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John Edwards \'08: "Health Care“

Edwards: When I\'m president, I\'m going to say to members of Congress and members of my administration, including my Cabinet, "I\'m glad that you have health care coverage and that your family has health care coverage. But if you don\'t pass universal health care by July 2009 - six months - I\'m going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you."Edwards: There\'s no excuse for politicians in Washington having health care when you don\'t have health care.I\'m John Edwards and I approve this message.


THERE is an idea, which is not without its advocates, that a vigorous executive is inconsistent with the genius of republican government. The enlightened well‑wishers to this species of government must at least hope that the supposition is destitute of foundation; since they can never admit its truth, without at the same time admitting the condemnation of their own principles.

Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high‑handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy. . . .

A feeble executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government. --Alexander Hamilton, “Federalist #70”


Hamilton’s Supporters

  • Eric A. Posner: “Although the Constitution gave some significant powers to Congress, including the power to appropriate funds and to declare war, Hamilton’s formulation ensured that the president had dominant authority over foreign affairs.”
  • John Yoo: “The White House has declared that the Constitution allows the president to sidestep laws that invade his executive authority.” He condemns critics “who seemto believe that the Constitution created a system of judicial or congressional supremacy.”
foreign policy powers under the constitution

Commander in Chief

commission all officers

receive ambassadors

President and Senate:

appoint ambassadors

make treaties

Congress (conditional veto):

impose duties… to provide for the common defense

regulate commerce with foreign nations

establish a rule of naturalization

regulate the value of foreign coin

define & punish piracies & felonies committed on the high seas & offenses against the Law of Nations

declare war, grant letters of marque & reprisal, & make rules concerning captures

raise & support armies

provide & maintain a navy

make rules for armed forces

provide for calling forth the militia to repel invasions

prescribe training of militia

exercise exclusive jurisdiction over forts, arsenals, etc.

make all laws which shall be necessary and proper

Foreign Policy Powers under the Constitution

the imperial presidency by arthur schlesinger jr
Growth of presidential power has been fairly gradual, and most has been concentrated in the areas of military and foreign affairs.

George W. Bush on Iraq & Social Security

Presidential power grows in times of crisis and shrinks in time of calm.

But it always grows more than it shrinks.

The Imperial Presidencyby Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Take Home Lessons

the imperial presidency
Control over Information

Executive Privilege


Mexican War

Civil War

Emancipation Proclamation

Andrew Johnson Impeachment

The Imperial Presidency
Spanish American War

World War I

Treaty of Versailles

League of Nations

Permanent Crisis

Great Depression

World War II

Cold War Cult of the Presidency

The Imperial Presidency

the revolutionary presidency of richard nixon
Policy Impoundment

Selective Enforcement

Legislation by Executive Order

Pocket Veto

Perpetual and Universal Privilege

Police Powers of National Government

War Powers Act

Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act

Secret Wars in Laos and Cambodia


Threatened Impeachment & Nixon Resignation

The Revolutionary Presidency of Richard Nixon
growth of presidential power technology the constitution
Growth of Presidential Power: Technology & the Constitution
  • The Framers’ fear of unified power.
  • Secrecy and dispatch.
  • One voice.
  • Chief bureaucrat.
actual expected values
Actual & (Expected) Values

Chi-square = 17.06. Probability that Presidential Preference and Position on Electoral College are unrelated is less than 0.001%.

  • Leaving the Electoral College alone is the “conservative” thing to do.
  • The Electoral College is justified by its results, and it gave us President Bush.
electoral college biases1
Electoral College Biases
  • Small sates have a mathematical over-representation because they get at least three electoral votes regardless of how few people live there.
  • States with low voter turnout get protected in terms of influence because the electoral college makes voter turnout irrelevant.
  • States (especially large states) where either candidate might win become the key battlegrounds and gain disproportionate influence as both sides pour in massive resources.
electoral college biases2
Electoral College Biases
  • The system of representation in the contingency procedure is a huge departure from the currently accepted principle of one-person-one vote.
  • For what it\'s worth, a different set of states are disproportionately powerful in the nomination phase of the presidential campaign.

Take Home Lesson



Mr. Maps

Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

social welfare policy
Social Welfare Policy
  • It reflects our political culture: individual self-reliance trumps equality.
  • It reflects our political parties: the policies of each party reflect the interests of the core constituencies they represent.
  • It reflects the strength of business interest groups: most welfare programs pay private businesses to service the poor rather than giving money to the poor or having government provide the services directly.
  • It reflects the general distribution of power in society: vastly more welfare dollars actually flow to the non-poor than to the poor.