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What can the president really do? | Politics

By on March 23, 2021 0

The presidential candidates make a lot of promises: repeal unpopular laws, overturn controversial Supreme Court rulings, cut taxes, eliminate debt. But what can a president actually accomplish?

There are strict limits on executive power. In fact, there is not much a president can do without the cooperation of Congress or the Supreme Court.

Here are some common questions and misconceptions about what is – and is not – in the president’s power.

Can the president repeal a constitutional amendment, such as the right to bear arms?

No. The president does not have the power to repeal any amendment to the Constitution.

To repeal a constitutional amendment, another constitutional amendment must be passed (such as when the 21st Amendment was passed to repeal the 18th, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol). It is not a quick or easy process.

An amendment can be proposed by Congress (with a two-thirds vote of each house) and ratified by three-quarters of state legislatures, or it can be proposed by two-thirds of state legislatures calling on Congress to hold a constitutional and approved convention. by ratifying the conventions in each state.

The president can be a cheerleader for the cause, but doesn’t get a vote.

Can the president repeal a law like Obamacare?

Photos: SCOTUS saves Obamacare

No. The power to do this rests with Congress, not the President.

Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, is a law, its overturn should be done by passing a new law. Like any other law, the legislation would have to be introduced by a senator or member of the House of Representatives and pass both houses of Congress before the president intervenes by signing or vetoing the bill. The president can clarify existing law by issuing executive action, but executive action cannot be used to create new laws.

Can the president start a war?

Yes and no. The president has the power to send troops into combat, but cannot officially declare war without permission from Congress. The War Powers Act of 1973 gives the president a strict 90-day deadline to seek Congressional approval – and money to pay for the war – or troops must return home.

Can the president launch a nuclear strike?

Yes and no. The president alone has the power to launch a nuclear strike, but except in certain situations – such as an impending nuclear attack on the United States – the president must first consult with senior military officials. Once the decision is made, the order is authenticated using the nuclear code and the launch continues.

Can the President overturn a Supreme Court ruling like Roe v. Wade or Citizens United?

No. There are only two ways to overrule a Supreme Court decision: with a new Supreme Court decision or by amending the law.

The court does not make laws, it interprets them and can decide whether a law is correctly applied. So with regards to Roe v. Wade, the foundational case that determined that abortions are legal, and Citizens United, which defined political spending as protected speech, the court was measuring whether existing laws or regulations were constitutional. To overturn either case, a new constitutional amendment would be necessary or the court would have to take up a new case involving the same issues.

Can the president decide which judges sit on the Supreme Court?

Yes and no. The president can appoint judges to fill vacancies in the court, in the hope that these new judges would tip the scales of decisions on issues such as abortion or campaign finance. But these judges must be confirmed by Congress in order to actually sit on the Supreme Court.

Can the president prevent a company from moving its factory abroad?

No – at least not directly.

The owner of a business has no obligation to operate in the United States, but the President (through regulation) and Congress (through the tax code) can try to put pressure on businesses so that they stay in the United States by hitting them where it hurts: their wallet.


Republicans and Democrats have proposed making changes to the tax code – which must be done through laws passed by Congress – to make it difficult for American businesses to try to move jobs to the abroad while continuing to operate in the United States.

The president can take executive action – especially those that deal with labor and environmental regulations – to make things easier and more profitable for companies to operate on American soil.

Can the President reduce your taxes?

No. The president can suggest changes to the tax code, but for those changes to be made, Congress would have to propose the passage of new laws.

Can the President lower the prices of gasoline?

No. Gas prices are set in an international market, and as US oil production increases, the vast majority of global supply comes from elsewhere.

Congress, again, can have some influence – by setting the fuel tax. The current federal tax on gasoline, which has not increased since 1993, is 18.4 cents (and 24.4 cents for diesel).

Can the President order the Fed to raise or lower interest rates?

No. The Federal Reserve and its board of governors alone makes the decision to raise or lower the federal interest rate.

The Fed is politically independent, which means members of its board of governors are appointed for a 14-year term, so their appointments are not tied to a single electoral cycle. Fed funding is not allocated by Congress, but by various interests. And it’s fiercely protective of this independence, taking care to avoid any trace of vulnerability to short-term political pressures.

Can the President cancel student loan debt?

No. When a student enters the civil service or education, the government already allows him to apply federal loans released. But proposals to postpone repayments or refinance loans can only be implemented if Congress creates new laws to that effect.

Can the President get rid of Common Core?

No. Common core is not a federal law, but a set of standards developed by states. While the Federal Education Act, rewritten in 2015, includes incentives and guidelines for states to implement college and career-ready standards, these are just recommendations to states.

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