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Module 4 Notes - The Executive Branch

by: Savannah Tucker

Module 4 Notes - The Executive Branch PS 101

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Savannah Tucker

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Includes Vocabulary and article notes
American Government
Stephen Voss
Class Notes
political science, Voss, American Government
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Savannah Tucker on Sunday February 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PS 101 at University of Kentucky taught by Stephen Voss in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 16 views. For similar materials see American Government in Political Science at University of Kentucky.

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Date Created: 02/28/16
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 The Executive Branch Module 4 4.1 The President in the U.S Constitution The powers of the President are found in Article II. It defines the presidency in less than 1000 words. It is fairly vague, which has allowed the powers of the office to change over time. 4.1.1 Article II Section 2 1. The President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. • This means the President is responsible for protecting the nation from external threats. He usually faces less resistance from Congress than he does when dealing with domestic affairs, as this is a shared goal. • Two Presidents: One for domestic affairs, one for foreign policy (a President may handle each differently). • These powers spillover when the U.S. is threatened, a rally-around-the-flag effect may occur, spiking a President’s popularity (Ex. (9/11) 2. The President has the pardon power, allowing him to grant pardons and reprieves for those convicted on federal crimes, except in the case of impeachment. • He may also grant commutation, lessing the punishment without forgiving the offense. • This is controversial because it could potentially invite corruption into the office • Ex. Bill Clinton Administration, pardoning of those connected to his wife who also funded his campaign. 3. The President has the power to make Treaties (agreements between nations binding by law). • Treaties must be approved by the Senate with a 2/3 majority • Usually amounts to no more than the ability to negotiate with foreign leaders. • Not often approved. 4. Presidents may negotiate an executive agreement. 1 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 • Agreement with a foreign leader that last only while a that president remains in office. • ex. Obama Administration negotiated with Iran to prevent the development of nuclear arms. 4. The President has appointment power (authority to appoint Supreme Court Judges, government ministers, and ambassadors) • Requires the “Advise and Consent of the Senate”, the Senate must approve the appointee. • The confirmation process may not be easy with the opposing party controls the Senate. The President will often choose less controversial nominees for this reason. Until late in Obama’s presidency, many considered candidates were filibustered by • the minority, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led a Senate rules change that removed the right to unlimited debate from the confirmation process. Allowed Democratic leaders to approve Obama’s nominees until they lost control of the Senate in 2014. • Presidents may fill a post temporarily when the Senate is unavailable to give advise and consent, this was controversial because the recess-appointment power can be used to appoint nominees and make changes until the next meeting of the Senate. 4.1.3 The Veto Power & the President as Indirect Legislator There is often tension between the President and Congress due to divided government, and sometimes even unified government. The President is often seen as a passive or negative power when it comes to legislating because of his veto power. A veto may be overridden with a 2/3 vote in Congress. Many Presidents will not pass a bill because they dislike it more than the status quo, and may send it back to Congress until he sees one that he likes, promising to veto the bill if passed as is. 4.1.4 Executive Unilateral Action Recent presidents have tried to overcome limits on their power using Executive Unilateral Action. In addition to executive agreements and recess appointments these include: 2 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Executive Orders - when a president gives instructions to members of the executive branch indicating how they should operate and which policies to follow. Signing Statements - the addition of a written pronouncement upon a signing a bill. The use of these Unilateral Executive Action challenges the checks and balances needed to maintain separation of powers. Obama is currently being sued for overstepping his powers by both the House and the Senate. 4.2 Presidential Roles The powers outlined by the Constitution have been added to over the years. The President now serves as: Commander in Chief Policy Initiator Head of the Executive Branch Bureaucrat in Chief Symbolic Figurehead of the Nation 4.2.1 The President as Symbolic Personality The President is a celebrity. He is watched very closely. He is put under a microscope. 4.2.2 The President as Bureaucrat in Chief In decreasing closeness to the President, the components of Executive Branch are as follows: 1. WHO (White House Office) - assistants and advisors to the President 2. EOP (Executive Office of the President) - President’s high-ranking police advisers 3. Federal bureaucracy, agencies and departments headed by the secretaries of the President’s cabinet. 4. Independent agencies and commissions established by Congress over which the President exerts only limited or indirect control. 5. Shadow Bureaucracy - a name for all of the workers with (a) state & local governments or (b) private enterprises such as companies and non-profit 3 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 businesses who would not appear under the President according to any official organizational chart but who carry out policies initiated or funded by the national government. 4.3 The Bureaucracy A negative view on government employees is rooted in the early leaders of America wanting a smaller government, leading the citizens to expect little from their government. Americans are more likely to look to bring about change in others ways such as charity. When laws were made to expand government, they came with strings attached (red tape) put in place to ensure governments responsiveness. American voters typically oppose expanding the power and size of the the federal bureaucracy. They also expect change from a government they wish to limit. They form new agencies they hope will make change, yet they do not want to fund the agencies they create (homeland security after 9/11). Some policy might be privatized under contract of the state through grants in aid or block grants. Regulation of money supply causes problems when during hard times, leader demand more money to be printed. Money used to follow the gold standard, voters wanted to tie currency to silver, and sometimes politicians pushed fro paper currency that would be legal tender. The gold standard has now been replaced with fiat currency based on the credibility of the U.S. Governments and the strength of the U.S. economy, making it much easier to print dollars. Flooding the market with currency can be dangerous to the economy making people less likely to provide credit. Many believe that the central bank should be made independent of politics. The Federal Reserve Board is insulated from political pressure by having governors serve for 14 year terms and funded outside of the congressional appropriations process. The Fed is an independent agency within the U.S. Government. Unelected leaders can be influenced by political demands. The President’s Cabinet Civil Service 4 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Police-Patrol Oversight Independent Agencies. Vocabulary Commander in Chief - The term used to describe the President as Commander of the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Relevance - This term is important because in Article II Section 2 of the United States Constitution, the President is given the power to command the Armed Forces in order to protect the nation from external threat, as well as deal with foreign policy. Rally-around-the-flag effect - a time when the popularity of a president may spike due to a potential threat to the United States, overall public support for the president. Relevance - This occurred most recently after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, causing President George Bush’s approval ratings to skyrocket to levels not seen since the end of WWII. Pardon Power - The power of the President to pardon those convicted of federal crimes, except in the case of impeachment. Relevance - Though this power can be used properly, it also invites corruption into the office. We can see this during the Clinton Administration when Bill Clinton pardoned those involved with his wife and her family, who has also funded his campaign. Commutation - The power of the President to lessen the punishment without forgiving the offense. Relevance - President Obama is more in favor of commuting then pardoning. Treaties - Agreements between nations that become legating binding. Relevance - Treaties suggested by the President must be approved by a 2/3 majority in the Senate before they go into effect. They are not often approved. This is a check on the executive branch by the legislative branch. Executive Agreement - Commitments made with foreign countries that may last only when the President is in office. Relevance - This is a way of getting around needed approval of the Senate. The Obama Administration negotiated regarding nuclear weapons with Iran, this angered 5 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Republican Senators who wrote a letter to Iran explaining that the Presidents power was limited. Appointment Power - The power of the President to appoint Supreme Court Judges, government ministers, and ambassadors with the advise and consent of the Senate. Relevance - The President’s appointees must be approved by a 2/3 majority in the Senate, this is a check on the Executive Branch by the Legislative Branch. It can be very difficult to get an approval from the Senate if it is controlled by the opposing party, so less controversial appointees are usually chosen. Confirmation Process - The process of appointing a presidential nominee to office. Relevance - The Senate must approve all Presidentially appointed offices, called “Advise and Consent”. This process can be very difficult when the Senate is ruled by the opposing party. Nearly all of Obama’s nominees were blocked by a filibuster until Majority Leader Harry Reid changed Senate rules to not allow an unlimited debate with it comes to the confirmation process. Obama’s nominees were often approved until the Democrats lost control of the Senate in 2014. Recess Appointment Power - The power of the President to appoint a person to fill a post temporarily while the Senate is unavailable to give advise and consent. Relevance - The Obama Administration used this to skirt the confirmation process, allowing them to slip controversial nominees into office long enough to get things done. This provoked a lawsuit, Obama lost. Divided Government - When the President is of a difference political party than leads at least one chamber of Congress. Relevance - This makes it hard to actually pass anything because the President and Congress hold different beliefs, it causes conflict over policy. Unified Government - When both political branches are controlled by the same party. Relevance - Produces conflict when the opposing party is stopping policies from leaving congress, or because of differences within the dominant party. Veto Power - The Power of the President to send legislation back to Congress with a notice saying that he has rejected it. Relevance - This is a check on the Legislative Branch by the Executive Branch, a veto can be overridden. 6 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Veto Override - An action taken in Congress to override a President’s veto, accomplished with 2/3 approval from Congress, very uncommon. Relevance - This is a check on the Executive branch by the Legislative branch, extremely uncommon. Status Quo - The current law or policy Relevance - A President usually only uses a veto when he dislikes the bill more than the status quo. Retrospective Voting - A performance based, backward looking method of judging the parties where voters look back over the past few years and vote with a party depending on how the last few years have gone. Unilateral Action - policy making on the Presdient’s own without the explicit support of the Congress Relevance - These actions threaten the Checks and Balances that maintain separation of powers. The Obama is currently being sues by both the House and the Senate for overstepping his powers. This allows the President to bypass the approval of the Congress. Executive Orders - instructions given to members of the executive branch indicating how they should operate and which policies they can follow. Relevance - It's a process for changing policy that skirts the law-making authority possessed by Congress. The President may not give orders contrary to the law, but the law leaves a lot of room for interpretation so even an executive order that strays pretty far from the intent of the law may not be overturned through lawsuit, and if the President issues an executive order that fits with the law but not with congressional preferences, the sluggishness of the legislative process means that they'll have a hard time undoing the order. Signing Statements - Upon signing a bill into law, the President may attach his own written pronouncement. Relevance - Sometimes these statements are just rhetorical, but sometimes they include additional instructions for how the law will be implemented and enforced within the executive branch. For example, they may isolate parts of the law as unconstitutional and instruct the executive branch to ignore them, or they might give more-precise definitions to vague terms within the law, effectively setting policy. 7 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Red Tape - strings attached to laws, named after the tape used to bind archived records. Relevance - Laws that were passes to expand the size of government bureaucracy or give more power to the federal government were said to come with strings attached called red tape. They favored responsiveness over efficiency. Privatized - policy that is implemented by private companies under contract to the state. Relevance - Congress may appropriate funds to promote policy goals, or it might simply grant tax breaks to promote those goals, while leaving the actual implementation of the policy to others, one way tot do this is to privatize it. Gold Standard - When the quantity off dollars was connected to the amount of gold held in reserve by federal banks. Relevance - Voters on occasion demanded that the United States create currency ties to silver instead when gold was running low. Legal Tender - payment that must be accepted by force of law. Relevance - Politicians pushed for paper currency (Legal Tender) the same was currency tied to silver was pushed instead of following the gold standard. Federal Reserve Board - the governing body of the Federal Reserve (central banking system created for the U.S. in 1913). Relevance - The federal Reserve Board is insulated from political pressure by having governors serve a 14-year terms and funded outside of the congressional appropriations process. It is an independent agency within the U.S. Independent Agency - agencies within the U.S government. Relevance - represent a decision in that policy area to favor efficiency and good policy making formulated by experts rather than swift responsiveness to voter demands. Cabinet - appointed officials that advise the President. Relevance - the Cabinet members are among the highest ranking members of the federal bureaucracy. Civil Service - Lower level bureaucrats, not appointed, but hired. Created by the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 8 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Relevance - Since Civil Service employees do not lose their jobs when a new President is elected, they are supposed to be hired on merit. Police-Patrol Oversight - when congress checks out what agencies are doing like a cop walking the beat. Relevance - Government is too vast for Congress to engage in this. Fire-Alarm Oversight - a reactive way of jumping onto action after hearing complaints from constituents. Relevance - This gives government bureaucrats lots of flexibility under normal circumstances, but it also means they do not want a scandal that would bring congress to investigate. Congressional Oversight - Committee hearing exposing problems in one’s office, can bring unwanted publicity with al sorts of negative repercussions. 9


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