How Obama Can Push Through the Gridlock

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country we bring you the unmissable quotes from political conversations on WNYC. On today's Brian Lehrer Show, Sarah R. Wartell, executive vice president at the Center for American Progress, talks about what President Obama can do to advance a progressive agenda without the help of Congress. 

So, the new GOP-controlled House may not be amenable to Obama's agenda. The Center for American Progress wants the president to remember he has another tool to get 'er done: the executive order. In a new report, the progressive think tank lays out a long list of proposals for job creation, clean energy, the housing market, and health care.

For example, Wartell says the Obama administration can look to the military to jumpstart the country's renewable energy sector.

The United States Air Force has airplane hangers around the country which are a perfect place to put solar arrays. And if we create that kind of demand for solar technologies here in the United States it can allow us to become more efficient, more effective at producing them and make our products more competitive, so there's lots that the President can do with the powers of the federal government to help create jobs and move the country forward.

Wartell says Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both effectively used their executive powers to get things done while dealing with a divided Congress. Though she says she's not suggesting the president make the same decisions as former President Bush, she says he can use the same kind of authority.

He [President Obama] needs to look at the authorities that exist in the executive branch to send a signal about the direction that we want to move the country on. So much of our focus has been on the stalemate in Congress. I think if people saw things getting done, the administration's standing with the public would rise as well.

The limits of the executive branch are evident and important, Wartell says, but within the president's authority there is still a wide and useful range of policy discretion he can use.


More in:

News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [1]

Where are the comments? I'd like to see what listeners said about this topic.

Nov. 25 2010 08:18 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.


About It's A Free Country ®

Archive of It's A Free Country articles and posts. Visit the It's A Free Country Home Page for lots more.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at


Supported by