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How powerful is the US President?

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A PowerPoint examining the various restrictions and freedoms on the President's power.

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How powerful is the US President?

  1. 1. Under the US Constitution, a president must be; • A natural-born US citizen • At least 35 years old • A US resident for at least 14 years What is Congress and why is it there? Read Article 2 of the US Constitution. Identify the qualifications/requirements for an individual to become President. Constitutional Analysis
  2. 2. Enquiry Question: How powerful is the US president?
  3. 3. Learning Objectives • To identify and explain the powers of the President • To examine contemporary examples of the use of the presidential powers • To complete a short-answer exam question: How extensive are the constitutional powers of the president?
  4. 4. Pause For Thought • List of Presidents (including party and dates) • List of Vice Presidents (including part and dates) • Brief profiles of the Modern Presidents (Truman-Clinton) • In-depth profiles of GWB and BHO (1st and 2nd terms) Useful Items
  5. 5. “My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.” - President Harry Truman
  6. 6. An American Monarch? • Ensuring that the people of the USA would never suffer oppression at the hands of a powerful, unrestrained leader was the central aim of the Founding Fathers when they produced the Constitution. • Yet in modern times, the president of the USA has been routinely described as the most powerful person in the world. • This would suggest that the primary objective of the US constitutional system has not been met. However, prominent American political scientist Richard Neustadt (who specialises in the US presidency and has been adviser to several presidents) has argued that presidents are so constrained by the system of checks and balances that they have only ‘the power to persuade’.
  7. 7. “The essence of a President’s persuasive task, with congressmen and everybody else, is to induce them to believe that what he wants of them is what their own appraisal of their own responsibilities requires them to do in their interest, not this.” - Richard Neustadt (1990) Pause For Thought Professor Richard Neustadt American political scientist specializing in the United States presidency. He also served as advisor to several presidents.
  8. 8. Formal Powers Informal Resources • Veto • Executive orders • Nominations • Recommendations • Commander-in-Chief • Head of State and Head of Government • Staff in the executive branch • Party ties • Mass media • International contracts • The ‘bully pulpit’ What is Congress and why is it there? Read Article 2 of the Constitution. What roles and powers are bestowed on President? Constitutional Analysis
  9. 9. Executive Arrangements in 15 democracies Nation Head of Government Head of State Brazil President President Canada Prime Minister Governor-General France Prime Minister and President President Germany Chancellor President India Prime Minister President Ireland Prime Minister President Israel Prime Minister President Italy Prime Minister President Japan Prime Minister Monarch Portugal Prime Minister and President President Russia President President Spain Prime Minister Monarch Sweden Prime Minister Monarch UK Prime Minister Monarch USA President President
  10. 10. Roles of the President These roles are not always clearly stated in the Constitution …so how have they evolved?
  11. 11. Head of State The Constitution confers specific powers on the president; • He is commander-in-chief of the armed services (but he cannot declare war) • He negotiates and signs treaties with other countries (although they need to be ratified by the Senate) • He is in charge of diplomatic relations with other countries • He has the power to issue pardons to anyone convicted of a crime These duties are carried out in most countries by the Head of State, so the president carries this title, although this is not specified in the Constitution. Head of Government The Constitution also confers the following two powers on the president; • He is responsible for appointing people to head government departments, subject to confirmation by the Senate. • He can call Congress back into session during a break (recess) at times of national emergency. These duties are carried out in most countries by the head of the government, so the president carries this title, although again this is no specified in the Constitution. Roles of the President
  12. 12. • In addition, as specified in a clause in the Constitution, the president shall ‘from time to time give to Congress information on the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient’. • As the State of the Union Address is delivered annually at the end of January, the president takes a leading role in shaping national policy for the year. • The president also has the power to veto bills that have been passed by Congress (found in Article 1, Section 7). • Otherwise, the Constitution gives the president the broad responsibility of ensuring that the laws of the USA are ‘faithfully executed’. Roles of the President
  13. 13. Roles of the President How are these roles carried out? How much power do they really confer on the president? From these constitutional origins, the following presidential roles have developed;
  14. 14. The Hunt for Examples 1. Be commander in chief of the Army and Navy when called into service. 2. Require the opinion of the principal officer in each executive department. 3. Have power to grand reprieves and pardons. 4. Make treaties. 5. Nominate and appoint ambassadors, judges of the Supreme Court and all other officers of the United States. 6. Fill up all vacancies during the recess of the Senate. 7. Give to Congress information of the state of the union. 8. Recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. 9. On extraordinary occasions convene both Houses, or either of them. 10. Receive ambassadors and other public ministers. 11. Take care that the laws be faithfully executed. 12. Commission all the officers of the United States.
  15. 15. Power of the President Example Be commander in chief of the Army and Navy when called into service. 4.07 every year, reviews troops and plans strategies, reviews conduct of military operations which he has last word over (e.g. NATO airstrikes against Libya 19.03.11) Require the opinion of the principal officer in each executive department. October 2011 – cabinet meeting on how to accelerate growth of jobs Have power to grant reprieves and pardons. 21.11.11 – pardoned Thomas Paul Ledford of conducting illegal download business 21.11.11 – pardoned Ricky Dale Collett of aiding and abetting of manufacture of 61 marijuana plants Make treaties. New Start signed 2010, came into effect 2011. Nominate and appoint ambassadors, judges of the Supreme Court and all other officers of the United States. 29.09.10 – appointed James M Come to Deputy Attorney General Matthew Bryza to US ambassador to Azerbaijan, Elena Kagan to US Supreme Court Fill up all vacancies during the recess of the Senate. 4.1.12 – 4 recess appointments e.g. Richard Cordray as Director of Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Give to Congress information of the state of the union. 25.01.11 – State of the Union Address, economy, education, ending Iraq war major policies Recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. 5.01.2012 – Congress barred money from NIH being used for purpose of gun control – Obama stated this would not prevent him from making recommendations on gun control to Congress On extraordinary occasions convene both Houses, or either of them. 20.03.05 – Special Extension of Congress to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, a woman in a persistent vegetative state whose family and husband were at odds over whether to disconnect her feeding tube – passed Schiavo Bill Receive ambassadors and other public ministers. The Queen – hosted farewell dinner for Queen to end her state visit 26.03.11 Take care that the laws be faithfully executed. 10.01.2012 – signed National Defense Authorisation Act, gives him authority to indefinitely detain and if not kill, American citizens Commission all the officers of the United States. Military personnel swear to uphold the constitution of the US (including Articles referring to presidential control over military)
  16. 16. What can the president do?
  17. 17. “If the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” - Richard Nixon
  18. 18. Executive Orders Presidential Memoranda Presidential Proclamations National Security Directives Impoundment Signing statements Pause For Thought Executive Power Executive power is also exercised through a range of mechanisms at the disposal of the President.
  19. 19. Executive Power Example Executive Orders 13492 (Guantanamo Bay) Presidential Memoranda War Powers 15.12.11 Presidential Proclamations Wright Brothers Day 15.12.11 National Security Directives NSPD-9: Combating Terrorism 25.10.01 Impoundment The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 was passed as Congress felt that President Nixon was abusing his authority to impound the funding of programs he opposed. The Act effectively removed the impoundment power of the president and required him to obtain Congressional approval if he wants to rescind specific government spending. President Nixon signed the Act with little protest because the administration was then embroiled in the Watergate scandal and unwilling to provoke Congress. Signing statements Obama Statement on Signing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009
  20. 20. Pause For Thought Executive Orders • A directive issued to officers of the executive branch, requiring them to take or stop taking an action, alter policy, change management practices, or accept a delegation of authority. • Informal in history • Process today • Published in Federal Register, numbered • Legal Authority
  21. 21. Pause For Thought Presidential Memoranda • Pronounceme nt directed to executive branch officials • No publication in Federal Register • Below the radar of MCs and media
  22. 22. Pause For Thought Presidential Proclamations • States a condition, declares law and requires obedience, or recognizes an event. (Also pardons) • Binding on the public. • Published in the Federal Register
  23. 23. Pause For Thought National Security Directives • Formal declaration to an agency or department head of a presidential national security decision, requiring follow-up. • Designed at the National Security Council • Not published. • Mostly classified. • Problems with small group dynamics, Congress’ exclusion
  24. 24. Pause For Thought Impoundment • The president refuses to spend funds appropriated by Congress • Congress has restricted this practice (1974, 1987) • He can only defer spending if: • A “special contingency” • To achieve savings through more efficient operations • He can only propose to permanently rescind funds, but Congress must approve within 45 days
  25. 25. Pause For Thought Signing Statements • Traditionally innocuous • Since 1980s, provide the president’s interpretation of a law, announce Constitutional limits on implementatio n of it, or indicate directions about how to administer it. • Since 1986, part of official legislative history • Used as de facto line item veto since Reagan
  26. 26. Why use executive powers? • Quick in an emergency situation • Pay debts to important groups without committing many resources • Don’t attract much attention • Signing statements prevent vetoes of complex/end of session legislation Why not to use executive powers? • Contribute to accumulation of power in executive hands • Make it more difficult for successors to govern • Undermine existing administrative law procedures • Easy for next administration to undo • Closed policymaking process = bad policy? Pause For Thought Executive Powers
  27. 27. How extensive are the constitutional powers of the president? 15 marks = 15 minutes 5 4 3 2 1 0 5 Minutes Start Timer 10 8 6 4 2 0 10 Minutes Start Timer
  28. 28. Homework Reading and Note Taking Chapter 6, The Vice President, p229-239 Consolidating your understanding: Example Bank Obama 2nd term examples for roles of the president Obama 2nd term examples for executive powers Extra Credit Becoming President [VLE]

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