Obama looks to bypass Congress: 'I've got a pen'
January 14th, 2014
10:45 AM ET
3 months ago

Obama looks to bypass Congress: 'I've got a pen'

Washington (CNN) –  It's the new White House catch-phrase for 2014: "Year of Action."

Those words have been on President Barack Obama's mind over the last few weeks, earning a mention at December's year-end news conference and in his weekly address to the nation last Saturday. Administration officials are hinting it will be one of the major theme's of the President's upcoming State of the Union speech.

For the White House, that means avoiding the path that has often ended in inaction, namely Congress.

Tuesday, at his first cabinet meeting of the year, the President said he will work with lawmakers to pass legislation but he indicated he is prepared to use executive actions more frequently to advance administration goals.

"We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we are providing Americans the kind of help that they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone," Obama told his Cabinet

Over the coming weeks, Obama will be looking for ways to bypass Capitol Hill to further the administration's "action" agenda, which White House officials say will be aimed at reducing income inequality and sending a jolt into the nation's sometimes sluggish recovery.

On Wednesday, the President will travel to the campus of North Carolina State University to announce what the White House calls "a new public-private effort to boost advanced manufacturing," according to an email from senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer.

"The President will use every tool he can to create new jobs and opportunities for the middle class. He will be looking for areas of bipartisan cooperation, but he won't be waiting on Congress to act," Pfeiffer said.

The following day, the President and First Lady will host an event at the White House to discuss ways to not only make college more affordable but to make sure graduates enter the workforce with the right skills.  That event will demonstrate another new White House goal, to host more gatherings of like-minded policy advocates who share the President's domestic policy agenda.

Along those same lines, the White House last week unveiled its "Promise Zone" initiative, another administration endeavor seeking to bolster economic development in at-risk communities. The common denominator in all of those efforts: no Congressional approval required.

In his weekly address last weekend, the President framed Congress as only part of the equation for addressing the nation's needs. "I'll keep doing everything I can to create new jobs and new opportunities for American families – with Congress, on my own, and with everyone willing to play their part," Obama said.

Even after much of the administration's 2013 legislative agenda, from gun control to immigration reform, ran into roadblocks in a bitterly divided Congress, the White House has no interest in isolating itself from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Already there are emerging divisions among Democrats in the Senate over potential new sanctions legislation targeting Iran. Add to that new reforms aimed at limiting surveillance programs at the National Security Agency that will likely require congressional approval.

After his trip to North Carolina, the President will sit down with the Senate Democratic caucus Wednesday evening to discuss the party's "shared priorities for 2014," a White House official said.


Filed under: Congress • President Obama
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "We can start dismantling the community organizers fraudulent policies and work on getting our financial, political, personal and religious freedoms back that the constitution guarantees and that the community organizer only uses as talking points."

    You think you're going to get a veto-proof majority in both chambers of Congress? Hahahaha...suuuuure you are.....President Romney couldn't be more excited.

    January 14, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  2. tom l

    @Silence

    "I think even if Obama came out proposing tax cuts and repealing gun laws, conservative attack dogs would still foam at the mouth because the plan is "Obama bad, must say bad things about him".

    =====

    I enjoy our interactions as they are civil, we appear to actually listen to each other's comments and don't take things personally. I have to say that it's really time to grow a pair and give that line of thinking a rest. Please do remember that Pelosi and Reid did pretty much the exact same thing with Bush. They opposed everything he proposed. They called him a liar, a loser and many other things. Accept that there is opposition and it is a very healthy thing for the country. That is what the party out of power is supposed to do. Have repubs been more aggressive? Perhaps. But so has the president in his disdain for the other party. He says things like "repubs don't have any ideas for healthcare reform" and that is patently false. He has been just as abrupt if you're willing to look. That's all. Carry on...

    January 14, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. Warren

    marcindc

    Are you talking about the duly elected President of The United States???

    January 14, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "Please do remember that Pelosi and Reid did pretty much the exact same thing with Bush. "

    False equivalence is false.

    The numbers and historical record don't even remotely support that claim.

    January 14, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. Me

    sonny chapman

    Obama spent 5 YEARS trying to get Congress & D.C. to become functional. Now he's working on his Legacy.
    ____________
    Are you kidding, who was the last one to say I WILL NOT COMPROMISE???? And who SHOULD HAVE compromised casuse in the end the Repubs were right??? Ya, that is right Obama is the one who state he will NOT compromise!!!!! You are just a partisan hack, just like all you buddies on here!!! Obama has done ZERO to try and work WITH congress, congress was willing to back down from defund to delay after a while, Obummer, NOTHING, my way or the highway!!!! Get a clue and stop drinking the kool-aid!

    January 14, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. Fair is Fair

    "SEPARATION OF POWERS, not sharing of powers. Separate means you have yours and I have mine. While there's considerable overlap in some ways in terms of subject matter, etc., there is nothing that requires the POTUS to go through Congress in order to effectively, appropriately and legally/constitutionally exercise executive authority."
    --------
    Hope you sing the same tune next time there is a Republican president, Counselor... but I doubt it.

    January 14, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  7. Gunderson

    Aw, Humm,
    We have already had the New Deal, the Great Society, "Stumble Care" The Summer of Recovery and now what? Oh, the Year of Action. Well let's hope the Liberal's get one of them right. BUT, don't count your Chickens before they hatch! This ain't their first Rodeo. So far they have blown over 17 Trillion. Next.

    January 14, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. Warren

    Me

    Are you kidding, who was the last one to say I WILL NOT COMPROMISE????

    There you go, you forgot to include the whole thing I WILL NOT COMPROMISE ON THE ACA...

    January 14, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Enough is Enough

    @Carlos – excuse me but who was the last one to say they they absolutely would not compromise? I'll help you – it was the President.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Don't leave out the meat of your statement that being what it was that the President and Harry Reid said they would NOT compromise on.
    Dismantling the ACA? NO compromise.
    Taking away food stamps and programs for the poor? NO compromise.
    Compromise is a dirty word for Republicans dontchaknow. They are into hostage taking and domestic terrorism these days.

    January 14, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  10. Me

    jinx9to88

    Unfortunately the GOP does not want the economy to improve anytime soon cause they know as long as the economy is sluggish the American people will blame the party in office. Sad for the people looking for work.
    ________________
    Ya right that is why congress passed a bi-partisan spending bill even increasing wages for federal workers (which is long over due), yep they don't want the economy to improve.... You are just a partisan hack like the rest of the gang on here!!

    January 14, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. rla

    this president is an academic/ideologue and would not know a real job it it bit him. create jobs??? Sure take away from me and give to someone else to get votes! That is not job creation!

    January 14, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. tom l

    "Please do remember that Pelosi and Reid did pretty much the exact same thing with Bush. "

    False equivalence is false.

    The numbers and historical record don't even remotely support that claim.

    January 14, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. Me

    Sniffit

    "Please do remember that Pelosi and Reid did pretty much the exact same thing with Bush. "

    False equivalence is false.

    The numbers and historical record don't even remotely support that claim.
    _________________
    Yes they do sniffy you just pick and choose what to look at and cherry pick everything that supports your party and ignore the truth! Your statement is false plain and simple!

    January 14, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. tom l

    "Please do remember that Pelosi and Reid did pretty much the exact same thing with Bush. "

    False equivalence is false.

    The numbers and historical record don't even remotely support that claim.

    ====

    Really? I don't care about "numbers" or your silly "false equivalency" claim...again. I care about actions. I challenge you to give me a time when Bush said things about dems similar to what Obama has said about repubs. It has been a terrible relationship between congress and Obama. Terrible. It takes two to tango. Sure McConnell said what he did (which is exactly what every opposition leader is thinking, he just said it). But Obama could have been a bigger man and embraced it. What did he do? "Elections have consequences" "Reward your friends and punish your enemies" "They have no ideas" I could go on and on. Take some responsibility for once that he has not done anything to help that relationship. He has made it worse. Far worse.

    January 14, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. Me

    Warren

    Me

    Are you kidding, who was the last one to say I WILL NOT COMPROMISE????

    There you go, you forgot to include the whole thing I WILL NOT COMPROMISE ON THE ACA...
    _______________________
    Doesn't matter what he would not compromise on the fact is he would NOT and as we have seen the repubs were right, the ACA should have been DELAYED, not defunded but delayed as they asked for in the end! Bad legislation is bad legislation whether it is the ACA or the budget or any other BAD legislation! Look at the record for the ACA, pieces here and there have been delayed because Obama knows how bad of a law it is, if it was so good he would not have to cherry pick what parts should be implemented now and what ones should be delayed.

    January 14, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. tom l

    @DMFO
    "Dismantling the ACA? NO compromise"
    ======

    In the end, they didn't want to dismantle that so why would you make that false statement? They wanted to delay it. And he said NO compromise. And guess what he did then? He delayed part of it.

    January 14, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. rs

    Gunderson

    Aw, Humm,
    We have already had the New Deal, the Great Society, "Stumble Care" The Summer of Recovery and now what? Oh, the Year of Action. Well let's hope the Liberal's get one of them right. BUT, don't count your Chickens before they hatch! This ain't their first Rodeo. So far they have blown over 17 Trillion. Next.
    __________________
    Still playing the apologist for the rich Gundy? Keep at it maybe one of then will garnt you your wishes one day. Republicans have been slashing at the social safety net since Reagan's days, and the income disparity you see is the direct results of that continuing right up to today.

    January 14, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. OK

    So basically nothing new here to report. Our president just loves to go around Congress and make his own rules anyways...
    --

    You have to go back quite a ways to find a President that has used the executive order LESS than Obama has. I;m sure you had the same problem with GWB?

    January 14, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Me

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Enough is Enough

    @Carlos – excuse me but who was the last one to say they they absolutely would not compromise? I'll help you – it was the President.
    -----------------
    Compromise is a dirty word for Republicans dontchaknow.
    _________________________________
    You have that backwords and the record shows it, compromise is a dirty word for the dems!!

    January 14, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Christie fired the two senior aides who appear to be connected to the access lane closures, but he denied any knowledge of the apparent actions by some of his top aides, saying "I knew nothing about this," adding that he has "nothing to hide."
    ------------------
    You're projecting onto Pres. Obama exactly what the right wing tries to do. I mean, come on, man. If transvaginal probes do not violate the 4th Amendment, then please don't tell me what does. If pushing legislation that makes everyone conform to your theological perspective doesn't violate the 1st Amendment, then please don't tell me what does.

    January 14, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. Silence DoGood

    @marcindc "work on getting our financial, political, personal and religious freedoms back"
    Do a little research on the almost 300 executive orders Bush signed. These increased government, made some power plays, added a few steps towards establishing a State Religion (faith initiatives), sabotaged entitlement programs, pushed conservative agenda items. As a liberal I have no problem with Obama doing the same but in the left direction. Presidents since Washington (with 8) have exercised this executive privilege.

    January 14, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. CryBabies

    @ SDG....Eh?

    January 14, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. Warren

    tom l
    @DMFO
    "Dismantling the ACA? NO compromise"
    ======

    In the end, they didn't want to dismantle that so why would you make that false statement? They wanted to delay it. And he said NO compromise. And guess what he did then? He delayed part of it.

    47 votes to repeal Obamacare, 0 votes on an alternative to ...I see nothing of delay here???

    January 14, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. rs

    tom l

    "Please do remember that Pelosi and Reid did pretty much the exact same thing with Bush. "

    False equivalence is false.

    The numbers and historical record don't even remotely support that claim.

    ====

    Really? I don't care about "numbers" or your silly "false equivalency" claim...again. I care about actions. I challenge you to give me a time when Bush said things about dems similar to what Obama has said about repubs. It has been a terrible relationship between congress and Obama. Terrible. It takes two to tango. Sure McConnell said what he did (which is exactly what every opposition leader is thinking, he just said it). But Obama could have been a bigger man and embraced it. What did he do? "Elections have consequences" "Reward your friends and punish your enemies" "They have no ideas" I could go on and on. Take some responsibility for once that he has not done anything to help that relationship. He has made it worse. Far worse.
    _________________________________
    Tom, I'll side with the others here- Name one time in history where a President had to endure the idiocy of a party-sanctioned hate group like the Birthers, or the overt racism embodied in the TEA Party.
    BTW- calling G.W. Bush an idiot (if it happened) may have simply reflected an accurate assessment of the man's ability- really, it more resembles accuracy than disrespect.
    As far as "cooperating with Congress"- they are little better than treasonous curs- promoting the most aggressive anti-American nonsense in our nation's history. Why in the world should the President consort with those losers? Congress has a job to do, they are not children to be cajoled. Their actions speak to their values and motivation. The President has the right and duty to call them out on it.

    January 14, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. CryBabies

    @ Lisa P... Just calling it the way it is.

    January 14, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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