“A Loaded Weapon”: The Growth of Executive Power

Capitol Hill Briefing
May 18, 2016 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EDT

2203 Rayburn House Office Building

Opening remarks by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman, House Committee on Financial Services; featuring Gene Healy, Vice President, Cato Institute; moderated by Peter Russo, Director of Congressional Affairs, Cato Institute.

In discussions with his advisers, President Obama has been heard to worry about “leaving a loaded weapon lying around” for future presidents, Newsweek reported just before the 2012 election, in an article titled “Obama’s Executive Power Grab.” Yet in his second term, boasting that “I’ve got a pen and a phone,” he’s increasingly governed by unilateral directive, in areas ranging from education policy, immigration, and environmental regulation at home to military action abroad — ensuring that his successor will inherit a presidency with dangerously expansive powers.

Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has said she’ll go “as far as I can, even beyond President Obama” unilaterally on immigration and use executive action to stop corporations from headquartering abroad to avoid taxes. “I won’t refuse them,” Republican frontrunner Donald Trump says of executive orders, “I will do a lot of right things.”

Is the expansion of unilateral executive power the “right thing” for our system of government or a “loaded weapon” that threatens the constitutional separation of powers? Join us for a lively presentation as we explore the recent relationship between the executive and congressional branches.