« Freakonomics Radio

260. Has the U.S. Presidency Become a Dictatorship?

2016-09-22 | 🔗

Sure, we all pay lip service to the Madisonian system of checks and balances. But as one legal scholar argues, presidents have been running roughshod over the system for decades. The result? An accumulation of power that's turned the presidency into a position the founders wouldn't have recognized.

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So, basically, all my ranting on this topic in the past, arguing that the president matters much less than people think you're, saying that I'm pretty much entirely wrong No pertly wrong man entirely wrong. It depends what you mean. I think, if we You're, saying is: don't worry, you know its congress and the ports that decide things in the president doesn't really decide how much and I would say you are wrong, but if we you are saying is Donald Trump will not be able to refuse to enforce the corporate tax. I think you're right, you may have heard that there is a presidential election going on in the past. We have argued on this programme that the President of the United States is much less powerful than people generally think. Today, the legal scholar Eric Posner tells us. Why were wrong, but
when it comes to presidential powers, were not the only ones who IRAN? Yes, where the Democrats are wrong. To have this happen, how did president's grabbing more and more power will, with the benefit of hindsight, the whole constitutional system seems pretty nutty but come on. Is it really such a huge deal? yeah. It's a huge deal and interesting leads one. The people often don't we, We understand today on for economics, radio help us understand. Professor Posner read after that here sing it with me. Resident style, the antenna w and Y see studios. This is for economic radio, the broadcast that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host Stephen Gardner
what were the running fathers really aiming for when they set down in seventeen eighty seven to write the american constitution. Down to one thing, which is: we want a powerful government that will protect us in Ohio Commerce to flourish but we don't want to government that become so powerful that it would abuse its power and in, If here with our liberties, its Eric Posner and when the professor at the University of Chicago or school, do you care much about politics on a personal level, don't really care that much I mean like everybody. I have instinctive political reactions, but I tried maintain distance and try to be objective about and often when I, when I think about politics today, I try to think about
how someone a hundred years from now might think about politics, story and looking back and when we look back a hundred years or two hundred years, we often find it very difficult to understand why people seem to get upset about little things in the end didn't matter much, and I think it's important to take that view when thinking about politics today right. Do you vote, for instance, and curious? I vote settled that one of Poseners books, CO, authored with Adrian for Mule, is called the executive Unbound after the macedonian republic, James Madison, the fourth president, and so called Father of the constitution, was passionate about the division of the federal government into
He branches, the legislative and judicial and the president's branch? The executive, the Mediterranean checks and balances view is that we don't want a single person or a small group of people to have all the power How would you say that the role of the president and the power of the presidency of the United States has turned out compared to how the founders intended the role? Oh, it's the founders. Not possibly have imagined that the president would become as powerful as he has. I mean our presidency is completely transformed I no longer a father one remaining and promote to make the private sector or a short term An american lady got one on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
I decide what is best, so I want to speak with you today about a new essay that you ve written that was published in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Journal database, your ass. It was called presidential leadership in the separation of powers, so you argue that the press and who are generally judged as great Abraham, Lincoln Woodrow, Wilson, Franklin, Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. You name are generally quote the President's who most frequently tread on constitutional norms, and you ask: how can our top presidential leaders also be major lawbreakers okay. So how can I the wall. Actually, you know prevents president's from doing great things. I mean that that that, in a nutshell, the problem, the LA constitutional on particular, but also the laws passed by Congress is set down. You know for a long time ago, and people are imagining that the President do you know one thing, but not necessarily other things
and then you know, there's a huge convulsion times change. There's a war is a depression. These old laws are in place and a very sort of modest president might obey them and not solve the problems but the great president's are the ones who basically pushed aside so that they can do something great something great in their eyes, at least, but also something unilateral. Indeed, if you didn't know any better, you think that most president's, and especially the two main candidates running for the position this year can make just about anything happen just by willing it. So I will build a great great ball southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that war. My word: a silver well poor preparations Wall Street they're going to have to invest in education and skills, training in infrastructure.
Computer start making their computers year and Congress continues to refuse to act as president, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further I alone can fix it. Eric Posner is not an alarmist, but he definitely thinks the. U S: government strayed very far from the founders intent. The founders knew a great deal about classical history, no much more than any politician today does and the girl The lesson of roman history was that, for Quite a long time, the Roman Republic had, limited government. It was not and by kings or you know emperors, and it was also highly successful. I mean by the standards of the time it was wealthy, the conquered lots of places it was,
Fantastic kind of role model for the founders were very ambitious for the United States, but didn't want a king, but then the Roman Republic collapsed and was replaced by an emperor, so the founders, looking back at roman history, said you know we like to be powerful, like the roman reply, work? And you know we'd like to imitate the constitutional structure of the Roman Republic too? stand, that it was able to maintain both liberty, while creating this powerful country we want to avoid. The air is that they made, which paved the way for an emperor. You write that this system was supposed to quote, allowed decisive action by the executive while blocking it or any other part of government from acquiring excessive power, but it has never been clear how this system could work you further. Eight that checks amounts is simply make it difficult for the national government to act, whether for good or bad. So, if I understand you correctly,
the constitution, which we love. I guess and talk about an awful lot and is held up as a model around the world, gives a very kind of loose and murky blueprint for the role of the president and then again, if I understand you correctly, President's went on to define the role in their image much more concretely, then the constitution did so tell me if I'm reading you right and second of all, talk about the ways in which president's overtime did shape. The macedonian sis to suit their needs very well. With the benefit of hindsight, the whole constitutional system seems pretty naughty. Thin, and we actually know this, because some other countries imitated, which was a big mistakes, especially in Latin America, a bunch of countries imitated Ursus, and what happened was that three brand?
the government in those countries just became gridlocked? Nothing could be accomplished and events the president would just effectively declare himself the only rule then he would rule by diktat and these countries were very unstable. Now it's not really clear whether we should blame separation of powers. Are these countries at other problems, but most political scientist. I believe, think that parliamentary systems are a lot more sensible. It's a system that gives the government a great deal of power, but maybe not too much. Ok, so the? U S wasn't set up as a parliamentary system, but it was set up to prevent the president from accruing to much
So what happened in our country? Something special happened, which was that for a long time, Congress was basically the leading government authority. The courts were pretty passive. The president, with some important exceptions, basically did were Congress, wanted it to do, and this was able the work fur, maybe up until the civil war or so because in a basically the country was vast, people were anxious to make money. And move westward and so forth, but in the twentieth century things got way too complicated and I think what was very fortunate was that Congress The court's eventually realised that the only way to get this system to work was to allow the present and to have a kind of primary role to be the first among equals, which they did by creating what we call an administrative state. We
basically means a very big bureaucracy, headed by the president, which makes most of the important rules so in your view, a lot of president's ran roughshod are your words over the macedonian system in countless ways. So let's have some quick examples. Please, let's start briefly in the beginning, with Wash ten Washington's a little hard to say, because people sort of expected that he would set some precedents the constitution. There is very little about the role of the president. It says that the executive power is vested in the president, but it doesn't expect what executive power means and then it as a few sort of trivial things like he has the power to receive ambassadors and a few more significant things like commander in chief of the army, so it's possible that the founders of some of the facts, This thought of the president is basically
kind of a limited office who just does whatever Congress tells them to do- is also possible that many of them thought of the president is something like a king except a king who and to survive elections, and in it we really in I don't know my guess is there is a lot of the agreement and people than really know what the presidency was gonna work like they did expect George Washington to be the first president in and they trusted him and- and I think partly because of that they were able to agree to a constitution that was not very specific about what the president's powers would be. Ok about Thomas Jefferson, Louisiana purchase by Jefferson was highly regarded as unconstitutional, even by Jefferson himself, but it was just too irresistible. It just seemed like such a great ill that he went ahead and did it anyway and then hoped Congress would later ratify Abraham Lincoln.
Well, you know he suspended habeas corpus, even though the constitution pretty clearly says only Congress can suspend habeas corpus of the practical effect of that. Was that the president could arrest people or have the military arrest people and they will not be able to go to court, so that was pretty dramatic. But he did other things as well. He impounded funds, in other words, used money. The Congress had appropriated in ways that he wasn't supposed to go out of the country just ruled by martial law, meaning that the military made the rules. Congress did not make the rules, but we know You can say about Lincoln is that a civil war was going on, so he could make the reasonable, and I think that in the middle the civil war. A lot of these costs, national rules can be suspended or weakened, and what is true,
is that after the civil war in the following decades in a nobody, would try to act like Lincoln skipping ahead, quite a bit Theodore Roosevelt. So before him it was generally understood. The Congress would make policy debate policy, pass the wars and so forth. Roosevelt took the view that the president should lead using the Bali pop does he called to appeal to the public, which of course, we used to this now. But that was new and he did it, and so the president began to be the primary figure for determining domestic policy as well. It wasn't that he would pass laws by himself, but he would set the agenda and behaviour. A much more important figure than he had been in the past tat for a moment Woodrow Wilson Woodrow Wilson was a professed, Rennie had these professor ideas, one of which is that parliamentary systems are better than presidential systems and in haste
the thought of himself in that way and what that meant was that he has the president would be the primary person for determining domestic as well as for policies that he was building on Roosevelt and he also how initiate the modern administrative state. He was one of the first presidency really put away. As force behind the idea. There out of the rules should be made and enforced by bureaucracies and Washington, which would be headed by the president and take a deep breath for the next one Franklin Roosevelt. Well, we could be here all day. He did so much. One He did, of course, was stay in office for more than two terms that was not unconstitutional but it violated a long standing precedent which have been set by Washington of all people and a lot of people did accused him of being dictator. Not just for that, but because, of course,
in the new deal Hague vastly expanded the power of the federal bureaucracy and he got Congress to pass laws which were when lawyers called delegations of power base Lee rather than passing a law that says you know you have to do this or that ordinary people, though I say to the president, you figure out what people should do. So to use an anachronistic example, but an easy one to understand when Environmental law was eventually enacted in the nineteen seventies Congress. Didn't I say you know here are the pollutants, and this is what you should do about them. Congress said to the executive branch: do something about air, ocean, and do something about water pollution and the Supreme Court in it. He struck down these laws but eventually acquiesced in them, and then it was up to the bureaucracy.
In the executive branch, ultimately the EPA to figure out what the rules were and then the final thing, of course is is world, where two and, of course, in overall intents and purposes during the war, Roosevelt was a dictator who who basically decided how things would go both in terms of how the war was prosecuted and in terms of domestic policy, but again in extreme times we, give more leeway. Yes, we do, but what striking hair is dead in both settings things? You know we're permanently changed so once they administrative stay was put in place and strengthened under Roosevelt. It just remain there and ever since, become more and more powerful there? is a very brief and weak effort to roll back in their meant, late fortys, and then you know from time to time. People Ronald Reagan say you know we should
regulate that basically, this system of administrative governance is fully and edged and then on the foreign policy side. The president, basically, is the commander chief in as leader of foreign policy. His decisions just had much more importance than they had before world war. Two and that would never change that would become permanent, so the accumulation of power by U S presence, has not only been substantial but cumulative coming up on economics. Radio is the presidency really turning into Sweden would say this, allowed into a dictatorship. Yes, I think that is happening. Other in a dictatorship is such a afraid term and how President Obama's expansion of powers can be exploited by future presidents, who may have very different political goals,
so he can say what I think it's in the national interest not to allow Muslims into the country and he's acting consistently with the statue. Also, please listen for for economics, radio, on public radio stations across the? U S, and if you don't already subscribe to this part guest, please do via the Itunes podcast up or whatever you used to find your past Eric Posner, not a law. Professor at university Chicago has been telling us the power of the U S. Presidency has expanded, especially since the growth of what's called the administrative state, the executive branch and I went from basically a post office at the founding too
It has, I think three million people are so I mean it's just extraordinarily huge. Our constitution says that Congress should be the centre of lawmaking, but Congress has seated or perhaps Del It did much of that authority to the president and the many agencies under his or potentially her control Congress. Is a small body with relatively small staff and its a multi headed body consisting of people
I agree with each other about all kinds of things. It simply cannot exert no consistent, powerful influence over the agencies in the executive branch it just camp and then there's the expansion of power in the foreign and military arenas during the cold war president's were given broad powers that included unilateral authority over the CIA, which was behind coups in countries like IRAN, Guatemala, the Congo, Dominican Republic, South Vietnam and Chile President's have also led the. U S into many wars, everyone since world war, two in fact, without having an official declaration of war from Congress. Although Congress did formerly authorize some of them, the president has always had quite extensive work powers even before world, where two presidents would in a send troops off to do things without can
National Authority, other they're, usually relatively minor sorts of things, but but afterward were to this power expanded. There was they never backlash in the nineteen seventy splitting the backlash was, you know, to a large extent, a backlash against Nixon people have got to know whether or not their president, but I'm not a crop. And, to some extent, a backlash against the Vietnam WAR in nineteen. Seventy three Congress past the war powers act over President Nixon's veto. We should say it stipulates, among other things, that the president should consult with Congress over matters of war and peace, and it requires congressional authorization for conflict that last more than sixty days- and I don't think the workers are really had much of an effect. The presidency in the seventies was weak because of the backlash against Nixon but by the time we have re again, you know Reagan sent troops.
Broad Grenada in Lebanon, without congressional authorization, George W Bush, Do it in Panama and Somalia Clinton We do it in Serbia in Somalia and Afghans. I mean there are all these examples of presidents using military force without Congress, authorization and then most recently, Obama in Libya. Every president, since the war Powers ACT has said that it is an unconstitutional abridgment of their prerogatives as commander in chief for now, it's an unsettled constitutional question, but functionally Posner says when it comes to war, making Congress generally bow to the might of the president and were basically back to where we were before the work.
Hours ACT, was passed so its clear then on many dimensions, the president isn't merely as constrain as the founders plan. Does that mean, however, that the president is all power so I've been arguing for a few years, the little or no effect. I should say that the President of the United States essentially matters, much less than is commonly thought that he or she is greatly constrained by Congress by the constitution, etc. And yet many Americans think that the president has vast powers over everything from the economy to geopolitics of countries. If we around the world so tell me in a nutshell: how do you characterize the breadth and depth of presidential power
I think the president is enormously powerful and and certainly the most powerful person in the United States and and really in the world by a large amount, but I also don't disagree with you. What people usually say about the president is that his power is constrained by the constitution. In particular this idea of separation of powers where the government is divided into the executive branch led by the President Congress and the courts and the old idea, which I think we are working in junior high school, is that the separation of powers is worth constraints the president, but I think most people, political scientist, science and me as well, think that that system does really operate the way people imagine it does. In fact, these constraints are much more limited. So what does constrain the president? What really constraints him is the difficulty of leader
and in particular this institutional environment that has evolved, which has made him the leader of three different groups, and so he's understood to be the leader of the country he's also the leader of the the party and its leader of the executive branch and Trying to be the leader of these different groups with different interests and values turns out to be an extremely difficult task, an extremely difficult task, and you would argue, a more significant, constraining factor on the power of the president, then the constant in itself. Yes, yes, the major constraints on the president in the Constitution or Congress in the courts and Congress has to a large extent acquiesced. Two presidential powers has given the president more and more power, and the courts also tend to be highly deferential at least four important issues, but if the present wants to accomplish something he does
aid, his subordinates in the executive branch to carry out his orders, and he does need popular support within the country as a whole. And he also needs cooperation from his party because in the past he is a very important institution through which the president also maintains its support and accomplishes the things that he wants to get done. Give me an example of an issue that of president might care about a lot and as leader of the country, he or she has lets a clear path, but as leader of the party of his or her political party, there is obstruction. I think, went on him. Oh Bay, as a pretty good example. Actually, in multiple way, Sir George Bush at some point decided he wanted to basically shut down went on Mugabe and his party, definitely opposed to that and then, but did I don't think Bush was cared that much but Obama You know there is a great deal and I think both democratic protein
Republican Party have gotten in his way? I'm not Thirdly sure what the country as a whole thinks about Guantanamo. I think people have pretty mixed feelings about that, but that's a good example of of of conflict we were closed. One time will present will be closed. In order to present a close by early next year? Since the mid term elections of two thousand ten President Obama has faced Republican, controlled Congress. It is countered many of his policy goals. This wed Obama to repeatedly employ executive orders to get what he's, after sidestepping the pesky process of getting Congress to pass laws. Saturday night live, took note of his constant manoeuvring in a parody of the old schoolhouse, rocked bit about how a bill becomes law
as our buildings. I'm alive, used it ass. Well, first, I go the board on me when they are badly that majority legislative, then, Madam President, Obama was the big idea that bill was trying to become a law. I realise that which no son, who was actually even easier way, we do things around here Call him executive order, exaggerated pretty much deals happens, to be fair, Obama is not removed. We anomalous in his use of executive orders, George W Bush, for example, issued to
Ninety one executive orders Bill Clinton. Three hundred and sixty four Obama with a few months ago has signed hundred forty nine. So by sheer number that isn't remarkable, but Eric Posner argues. Obama has used his power differently with the most distant given interesting innovation by President Obama has to use a power that people don't talk about much sometimes called prosecutor aerial discretion, sometimes called enforcement power. So the idea in the original constitution was that Congress passes the. On the president, enforces them but it turns out. You know, and people understood it at the time, but what does it mean for the president to enforce the was? Maybe he doesn't then? What happens and there's a clause in the constitution called take care clause which says we ve gotta enforced the was, but there is also the executive power clause, which seems to say way of discretion, and this whole idea of the exact
if, as being an independent branch, suggests that the present has discretion the discretion, for instance, to provide legal status to nearly five million immigrants who illegally entered the? U S, that's what Obama tried to do? in two thousand fourteen, and so our immigration law says that if you come into our country without papers, you're here legally and you're. Gonna, get checked out and pray Obama has made it clear in a way these earlier president's. Haven't that as a matter of policy, he doesn't think he should kick out certain classes of people. Children who came when there are very young and a few other classes of people, and he's dealing in some ways is continuous, with our understanding of presidential power he's using discretion to enforce the law and presidents are allowed to do that. But I think it also troubles alot of people because he's doing it on such a huge scale
and in an area where we would normally expect Congress to act by issuing an amnesty or providing a path to citizenship. And so I do think this the major advance in presidential power Obama's immigration move was blocked by Texas Court. The decision was later upheld by the Us Supreme Court on the day of the Supreme Court's ruling, the Texas Attorney General issued a statement. That said, today's decision keeps in place what we have maintained from the very start: one person, even a president, cannot unilaterally change the law. This is a major setback. President Obama's attempts to expand executive power in a victory, for those who believe in the separation of powers and the rule of law. That said, Obama
hasn't been shy about using executive orders when he couldn't accomplishes goals through the legislative bridge. So President Obama came to office making a number of promises of reform in a number of different areas. I'd like to go through them, with you one by one and like you to tell me how far he got if at all and when that happened according to what we think of his normal constitutional channels or other channel so number one. Let's call it that will combine these economic stimulus and financial regulation talk about his promise in the outcome and the methodology he obtained laws from Congress, both for stimulus and for financial Regulation so in that sense he used normal congressional procedures. On the other hand, the response to the financial crisis, which in of course started with Bush. The continued while Obama was in office involved,
in a tremendous use of administrative powers, many of which were of questionable legality, and so, at least with respect to the response to the financial crisis. I think some of it was outside of the traditional constitutional sense talk about prison Obama's policy initiative on you. Personal health care, so here in one sense he followed constitutional norm, see obtained a statute that we call Obama there are the affordable care act, but once the statute was in place and Congress turned hostile had to aggressively use administrative powers to implement it, and so famously he hasn't Several instances delayed The administrative roll out of the statute for both practical and political reasons in ways that many people think or constitutionally questionable
Although you know people argue back and forth about them. Carbon emission regulation, President Obama tried to obtain a statute and failed, and so then he used administrative powers under existing statutes like the Clean AIR Act to issue regulations. So This is a good illustration of how our system works. You. Congress to pass a statute. Having failed to do so, he was though able to accomplish much of what he wanted to do through regulation, his preferred reforms to counter terrorism. Interestingly, George Bush was much more successful than Obama here, George Bush. It wanted to do some aggressive things and basically persuaded Congress, of course, mostly hello. Can Congress to pass statutes like the Patriot ACT that allowed him to do that. Of course he broke some rules as well. Obama
hasn't been successful in obtaining the statutes that he's wanted, but, on the other hand, he's been able to use the powers that Congress gave to Bush Andy's also pushed on the envelope a little bit using drone strikes to kill people, including american City, thence is you know, you might argue constitutionally questionable. You write that when it comes to the affordable, correct and Frank that not only did Congress acquiesce in the president's legislative agenda vastly expanded his authority and the authority of his successors to regulate that is to make policy decisions in the financial and health sectors of the economy. So, considering professor oppose that
health and financial sectors of our economy, our gigantic. That sounds like a huge deal. The present Obama expanded his authority and that of his successors to make policy decisions there. What do you make of that in? What would James Madison me yeah it's a huge deal. Interesting leave its one. The people often don't really understand. The present break any laws, he know he he he wasn't like Nixon, he went to Congress and he got a statute, which is what the president is supposed to do under. You know Madison's vision, but what the statutes do is they give the present enormous discretionary? thirty. So that means that going into the future when we try The figure out you know, what's good financial pausing, what's good health policy, what we should do is talk to the present and persuade him to pass the regulations that we think are important. Rather than going to come
press. Now you know Madison Window recognise this. He just didn't think it. He just didn't imagine that this is what would happen and partly in those days, these sorts of things would have been dealt with by state governments nothin. No government, but basically the these were not creating a system of administrative government. They knew about Ministry of government. A lot of countries had big bureaucracies with a king at the top in places like France, the these sorts of system did not appeal to them and they and they tried to create a different type of system, but that system gone and we haven't administrative state today. So I'm trying to square two conflicting narratives here: one is the Obama and democratic narrative that a republic. Dominated Congress, stymied everything that present Obama? The Democrats wanted to do with your narrative that President Vomica almost everything he wanted by it
spending or kind of maximizing presidential power. So can you put those two narrative together for me? Yes, where the grants are wrong. I'm Obama has accomplished a huge amount, both by obtaining statutes and through his administrative powers. What is true is he has an accomplished as much as he'd have liked to have ambushed inasmuch as you know, many Democrats would have liked him to have accomplished it could have been a health law that was much more ambitious with a public option there could have been a you know, Dodd Frank could have been stronger. The president has been disappointed that he hasn't been to close Guantanamo Bay and and there he certainly was stymied by Congress. But you ve gotta be realistic about what can be accomplished. And if the public doesn't want something, in our new president wants to remain influential and popular. He just can't do as much as is party might want him to do now. You sound a little bit like a Democrat when you describe
how much he accomplished. I don't know if you are aren't or if you care to say whether you are I vote both ways. You, or were you friends and colleagues with prisoner by one whose at universities Gaga LAW school. I knew him. I actually knew him and was school when I went when we were in law, school and I knew him yeah. I knew him a bet he he lived in Hyde Park as I do and I occasionally saw around the last guy one com, a friend though I mean, probably shared but he's not really a friend on that wealth. But in terms of the big policies that we ve been talking about, You generally find yourself on the side of, as an Obama seeking out the kind of let's say financial reforms and healthcare reform year. Where, I think Dodd Frank, was a good idea, although A lot of the details, you no one, could quarrel with. I thank you. Basically was right that we needed health care reform.
I don't know whether the affordable care act was a good statute or not, but mainly be as this is just an area of policy, about what I know very little, so I don't have strong views about this, I think, historians and the future will look back at Obama said he ate at a pretty good job in oh, he he accomplished many of the things They wanted to accomplish in difficult circumstances. I don't think you'll, be rigour, it. As you know, a fantastic president wake you know, Winkler Jefferson or any of those people, and I guess for my part, I mean I'm kind of ambivalent. I don't know, I think it's very hard to evaluate President's until long after they ve left office in the archives have opened up, a new can really see what sort of choices they faced, but considering your argument that all the president's who are categorized as great by political scientists in historians,
Make a lot of end runs around the constitution. Then, by that logic, present Obama will be close to great, no well, that's a necessary, but not sufficient condition. I think grades The president could be a dictator destroys the country. I think if you comparison unlike Obama, to Carter Carter's ever going to be considered a great president, maybe because he was too scrupulous about the war and about the constitution. I In the case of Obama, it's possible he'll be considered a great president and partly because he was very aggressive, while professors have already written thousands of articles talking about how many was he's broken, and they will continue to do so. But in the end I don't that's how people are going to evaluate him as a president, at least according to his public statements, which I and no reason think are not how he really feel
President Obama's is not enthusiastic about the Donald Trump presidents at all. How would you characterize the calculus of president in office, creating new leverage for the presidency so that he or she can take advantage of that leverage. While potentially handing off said leverage to a successor with very different views. I think this is a real problem. Did Obama has thought about? He has said, and you know if you read the various members and so forth. He said to his subordinates and his lawyers that he doesn't want to expand presidential power because he's worried a future presidents, relying on these precedence to do bad things but he's done it anywhere. You know,
and he's done it because he felt that the immediate objectives were were sufficiently important, the nature of how precedents influence future behaviour. It is very complicated. People made the mark. That, because he refused to enforce the immigration were tromp becomes. President Trump could refuse to enforce corporate taxes, for example. But I just don't believe that I think, if tromp refused to enforce corporate taxes, there'd been enormous political backlash. I just think their different settings, but it is a risk that Obama has taken. Given what Donald Trump has said about his plans overall for the presidency, including immigration ban on Muslims, etc, etc, etc. How would you see a president Trump being able to carry out his various plans if you were elected and even if the Democrats were to control Congress here?
probably ban Muslims from coming into this country, at least in the short term. The immigration statute already gives the president enormous power to block any one from entering the country. If the president thinks it's in the national interest, so he can say what I think in the national interest not to allow Muslims into the country and he's acting consistently with the statute. It's possible that a court could block this type of order on costs, there's no grounds, it's hard to know whether that would happen, because there is really no direct precedent for that. Terms of trade, the president can tear up treaties, they can tear up NATO and because he controls american forces abroad, he could just not use them like a rush invades. Germany there's no way to force the president
they use troops to defend Germany. So he has a lot of power over these alliances entreaties as well and lets, say Donald Trump Present trumpeted decide that a new alliance was in the benefit of America. I know he does seem to profess credit, As for Vladimir as a leader, let's say that Trump decides, rather than being these kind of the cold war antagonists. When are we join forces and that we should essentially form an alliance, maybe even a merger? How far could Donald from go in not only tearing up existing alliances but may be creating new ones. You can do what he wants. He important could agree that henceforth, the United Bates and Russia are in a military allies and let suppose they it into an agreement that if one country were invaded than the other country will come to its aid and then absolutely Russia's invaded, I dunno by China. You know he would have the power
bring the military to Russia's aid. He can do those sorts of things. There are possible ways to constrain him, but just looking at the tradition, presidential power presents make agreements all the time, Obama himself made the IRAN agreement and the Paris agreement on climate change without the Chairman of the Senate, even though the constitution says the Senate supposed to be involved entreaties, but in many ways his powers limited, because he can't use a treaty to affect the right, and obligations of Americans in an american soil. So we can, for example, order. Every American descend a check of a hundred dollars to the russian Treasury that, when work, even if he promised Putin that he would do the same, you know it's a kind of a complicated thing, but in a few wants to destroy the world, he can do it. I mean that's our system if he wants to enter into force, the alliances, are tear up good alliances. He can do that. You know
until his impeached, till he leaves office and is replaced by another press and who you know, puts everything back in order, but that's what presidents have been doing for quite a long time. Hearing you talk, I have to think that if some, even a little bit of a constitution is then they have to be worried that the presidency is turning seems to be turning into a form of dictatorship, is that happening yes, that is happening other in a dictatorship is such a afraid term. You know, what's a better word, I like the term presidential primacy. That's a kind of vague we easily way of putting it. Isn't it you aren't we a scholar. We have very vague and easily from you people. Yes, it's true. So
I mean the Romans for example date they had an office called the dictator, who was a temporary office sort of like a commander in chief who had in a way the forces for six months. For a year, but would also have dictatorial power and people that this is a fortunate but necessary uncertainty. Emergency situations, but you know, the days when we think of dictator, we think of Hitler and people like that, and I don't think the presidency is headed in that direction. I think what we are getting is an administrative state headed by the president, but the reason why the present isn't going to be hit were we're anybody I in the foreseeable future, is that it continues to need political support in this Lord of his subordinates in the executive branch who he needs to carry out his orders and its support in the press and the country's just very complicated. I dont other there's a sense. There is a kind of a technical sense and
The present has more dictatorial power than the founders and he would. I think the practical implications are nearly as terrifying as that word suggests, because there continues to be all these constraints, political and others that prevent him from acting in an arbitrary fashion. Coming up next week on economics, radio. There are a variety of problems, many of them quite serious. That wouldn't seemed have much to do with one another, and yet they do problems like this one authority say: there's an avalanche of cocaine crossing our borders. Problems like this one year providing that vehicle. That's facilitated and tax evasion even this one. It looked like a commando operation, the three: were lowered ropes onto the roof of the building. What do high stakes, robbery, tax evasion
drug dealing all have in common the cash. So should we get rid of it. So countries already well under way and in a more distant future it might not be just cash. We ve gotten rid of
you see, money doesn't exist in the turn of the future of cash, its next time and for economic freedom. Friggin Amis radio is produced by w in my C studios and W productions. This episode is produced by Gregory's asking our staff also includes ervic Gunjay Jake, how it merit Jacob Christopher Worth: Caitlin Pierce, Alison, Hockenberry, Emma Morgenstern and Harry Huggins. You can subscribe to this path cast on Itunes wherever you get your pockets and please come visit for economics. Dot com we'll find our entire podcast archive, which includes a complete transcript of every episode with ever made, along with music credits and lots more thanks for listening.
Transcript generated on 2021-01-25.