President Barack Obama defended his effort to bypass Congress and push policy through executive actions in a Thursday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Tapper asked Obama how he would respond to the camp of Republicans who were highly critical of his vow to use his pen and phone to enact executive orders if Congress doesn’t act on the agenda he laid out in his State of the Union address. Some, like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), have warned that they may sue if Obama takes that approach.
“Well, I don’t think that’s very serious. I mean, the truth of the matter is, is that every president engages in executive actions,” he told Tapper. “In fact, we’ve been very disciplined and sparing in terms of the executive actions that we have taken. We make sure that we’re doing it within the authority that we have under statute. But I am not going to make an apology for saying that if I can help middle class families and folks who are working hard to try to get in the middle class do a little bit better, then I’m going to do it.”
Tapper pointed out that early on in his presidency, Obama spoke in terms of bringing together a divided nation. He asked whether the President has since recalibrated his expectations.
Obama said that his expectations hadn’t been diminished, as his administration had made strides in health care reform and education, but added that “what is obviously true is we’ve got divided government right now.”
“The House Republicans, in particular, have had difficulty rallying around any agenda, much less mine,” he said. “And in that kind of environment, what I don’t want is the American people to think that the only way for us to make big change is through legislation.”
Watch below, courtesy of CNN:
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.