Michael On Everything Else

The Executive Branch Is Too Powerful

Update January 29, 2021: The same day I posted the article below, the New York Times published this: Ease Up on the Executive Actions, Joe.

I was hoping that Congress would realize it with the previous administration but they didn’t, oddly enough. The focus was instead on the man, not the office so the real problem was not addressed. The last four years would be very different had we not had such a powerful executive branch and this goes especially for executive orders, which have become the go-to tool for presidents looking to be ‘effective.’

I just read a good article about the power of the executive branch here.

From steering trade and environmental policy to waging war, the executive branch has gradually expanded its powers far beyond what the founders intended. As the country has grown more polarized and gridlocked, a cultural fixation with the White House has developed, and America’s once-modest executive has come to be viewed as a hybrid savior-celebrity on whom the fate of the nation rests.

I wrote a bit about administrative law in this post as well. What we are already seeing is a whip-saw of executive orders with each president. For example the Title IX back-and-forth that will likely extend across three administrations.

America was established explicitly to reduce the power wielded by a single individual—they were up against royalty but what we call it doesn’t matter. It’s still too much power focused on too few people.

“The founders of our republic did not want to put that much [power] in the hands of a single leader,” says Mark Rozell, a professor at George Mason University and an expert on presidential power. “America’s addiction to executive power has become dangerous for this country.”

“President Biden has a unique opportunity,” he adds, “to put forward a process that will establish the presidency as a more modest power in our system of separated powers.”

I’m not particularly encouraged this will happen. In fact it’s naive to think so. Biden was VP when the Democrats had a full year of a supermajority and it wasn’t tackled then and it is not a major talking point now—we don’t hear any Democrat saying we need to make the president less powerful.

My hope was that the Trump presidency would encourage Congress to grow a spine and reclaim their legislative authority and reduce the power of the presidency, but neither happened.

P.S. I found the original article on AllSides.com, a new favorite news aggregator for me. It not only works to present news from the political Left, Right, and Center, but also will analyze the reporting of those sites for a given subject, like meta-journalism: journalism about journalism. This article was from a news site labeled as ‘Center’ by AllSides.

P.P.S You can follow Biden’s executive orders at the Federal Register and also see EOs for previous presidents as well.