In a Representative Democracy such as the United States, most people are familiar with what a law is, many people know how a bill differs from a law, but most probably do not understand what an Executive Order is.  Surely a week does not pass that it is not reported someplace that the President of the United States either signed an Executive Order to put into place a new policy or to rescind a previous one.  The situation can be confusing because the President of the United States is generally not understood to be someone who makes law.

The President of the United States is the head of the Executive Branch and he or she has some explicit powers and some gray ones.  The president can, for example, lead the country in making decisions regarding foreign affairs, nominate individuals for the Supreme Court, or in the role as “commander-in-chief ” lead the military.  But the president’s authority is not absolute as any treaty he or she negotiates with a foreign power must still be approved by Congress, nominees to the Supreme Court must be confirmed by the Senate, and any troop deployments over 60 days must be authorized by Congress due to the War Powers Resolution.  So, while the power of the president seems great it is, like virtually every other area of the U.S. government, subject to checks and balances.  One area in which the president can have a great deal of power is in the area of the Executive Order.

Click to continue reading “Executive Orders and the Law”

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With all of the excitement that surrounded the first “Bailout bill” and now the furor over the new Stimulus bill I looked through our archives and saw that no one had yet discussed what a bill is and how it becomes a law. The point of this post is purely educational. There are no opinions here regarding the current stimulus package or Geithner’s announcement yesterday that he needs $TWO TRILLION MORE. I’m sorry, was I shouting? In keeping with the main premise of Inside Government – to help educate and inform the public – the following is a detailed look at bills. But, first – a blast from the past for those of you who might remember School House Rock:

Pretty cool, huh? Well, that is a very simplified presentation of how bills become law, but, it is on target and most of you probably remember seeing it. Now we move on to greater detail…

Click to continue reading “Just What is a Bill and How Does it Become a Law?”

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Politico 44 reported today that President Barack Obama wasted no time diving in on Day One on what has been the most persistent and thorny issue for all his predecessors: Mideast diplomacy. Obama phoned four of the region’s most American-friendly leaders: President Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Olmert of Israel, King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

Obama had avoided any extended discussion about Gaza during the transition, frequently reminding reporters that there is “only one president at a time.” But even before a full day has gone by since his swearing in, Obama is sending a message that he intends to take a more active role than Bush in the region.

“He used this opportunity on his first day in office to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term, and to express his hope for their continued cooperation and leadership,” said Robert Gibbs in a statement. “In the aftermath of the Gaza conflict, he emphasized his determination to work to help consolidate the ceasefire by establishing an effective anti-smuggling regime to prevent Hamas from rearming, and facilitating in partnership with the Palestinian Authority a major reconstruction effort for Palestinians in Gaza. He pledged that the United States would do its part to make these efforts successful, working closely with the international community and these partners as they fulfill their responsibilities as well. The President appreciated the spirit of partnership and warm nature of these calls.”

Click to continue reading “Inside Gaza: The Lynchpin of Lasting Peace in the Middle East”

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Our Elected Leaders at the 2008 State of the Union Address

Our Elected Leaders at the 2008 State of the Union Address

From my little window on the world I see a new President-elect, Barack Obama waiting to be sworn in in the USA in January 2009.

What do people expect from Obama and his team who are being assembled as we read?

The answer is probably: too much. Some members of the population have been anticipating the result of the election with baited breath hoping this change will make a radical difference in their lives. The reality is that at the end of 4 years not much will change unless the people stand up and demand that the government recognises and defers to those who put them in power: the people.

Unfortunately, far too much time, money and energy has been invested to divert and misinform the public about the role of government and what it is there for.

Click to continue reading “Politicians We Deserve”

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If you’ve been following the beginnings of the transition of leadership from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, you’ve probably heard about a lot of things that President-Elect Obama wants to change from our current leadership to his.  That shouldn’t be a big surprise as that was pretty much his campaign platform.

As you may or may not know, however, is that for real substantive change to occur, it takes a lot of time for legislation to change economic policy, social agendas and domestic and international policy as it has to go through the House and Senate first before it even gets to the President’s desk for his signature.  And if you’re familiar with the old Saturday morning cartoon song, the Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” you might just recall how long that takes.

But what most may not realize, is that there is a way around Congress that a President can use to exercise his authority.  And that’s through the use of Executive Orders.  Executive Orders are typically used to “impose policy and set priorities”, so says Breitbart.com in an article on the transition process between Presidents.

To get the full flavor of how Executive Orders work and how they’ve been used (and manipulated) we need to look at their past.

Click to continue reading “What Is an Executive Order?”

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