The Executive Notes

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  • Created by: Ali Bland
  • Created on: 28-02-15 15:11
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The Presidency
The creation of the presidency
Founding fathers wanted to create head of state and head of government
o `I am both king and prime minister' - Roosevelt
They created a singular executive- opening words of Article II of the constitution: `the
executive power shall be vested in the president'
Created an indirectly elected president chosen by electors in the Electoral College
(although been adapted into a direct election)
Created a limited and checked president- they feared tyranny by executive branch so
created checks and balances.
List of US presidents
Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974)
Gerald R. Ford (1974-1977)
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
George H. W. Bush (1989-1993)
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
George W. Bush (2001-2009)
Barack Hussein Obama (2009-Present)
Laid out in Article II of the Constitution.
Propose legislation- gives president power to propose legislation to congress which he
may do through annual state of union address. But he can propose legislation at any
Obama used his state of union address in 2010 as his flagship
healthcare reform legislation.
Submit annual budget- the OBM draws up the annual federal budget for the president
(OMB is part of president's own bureaucracy, known as EXOP).
Sign legislation- once bills have been passed through congress, the president signs the
bills he wishes to put into law at the bill-signing ceremonies.
Veto legislation- this is a much used presidential weapon and an important bargaining
tool. Altogether presidents have used just under 1,500 vetoes. Congress may override
them but this is rarely successful.

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George W Bush had a 63.6% success rate with vetoes whereas
Kennedy had 100% success.
Pocket vetoes can be used at the end of a congressional session and cannot be
overridden by congress.
George H Bush used 15 whereas Clinton only used one.
Chief executive- opening lines of Article II of constitution grant the president with
executive power. Modern presidents have needed their own bureaucracy (EXOP) to
help them coordinate the work of the federal government.…read more

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President looks for a balanced ticket- in terms of age, ideology, gender, race, experience
and geographic region.
o Eg. Obama (African American, young, 4 years in senate) appointing Biden (white,
old, 36 years in senate)
The passing of the 25th
Amendment in 1967 means there are circumstances under which
the VP may be appointed rather than elected. If VP becomes vacant, presidents can
appoint new VP who must be confirmed by a simple majority in congress.…read more

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Modern day VPs have taken on new roles such as in legislative liaison with congress
o Dick cheney played role for George W Bush.
Spokesperson for the administration- been the case with the three recent VPs.
o Dick Cheney spoke out on many foreign policy issues.
In an era of outsider presidents- Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush, the VP has played
insider role, guiding president around potential pitfalls in Washington politics.…read more

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Independent regulatory commissions (IRCs) - they are independent of all branches
and operate behind barriers created by congress to shield them from presidential
o Government corporations - perform principally commercial functions that might
have been carried out by the private sector. Eg. the US postal service (1970) and
the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Functions of the federal bureaucracy
Executing laws - Article II Section 2 states the president shall `take care that the laws be
faithfully executed'.…read more

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Problems of the federal bureaucracy
Agencies tend to serve the interests of those they are supposed to be overseeing. So the
watchdog agencies often turn out to be `lapdogs'.
Agencies seek to expand their powers and responsibilities at the expense of other
agencies- `bureaucratic imperialism'. Political interests become dominant sometimes
regardless of public interest.
Agencies tend to be narrow-minded on their goals rather than looking at the `big picture'.
Most agencies act slowly and cautiously with a tendency to resist change.…read more

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The role of Congress
Congress has the legislative power to establish merge or abolish departments and
agencies . It has reorganised the federal bureaucracy on occasions eg. Education and
Welfare joined in 1953 and separated in 1979
o Huge reorganisation in 2002 where congress extracted 170,000 current federal
government employees from 22 different agencies including Justice, Treasury,
Health, Defence and Commerce- and merged them to form the new department
of Homeland Security.…read more

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Eg. in Jan 2012, Obama announced Karen Mills, the administrator of the Small
Business Administration, to cabinet status. By doing this he was signalling the
importance he placed on small businesses in promoting economic recovery in
It is not in the constitution- the founding fathers created a singular executive- no councils
or cabinets.…read more

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Clinton in 1992 talked about a cabinet that ` looked like America' . There are 5 key
principles presidents use to try balance their cabinet.
Region - In Obama's initial cabinet there was Hilda Solis (CA), Janet Napolitano (AZ), Ken
Salazar (CO), Arne Duncan (IL) and Shaun Donovan (NY).
Race - Lyndon Johnson was the first to appoint an African-American to his cabinet, Robert
Weaver as secretary for housing and urban development. So expectations have been set-
Nixon was criticised for having an all-white cabinet.…read more

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Bush imagined cabinet meetings being held every few months and so had from 4 to 9
meetings and year, little fluctuation.
o Obama had even fewer- just 16 in his first term, av. Of 4 a year. He tended to
schedule meetings just before or after notable political events such as state of
union address or mid-term elections and talk to cabinet on big-ticket items.…read more


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