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Friday, March 10, 2017

The Executive Office of the President & White House Staff

Celebration of our Knowledge (Quiz, Test, Assessment, whatever) of the Presidency on Wednesday!

The President has many people who assist with their duties. Today, we will look at the various positions and offices who help run the executive branch.

Trump's Cabinet

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Checks on Presidential Power

Although the President has many powers, both formal and informal, that does not mean that the President is all-powerful. In our constitutional system of separation of powers (more correctly shared powers) and checks and balances, there are limits to what the President can do. Today, we will look at some of the checks on Presidential power.

In your group, brainstorm the ways that Congress can limit the President.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Power to Persuade

HW due Thursday: Read 380-391 and take the reading quiz.

In addition to the constitutional duties and powers outlined in Article II, one of the most important powers is the power to persuade. Presidents cannot just snap their fingers and expect laws to be passed and policies implemented.  How can presidents use their status to influence and persuade others to do what they think is best?

Key terms: mandate, bully pulpit

Video on Presidential Persuasion

1. Explain the following quote:
    • “I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do the things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them….That’s all the powers of the President amount to.”  -Harry S Truman
2. Describe the Johnson Treatment.  How did LBJ get the Civil Rights Bill passed?
3. Describe the method utilized by Reagan in getting his tax cuts through.
4. How did LBJ and Reagan’s past experiences affect their tactics?

5. If you were a presidential advisor to Trump, what method would you recommend? Why?
6. How does public opinion limit or enhance a president's power?

Reading on The Power to Persuade

When presidents get elected, they often claim a mandate, or a directive from the voters to enact their policies. But, how accurate is the presidential mandate? Can presidents really claim this in the modern age?

Election Results 1824-2012

The Myth of the Presidential Mandate

Presidential Mandates: A Matter of Perception

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Chief Legislator & Chief Executive

HW due Tuesday: Read 371-380 and take the reading quiz.
HW due Thursday: Read 380-391 and take the reading quiz.

Among the various roles the president has, two of the most important are Chief Legislator and Chief Executive. As Chief Legislator, the President lays out his legislative agenda, typically through the State of the Union address and other public appearances. As Chief Executive, the President works to ensure that the laws are carried out, and often uses executive orders to help shape the bureaucracy and its enforcement.

Chief Legislator:

1. Delivers State of the Union

2. Proposes budget

3. Recommends other legislation (health care, gun control, school choice, etc)

4. Signs bills into law
*Use of signing statements?

5. Veto power over Congress

6. Line-item veto: Can the President veto certain parts of a bill?
Clinton v. City of New York, 1998

Chief Executive

1. Responsible for enforcing the law

2. Appoint people to key administrative/bureaucratic positions

3. Use executive orders (directives issued by the President that do not need congressional approval)

  • Carry the same weight as laws
  • May change with new president
  • Orders for the bureaucracy on how to enforce
  • Examples: Japanese-American internment, integration of the military, Emancipation Proclamation, stem-cell research, immigration reform
Executive Orders 101: What Are They and How Do Presidents Use Them?


Federal Judge Halt's Trump's Immigration Order

How Obama has used his executive orders compared to other presidents?

Trump Travel Ban Executive Order

Friday, March 3, 2017

The President as Commander in Chief & Chief Diplomat

Commander in Chief

The framers set up a system of shared powers over military decisions. While the president is the Commander in Chief, Congress has the sole responsibility to declare war among other military powers. How does this shared responsibility translate to the modern age? Recent military conflicts have led to questions over the proper roles of the president and Congress in trying to keep our country safe.

Today's Tasks:
1. Read the article, Constitution Check and watch the video on Obama going to war without Congressional approval.
2. Read one or two of the articles on Obama and the fight against ISIS
3. Discuss with your group members the question below:
Central Question for the Day: Does the President need Congressional approval to combat ISIS in the Middle East?
4. If still confused on War Powers Resolution, watch the HipHughes video on War Powers Resolution.
5. Watch the CrashCourse video on Presidential Powers pt. 2
6. Read through the ways that the President can affect foreign policy.
7. Be clear on the difference between Executive Agreements and treaties.


Constitution Check: Is Current US Military Action Against ISIS Illegal?


Does Obama Have the Legal Authority to Strike in Syria?

Obama Seeks Approval for Strikes in Syria

Can Obama Wage War on the Islamic State Without Congressional Approval?

Obama's Changing Tune on Permission to Fight ISIS

The War Powers Resolution Returns to the Public Arena

Can Obama Strike Syria Without Congress's Consent?

Is the President Actually Giving Up Some of his War Powers?

Chief Diplomat

In addition to the President's military powers as the Commander in Chief, he serves as the country's Chief Diplomat, taking the lead in directing foreign policy. Again, this is often a power that is shared with the legislative branch although presidents have found ways around congressional involvement in some cases.

Who should control foreign policy, the President or Congress?

How can the president influence foreign policy?

1. Negotiate treaties (subject to 2/3 Senate ratification)
Not always guaranteed--Versailles Treaty, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Rights of Persons with Disabilities

2. Executive Agreements (not subject to Senate approval)

Treaties vs. Executive Agreements: When Does Congress Get a Vote?

Executive Agreements and Senate Disagreements

Can Congress Stop the Iran Deal?

3. Administrative Proposal for legislation (Marshall Plan)

4. Diplomacy/Policy Statements/Doctrines (Camp David Accords, Truman Doctrine, Bush Doctrine)

5. Negotiation of International Agreements (NAFTA, TPP)

6. Appointment of Secretary of State, ambassadors

7. Recognition of foreign governments

8. Receiving of foreign leaders, ambassadors

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Presidential Powers

HW due Friday: Read 359-371 in Janda and complete the reading quiz.

Other readings: pg. 371-380 (due Tuesday)
                          pg. 380-391 (due Thursday)

Also, identification terms for this unit can be found here.

The president, as head of the executive branch, has a great variety of both constitutional and informal powers. Over the next several days, we will look at the powers the president wields in both domestic and foreign affairs.

We will begin by taking a look at the president and his military powers as Commander in Chief. The framers created a system of shared military powers between the legislative and executive branch. Read this backgrounder to understand how power is split between these two branches.  There is still much debate about how that power should be balanced and the growth of the presidency in the modern era.

Discussion Questions:
1. How does the Constitution distribute war powers between the President and Congress, and why did the Founders decide on this arrangement?
2. What was the War Powers Resolution of 1973?
3. Does the modern world require that the President have war power authority never envisioned by the framers? For example, can Congress respond sufficiently quickly to hijackings, terrorist bombings at overseas facilities, and other threats to American citizens?