Executive Dictatorship: A Look At Some Of The Most Egregious EO’s

Maura Alwyen

HVAC/R Master Craftsman, Chef, Woodworker, Journeyman Metalworker, somewhat of a Blacksmith, & Author I do my own stunts & cinematography. Typos, poor word choices, wrong but similar sounding word choices are par for the course. All mistakes are artisanally crafted from the finest oopsies. Otherwise I'm just a regular girl with opinions and a point from which to shout into the void.

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15 Responses

  1. Philip H says:

    SO from inside the bureaucracy – most if not all federal statutes are too vague in their language to actually do anything with. Doubly so since Congress decided to create the farce that they don’t do earmarks anymore. Which means that in a lot of cases, Presidents of both parties actually do have to do a lot of interpreting in order to fulfill their duties to take care that the laws passed by Congress are faithfully implemented.

    That aside, as we’ve seen with the immigration debacle, Congress has become quite willing to NOT legislate on important issue presented to it. Which Means the Executive has to act, and the only real way to act is for the Executive to string together whatever legal authority does exist in an executive order. And this isn’t because Presidents are failing to propose legislation – its because Congress is choosing not to legislate.

    So yes, Congress could and should solve this problem – but you’re aiming at the wrong target with your solutions.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Philip H says:

      My favorites are the details of organizations. Congress writes, “There shall be an Office of XYZ within the Department of the Interior, with a budget of $40,000,000.” Someone has to decide that means a junior assistant bureau head, two assistant heads, and 15 staff. Do I want Congress to make that decision? Based on my time as a budget analyst for a state legislature, probably not. The Colorado legislature attempts to manage both dollars and headcount in the budget, and it’s an ongoing nightmare.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Congress attempts to manage our head count by authorizing and reauthorizing FTE billets. How we fill them is up to us, but they control the total. So when a new office like you describe is stood up, if there’s no additional billets it gets … interesting.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to Philip H says:

          What size groups do they attempt to manage over? My state’s legislature — at least when I was there, and I don’t know but certainly hope they’ve changed — tried to do it at a micro level. Eg, group X has an authorized FTE headcount of three, and a salary budget of $164,000 (pension, benefits, and things like floorspace were accounted for separately). There were so many things that went wrong with that.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    I like option 2, myself.

    I think that if an order is good, it ought to pass as a law.
    If it’s bad, it should automatically sunset.

    And it’d be a good way for a president to send clean bills to the House.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    I don’t think option 1 or option 2 are particularly likely to happen at any time. Extreme partisanship has reduced Congresses ability to do much, maybe anything. So for a President to enact any part of his or her agenda, he or she needs to use executive orders.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      American legislative bodies CAN and DO govern. Look at any of the states where one party has a trifecta and you see that the legislative body flexes its power easily.

      There isn’t any structural defect here.
      This Congress can’t legislate because doing so might give the President a win. Even something so simple as “wear a G-D mask and get the G-D shot” gets mired in partisan obstruction.

      About 40%of the American electorate is getting exactly what they want.Report

      • And yet the President just signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill 2 days ago that required bipartisan support.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to John Puccio says:

          It received 13 R votes in the House, mainly from Republicans who know they will be redistricted into more D friendly seats. On the other hand, we also have a system of government that raises the most cranky and eccentric members of Congress from backbencher to co-President when there are slim majorities.Report

      • Few — possibly no — state legislative bodies have adopted the kinds of rules or statutory restrictions that Congress has hamstrung itself with. California’s super-majority requirements on budgets was an aberration done by voters, and not self-imposed. Ditto for Colorado’s requirement that tax rate increases must be submitted to the voters.Report

  4. Many acts of Congress contain language explicitly assigning discretion on implementation to the President or another Cabinet officer (“The Secretary for Unicorn Farts shall issue regulations…”). This gives the legislators deniability, as well as opportunities for ‘constituent service’ (“Your Congressman Porcbarell goes to bat for YOU against those mean ol’ bureaucrats!”).Report

  5. Chris says:

    (fun fact! Mr. Truman had no middle name and picked the letter S because it sounded nice)

    [Linda Richman voice] This is neither fun nor a fact. Discuss.Report