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May 10, 2011 / J. Shaw

Podesta Grp:Obama Should Govern with Executive Powers-To Do List

Actions Obama can take independent of Congress,

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR…..President Obama should refocus his administration to concentrate on executive actions he can take independent of Congress, after two years in which voters have become disgusted with the “sausage-making”of legislation, according to a report released today by a liberal policy group.

In the report by the Center for American Progress, John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, argues that the public is eager to see Mr. Obama be strong and decisive in ways that he can’t be while negotiating and compromising with Congress.

“President Obama’s ability to govern the country as chief executive presents an opportunity to demonstrate strength, resolve and a capacity to get things done on a host of pressing challenges of importance to the public and our economy,” writes Podesta, the group’s president and chief executive. “Progress, not positioning, is what the public wants and deserves.”

The report, called “Power of the President,” identifies more than 30 specific areas where Podesta and his staff believe Mr. Obama could act.

Among them:

* On energy, they urge him to reduce oil imports, conserve federal lands, engage with hunters to develop a wildlife plan and install solar panels on the roofs of hangars owned by the Air Force.

* Domestically, the group suggests a new strategy to promote American competitiveness, an aggressive push to start the new consumer protection agency, efforts to promote mediation to avoid foreclosures and moves to simplify access to federal antipoverty programs.

* And on national security policy, the report calls for the use of executive authority to mitigate the impact of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, new support for a Palestinian state, a comprehensive policy on the Russia-Georgia conflict and a new focus on the strategic alliance with Turkey.

Presidents in the past have made similar shifts in approach during their terms, especially when faced with new challenges from the opposing party in Congress. The report notes that Mr. Clinton protected more open space than any president since Theodore Roosevelt after his party lost control of Congress in 1994.

The 48-page report praises Mr. Obama’s administration for executive actions it has already taken, including moves to increase the number of college graduates and to identify trade deals with India.

But it notes that the legislative battles that Mr. Obama waged during his first two years — notably on health care and financial regulatory reform — have created a weariness among the general public with the process of making laws. And it hints it has not helped Mr. Obama politically in the process.

“It would be a welcome relief from watching legislative maneuvering to see the work of a strong executive who is managing the business of the country through troubled times, doing more with less, each day working to create a stronger economy and a more effective government,” the report says.

The full report can be found here.

thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/

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