Posted by | August 2, 2011 14:04 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

A number of folks on the left have recently been complaining that Obama is only concerned about his reelection next year. I don’t know about “only,” but I sure hope that is the number one thing he is thinking about.  As Jacob Hacker and Oona Hathaway note, the presidency has gained a huge amount of power over the past 40 years.

For decades, presidents have been making more frequent use of executive orders, signing statements and agency regulations, as well as sole executive agreements with other nations (instead of treaties or Congressionally authorized international agreements).

The debt ceiling negotiations were a rare instance of Congress asserting itself.  On most issue areas the president reigns supreme.  For example last week EPA and NHTSA raised mileage standards to 54 mpg (with the support of automakers!!).

President Obama today announced new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks that are expected to produce savings for consumers, reduce U.S. oil dependence, and reduce air pollutants. Joined by executives from the top auto manufacturers in a rare showing of agreement, the president put forward new standards that would require cars and light trucks for Model Years 2017-2025 to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The administration’s full report details the fuel economy standards established under Obama’s presidency. Taken together, the standards will save American families a total of $1.7 trillion in fuel, reduce oil consumption by an estimated 2.2 million barrels a day in 2025, save 12 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the program, and cut “greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program, while reducing pollutants like air toxics, cause soot, and smog.”

Obviously this is fantastic news and it never would have happened if a Republican was president.  As I’ve noted frequently here, decisions like this happen every day to save lives and improve the public welfare (and that’s not to even mention foreign policy where the president’s power is even more unfettered).  And they don’t happen in Congress. President Obama is focused on his reelection and he should be.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.