Informal and Formal Powers of the President Essay

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American Politics

The American President is said to be the most powerful man in the world, but it is also said that the President has limited influence over domestic policy. Even if the President is relatively weak in terms of domestic policy, he still has tremendous power, more than just about anyone else. This paper will analyze the different formal and informal ways in which the President exerts influence over domestic policy. The paper will then examine the question of whether or not the President's authority on domestic affairs is relatively weak. This is an interesting question because it is a question of relativity in which the comparable matters. Compared with the President's powers on foreign affairs, Presidential powers in the realm of domestic affairs are relatively weak. Compared with anybody else's powers, the powers of the President in the realm of domestic affairs is strong; nobody else has as much power as the President.

One formal means by which the President influences policy is through the budget. Each year, the President proposes a budget. This proposed budget sets out what will be much of the policy framework. The budget will contain many of the President's policy priorities, and these are then subject to discussion in Congress. Congress must address the spending proposals and cuts. In this way, the President is essentially given the opportunity to set the agenda for the coming year's priorities. It is still up to Congress to hammer out the details of the budget, but they are working with the framework laid out by the President.

The President also has veto power. Congress passes bills, but they must be signed into law by the President. As such, the President has veto power over any law the Congress creates. For example, when Republicans repeatedly passed bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama simply vetoed them. If Congress wishes to pass, change or abolish a law, it must do so with the approval of the President. As such, the President holds considerable influence over what laws will be passed, and what spending priorities will be reflected in those laws (Hudak, 2014).

The President can also sign executive orders. These are instructions that the President, as head of the executive branch, can issue to agencies of the federal government, which are under command of the executive branch.

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These orders are essentially as powerful as laws, and this is built into the Constitution. The power to create executive orders ends up being a form of de facto lawmaking.

Lastly, the President also appoints a lot of people. These appointees will be judges, or head departments, and the choice of appointee can go a long way to promoting the President's agenda on domestic affairs. As an example, let's talk about Betsy DeVos. Now, this is a person who was appointed to head the Department of Education, but whose views on the privatization of education differ rather starkly from the majority of the Department's staff and from its past leadership. The same can be said about the new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, and his views on the environment. These appointees reflect the policy priorities of the current President. They are the leaders of these organizations, so they hold a tremendous amount of influence over the ways that these agencies are run. Those agencies, in turn, contribute a lot to domestic policy. The EPA is tasked with setting environmental policy -- and enforcing it. The Department of Education is intended to steward the education of Americans so that the country can continue to be an economic and scientific leader in this world. The effects of these appointees could be felt for generations to come, if they are able to fully implement their agendas -- the agendas of the President.

Then there is the informal power that the President has. The President's informal power derives from a couple of things. One is the rank of the office itself. The formal power that the President has, combined with the highly public nature of the role, means that the President controls a lot of the messaging in government. So when the President talks at length about this priority or that, then Congress is often under considerable pressure to bring about the outcomes that the President supports.

This public use of informal power is matched by behind-the-scenes use of the same influence. The President has an army of people working throughout government. They understand how the budget connects to policy, and how….....

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Hudak, J. (2014). How do Presidents use their influence in the budgeting process to influence political outcomes? Forbes Retrieved April26, 2017 from

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