusing him of running an “imperial presidency,” Republicans pushed back on Obama using legislation and lawsuits, and they intend to keep up the heat if a President Hillary Clinton follows in his footsteps.

“A big part of the House’s ‘Better Way’ agenda is restoring Congress’ powers and asserting checks on executive power, and we’ll pursue those reforms regardless of who is in the White House,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, said in an email.

Clinton’s persistent and significant lead in the polls has congressional Republicans resigned to having her in the White House, with many actively discussing how to deal with her presidency, according to senior House aides.

Michael Steel, a former spokesman for ex-House Speaker John Boehner and a top adviser to Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign, said he hopes Clinton’s time in the Senate will make her a president who is “more respectful of the limited role of executive power under our Constitution, and follow her husband’s example finding common ground on issues like balancing the budget and welfare reform in the 1990s.”

“If she does not, I expect the pushback from congressional Republicans will be swift, fierce and unrelenting,” Steel said.

Even if Democrats win the White House and Senate, polls indicate Republicans are likely to maintain control of the House. The probability of that scenario has prompted progressive groups, who showed their clout in the Democratic primary, to ratchet up the pressure on Clinton.

“With an intransigent Republican Congress still more likely than not, we hope Secretary Clinton will use all the tools at her disposal as president, including executive action, to pursue the progressive platform she’s running on,” said Dan Cantor, the national director of Working Families Party. “One example is the carried interest loophole, which gives an insane tax cut for the super-rich that they do not need.”

Clinton has vowed to protect Obama’s executive actions — including those on immigration, climate change, gun control and LGBT rights — and go further. She’d expand deportation relief and work permits to the parents of young undocumented immigrants. She’s vowed to fulfill commitments made in the Paris climate accord to cut U.S. greenhouse-gas emission as much as 30 percent in 2025 (compared to 2005 levels) “without relying on climate deniers in Congress to pass new legislation.”

Clinton has also proposed a series of actions to crack down on Wall Street, an issue that animated supporters of her primary challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She’d tighten the so-called Volcker Rule to prevent large banks from putting taxpayers on the hook for risky trading. People on Wall Street who commit crimes “will be prosecuted and imprisoned,” her blueprint says.

Clinton’s proposed executive actions on Wall Street could be “extremely consequential” when it comes to preventing another financial crisis, said former Obama White House economist Jared Bernstein.

Some of Obama’s executive actions have been successfully challenged in court; his 2014 move to shield about four million undocumented immigrants from deportation was blocked a federal court, and a deadlocked 4-4 ruling by a shorthanded Supreme Court left the program in limbo.

Clinton also would face certain legal challenges, but the vacancy left on the court by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia looms large. A Clinton appointee would lead to a majority of Democratic-nominated justices for the first time in generations, a shift that some legal scholars believe might lead to rulings that expand the limits of executive power.

A Clinton campaign spokesman didn’t return requests seeking comment for this article.

If the Republican majority shrinks in the House, it likely will come at the expense of more moderate members in swing districts, giving even more power to the party’s most conservative wing. That may be a recipe for continued legislative paralysis.

“You’re going to have a party struggling to regain its mojo. How do you do that? You look to how you can score a big victory in the next election,” Ornstein said. “Well, they have a playbook for that. Delegitimize the president and the process; capitalize on the angry populist reaction.”

And in the most optimistic scenario, in which Democrats win a narrow House majority, many new members will be from Republican-leaning districts, thus creating an incentive to distance themselves from Clinton. “You’d have a lot of members who are going to be running scared,” Ornstein said.

Despite Clinton’s strong relationships with numerous Republicans in Congress from her two terms in the Senate, structural incentives will make cooperation difficult. Obama received scant GOP cooperation despite taking office with clear majority of votes and a towering approval rating of 68 percent, according to Gallup. Clinton’s latest favorable rating is 40 percent. Her intense unpopularity among GOP voters, combined with conservatives’ preference that leaders stand on principle rather than compromise, means Ryan could pay a price in the House Republican caucus for cutting deals.

“I don’t think that a President Clinton and her team should expect much in the way of a honeymoon next year if she were to win,” said Manley, the former Reid adviser. “Hope springs eternal, but I’m not convinced that, especially in the House, Republicans are going to tell the Freedom Caucus they’ve had enough with their tactics. Throw in trustworthy ratings (for Clinton) and it’s going to be very problematic.

“This debate hasn’t begun yet, but it’s going to be ugly,” he said.

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©2016 Bloomberg News

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  • Oh, she thinks Congress is worthless too, just like Obama. Of course, Clinton. I’m sure you know that Congress is a co-equal branch of government.

      • Almost all Presidents after Teddy Roosevelt issued more EOs than Mr. Obama. None of the imbeciles here know that or care to know that, of course. They remain willfully and pridefully ignorant.

        • sarge22 – You should finally try to develop the self discipline needed to not read my comments. Your opinions about them are worthless. I couldn’t care less what you think.

        • Klastri,
          People who call people imbeciles and ignorant are bigots. That’s you all day, everyday. You and Ikefromeli. Look it up.

        • Am I a bigot against those intellectually lazy–no, as bigot requires an extraction of energy.

        • Oh those pesky classified emails….”Using forensics, the FBI recovered from computer drives and other witnesses about 15,000 emails from Mrs. Clinton’s private account that dealt with government business, most that had not been turned over by her or her aides, the sources said.” Lock her up.

        • Klastri, this is not a numbers game as you seem to think. If you are a former lawyer as you have claimed, you should know that Congress and only Congress can make or change laws, and that the President’s role is to faithfully execute laws passed by Congress. There is nothing wrong with Presidents issuing Executive Orders to faithfully execute laws passed by Congress. All Presidents have done it. The problem with many of Obama’s EOs is that they make or change laws, which he does not have the authority to do and, therefore, which violate the Constitution. Even imbeciles should know that but they remain willfully and pridefully ignorant of the separation of powers embodied in the U.S. Constitution.

        • klastri the klown – I’d sure like to meet you in person just to slap your head. YOU are the imbecile and I’m sure many on this forum would love to see you get your head slapped! Just saying 🙂

        • Most people irrespective of who they support would like to slap klastri’s head. It would just make the sound of marble’s rolling around a sphere.

      • That’s very misleading. The number of executive actions is not the issue. It’s the content of each action. You’ve picked up on a Dem talking point used by the pundits. It’s hogwash.

  • Obama, no matter how he thinks he helped America, actually weakened our republic by running roughshod over the Constitution with his incessant use of executive orders. Now HilLIARy will continue this, except on steroids and like using “roids” too much, destroy our nation once and for all. If you like that, go vote for HilLIARy but it will be on your conscience.

    • It sounds like you have absolutely no idea how many executive orders were issued by the Presidents.

      Did you do five minutes of research before posting this comment? Nope!

      Ignorance is bliss!

      • It is not a game of numbers, it is substance. EOs cannot be used to change or make laws as some of Obama’s EOs have done. Ignorance certainly is bliss and clearly evident in your comments. Where did you get your law degree?

      • Once again, Wikipedia has a pretty good compendium of EOs issued by Presidents as well as a list of the more significant ones. There doesn’t appear to be much of a pattern in the second half of the 20th century as regards number per year in office or subject. They appeared to have been issued by every President to deal with immediate topics. For example, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon all issued orders addressing discriminatory practices of one kind or another.

        • Cellodad, the number of EOs issued by each president does not matter. What matters is whether EOs are used to facilitate the execution of laws passed by Congress as most presidents have done or whether they are used to make or change laws as many of Obama’s EOs have done, which, of course, is unconstitutional.

      • It’s not the number, it’s the content. Executive orders are not be used to totally circumvent congress and the senate. The country is in big trouble. Staying on the same course is not what the public wants.

  • What, did the AP run out of Trump hit pieces for the SA to latch onto? The one Hillary piece the SA publishes is designed to provide comfort to her base so they don’t get demoralized over her health issues. It checks all the boxes the totalitarian left desires. Curtailment of the 2nd amendment, legalizing illegals so they can eventually vote, placating the nut-case environmentalists with job killing climate legislation, mainstreaming LGBTWXYZ behavior, continued assault on religious freedom and freedom of speech and who knows what else. And with the impotent and compliant republican leadership that allowed Barry to walk all over them, if Hillary is elected she will have a cakewalk. One party government here we come.

  • “…work permits to 5 million undocumented immigrants, …”
    Not a bad thing. This will bring many out of the shadows to pay taxes and claim credits for their children born in the USA.
    Their employers who are paying them in cash under the table will also need to begin paying their taxes too.
    “…requiring background checks for purchases of firearms online or at gun shows, …” Why are we still talking about this? It should be mandatory. Period. No sane person should oppose background checks for firearms purchases.

  • Another typical totally leftist lapdog press puff piece of shirt article… Just look who its from.. bloomberg.. Their boss has come out big time for hillary.. News flash: the reason your little wishlist of leftist policies has not gone thru congress is because large swaths of the country do not agree with you.. This person writes as if whatever Hillary wants to do is 100% the way to go and any means justifies the end result.. She just wants power and only people making out under the demorat system (unions,etc) plus total fools will vote for this common criminal.

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