Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer took to The Huffington Post Tuesday to declare that President Barack Obama is “picking up the pace on executive actions,” claiming that Congress has focused on “obsessively trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act” and “ginning up politically motivated investigations” rather than the economy.
In a blog post titled “How to Govern When Congress Would Rather Repeal and Re-investigate Than Legislate,” Pfeiffer criticized House lawmakers for forming a select committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks.
“Next week, as congressional Republicans spend their energy on yet another partisan investigation, we’ll be picking up the pace on the executive actions to help the economy,” Pfeiffer added.
Obama’s adviser did not reveal the nature of the executive actions Americans can expect the President to take but said that Obama would “use every ounce of his authority to unilaterally improve economic security.
Around the White House we refer to this strategy as “the Pen and the Phone” — the Pen is the use of executive orders, presidential memorandums, and other authorities; the Phone is the 21st century version of Teddy Roosevelt’s Bully Pulpit — using the power of the Oval Office and social media to get businesses, local communities, nonprofits, and ordinary citizens to take steps to improve the country.
President Obama is putting his pen and his phone to work, making measurable progress on the Opportunity Agenda laid out in the State of the Union. Since the start of 2014, he’s taken more than 20 executive actions — from launching high-tech manufacturing hubs to creating retirement programs that makes it easier to save — that will help create jobs, while broadening opportunity for millions of Americans. And there are more on the way. None by itself is a moonshot, but taken together these executive actions represent concrete, meaningful steps to help the middle class and everyone who wants to join it.
Scanning through recent roll call votes that show lawmakers working on budgetary matters and other day-to-day legislative drudgery, it is evident that Congress is not entirely preoccupied with the Benghazi select committee as Pfeiffer suggests. In fact, the senior aide’s fixation on the Benghazi investigation indicates that Obama’s re-hashing of the “pen and phone” style of governance is likely an attempt by the White House to distract Americans from what may be a damning Congressional inquiry.
Today, Obama is expected to whip out his pen and designate nearly half a million acres in New Mexico as a national monument. This will be the 11th time the President has established a national monument since taking office and the largest one to date. For comparisons’ sake, President George W. Bush designated only four national monuments during his tenure in the White House.
“A recent, independent study found that a new national monument could generate $7.4 million in new economic activity annually from new visitors and business opportunities while preserving access for sportsmen, ranchers and recreational users,” Obama press secretary Jay Carney said of the monument earlier this week. “This signing is part of our larger weeklong focus on helping businesses invest here in America to further grow our economy and create jobs.”
And early next month, the President is expected to personally unveil a series of climate-related rule changes for coal-fired power plants.
“We have many more executive actions to come, and every day the president has charged us with looking for additional ways to expand opportunity,” Pfeiffer said.