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President Obama Could Do Something with the Stroke of a Pen

Washington Monthly

You know the drill — we have a dysfunctional political system and a gridlocked Congress. The House is firmly in the grip of a band of Republican maniacs and the Senate, though technically Democratic, requires a virtually impossible filibuster-proof majority to get anything passed.

So we should just throw up our hands and admit that nothing productive can be done in Washington until we get a Democratic Congress, right?

Wrong. One powerful tool presidents have at their disposal is the executive order. With the stroke of a pen, an executive order can make a given policy a fait accompli — no dealing with an obstreperous, hostile House or with demanding, egomaniacal senators required. Of course, executive orders only apply to a very limited set of policies. But in practical terms, they can do a world of good. [...]

As Vail reports, during this week’s 50th anniversary March on Washington festivities, participants strongly urged President Obama to sign the order. The measure is backed by labor unions, by activist groups like Demos and Good Jobs Nation, and by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. A recent New York Times editorial came out in favor of the measure.