In the build up to Tuesday night's State of the Union address, Obama administration officials had increasingly referenced the president's intention to utilize a "pen and phone" strategy to pursue his liberal agenda, relying on executive orders in place of the often difficult process of negotiating with congress.
Mr. Obama, obviously frustrated by his administration's inability to fully accomplish its legislative objectives, had sought to cast Republicans as the sole impediment standing between his policies and a flourishing economy.
What he had failed to acknowledge, however, was his own inability to build support for his legislative priorities among either members of congress or the American people.
In his State of the Union address, Mr. Obama made little mention of the need for working across the aisle to engage his ideological adversaries.
Instead, Obama asserted that, when he deemed necessary, he would bypass the legislative process and instead utilize the seemingly ever expanding power of the executive pen.
Obama said, “America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do."
The president's movement toward enhancing the power of the executive at the expense of congress has angered many. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) lamented, "The Obama administration has been so brazen in its attempts to expand federal power that the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the Justice Department's efforts to expand federal power nine times since January 2012.”
Mr. Obama's pivot away from the constitutional prerogatives of congress in favor of a more unilateral approach to managing government is not the first such effort on the part of a chief executive to wrest control from a separate but co-equal branch of government.
Next week marks the 77th anniversary of the announcement of Franklin Roosevelt's proposed Judiciary Reorganization Bill. Frustrated by the Supreme Court having invalidated multiple elements of his signature New Deal, FDR sought to pass legislation through the heavily Democrat-controlled congress that would allow him to fundamentally alter the makeup of the Supreme Court and pack the Court with judges more sympathetic to his New Deal endeavors.
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