The Constitution gives Congress primary power over taxes and spending. Congress gives money to the executive branch designated for specific purposes. The president isn’t empowered to take money appropriated for, say, the Pentagon, and spend it instead on a new jobs program of his own design. When past presidents have tried to exert economic powers beyond what’s given to them by Congress and the Constitution, they’ve gotten slapped down.
President Harry Truman tried to take over the steel industry, citing a national emergency, but the Supreme Court ruled the action unconstitutional, Galston noted. Richard Nixon tried to “impound” money that Congress had appropriated rather than spend it as intended, but Congress struck back with a budget act that constrained him and effectively denied him the power.
[Former policy advisor William] Galston suggested that 90 to 95 percent of what Obama will recommend next week “will require someone else’s consent,” namely Congress.
Republicans say there’s plenty Obama could do, beginning with embracing tax cuts, revoking federal regulations that they say handcuff business — and abandoning any push for more federal spending to spark job creation.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Friday blamed sluggish private-sector job growth on the “triple threat of higher taxes, more failed ‘stimulus’ spending and excessive federal regulations.