John Podesta and the Imperial Presidency

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 20 2013 3:07 PM

John Podesta and the Imperial Presidency

What's all this about "checks and balances"?

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

After Politico profiled John Podesta, Republicans pounced on the incoming White House counseler's comparison of Republicans to the Jonestown cult. Your humble reporter-blogger suggested that they had missed the forest for a particularly stupid-looking tree—the more intriguing part of Podesta's theory of Republican intransigence was that he wanted the executive to find more ways around Congress.

Two days later, Mike Dorning is out with a more detailed story about Podesta's ambitions.

Less than two weeks after the returns came in, Podesta had compiled 47 pages of proposals for unilateral action on issues from immigration to solar energy. President Barack Obama’s ability to “accomplish important change through these powers should not be underestimated,” he wrote.

The rest of the article adds little (apart from a hilarious quote from a Clinton aide-turned-Goldman Sachs spokesman), so you're better off reading those 47 pages. Some of the recommendations—telling the EPA to classify coal ash as a pollutant and "spur the retirement" of coal plants—have already happened. Among the other Podesta recs:

Instruct the secretary of commerce and secretary of defense to determine   whether continued high rates of oil imports threaten to impair national security. If they make the determination that they do, then the President should invoke   the authority granted under the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of   1988 to levy a fee on imported oil, applied in a manner consistent with United   States obligations under international agreements


Use his executive authority to require the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to encourage private health insurers to promote payment reforms.

and a lot more foreign policy stabs and environmental regulations, though the latter of those might hinder Democratic candidates for Senate in Kentucky and West Virginia. Robert Kuttner has another list, proposed around the same time as Podesta's—the point is that there's now someone sympathetic to this coming into the administration.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 9:26 AM These Lego Masterpieces Capture the Fear and Humor of the “Dark” Side
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 8:46 AM The Vintage eBay Find I Wore to My Sentencing
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.