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Monday, August 5, 2019

It Is NOT The President's Fault

     What is not his fault? Nothing. Why do we even have a president? And how do presidents get things done? 
     The men who framed the Constitution wanted to ensure that the executive branch was powerful enough to act and so in Article II they established certain powers for the president. These are known as formal powers.
     Over the years presidents have claimed other powers, known as informal powers. Formal powers are...and notice how many require Senate approval: 

* Nominate certain government officials (with Senate confirmation
* Request written opinions from administrative officials 
* Fill administrative vacancies during congressional recesses 
* Act as Commander in Chief of the armed forces 
* Make treaties (with Senate ratification
* Nominate ambassadors (with Senate confirmation
* Receive ambassadors 
* Confer diplomatic recognition on other governments 
* Grant reprieves and pardons for federal offenses 
* Nominate federal judges (with Senate confirmation
* Recommend legislation to Congress 
* Present information on the State of the Union to Congress 
* Convene Congress on extraordinary occasions 
* Adjourn Congress if House and Senate cannot agree 
* Veto legislation (Congress may overrule a veto

Informal powers: 

* Set priorities for Congress and attempt to get majorities to put through the president’s legislative agenda 
* Issue executive orders - regulations to run the government and direct the bureaucracy in cases where the laws passed by congress allow it or do not specify how the law is to be carried out. 
* Negotiating executive agreements with heads of foreign governments that are not ratified by the Senate 

     The simple fact is that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 gave little attention to the executive branch of government. In contrast to the protracted debates over the powers of Congress, the powers of the president were defined fairly quickly and without much discussion. The framers obviously assumed that the legislative branch would be much more powerful.
     Over the country's history the Executive Branch has usurped more and more power thanks to some presidents who have been strong leaders with forceful personalities and the realization that Congress is ill-suited to make timely responses to national security threats. Only the Congress can declare war, but the president is Commander-in-Chief so in practice it’s tricky. But even then, Congress could cut all funding to the military. 
     One thing is certain, the founders intended Congress to have more powers than the president and the Supreme Court and the whole system is loaded with checks and balances. 
     The simple fact is, Congress is more powerful than the president, or should be. And, if they are not, it is the fault of Congress itself. As can be seen from the list of a president's powers, if the Congress were unified and voted together, they can pass any law they please. That's something the president cannot do because he can’t pass any laws himself and couldn’t stop a law Congress was determined to pass. 
     Just about every everything in government exists because Congress said so. Forget the Supreme Court...Congress could make the Supreme Court three justices, or thirty if they wanted to. They could get rid of the FBI, NSA, and CIA, or double their size. The president can't do any of that, nor would he be able to stop Congress. 
     Congress can even remove the president from office, but not the other way around. The president can't kick people out of Congress. 
     The problem with Congress is that they are rarely unified because they are divided along party lines and have little concern about what's best for the country as a whole. This is, of course, oversimplified but the overriding truth is Congress is much more powerful than any president whose power is limited by the Constitution. 
     If Congress ever got their act together, whatever the president did or did not do wouldn't amount to two dead flies. At most any president is in office for eight years while many have been in Congress for decades. If our representatives whine about this or that being in such a mess, they are the fools, flunkies and lickspittles responsible because they establish the laws and agencies that run the country, not the president, whomever that might be.

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