Beware an Unchecked President

tags: presidency, Congress



Jacob S. Hacker is a professor of political science and director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale. Oona A. Hathaway is a professor of law and director of the Center for Global Legal Challenges at Yale Law School.

In the face of congressional gridlock, President Obama has started taking more and more matters into his own hands. In recent months, he has announced new gun control measures, put in place limited immigration reform and made fixes to the Affordable Care Act — all without Congress. Many liberals who once worried about presidential overreach have applauded his robust use of presidential power.

Yet the president's increasing unilateralism shouldn't be cause for celebration. Bypassing Congress means bypassing democratic checks. It also means giving up on government's ability to effectively address serious long-term challenges. The solution to a dysfunctional Congress isn't an unchecked executive; it's a Congress that actually works.

A first step in that direction was taken recently with the banning of filibusters for executive branch nominees and federal judges below the Supreme Court....



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