Calling the Shots: The President, Executive Orders, and Public Policy

Brookings Institution Press
Free sample

Modern presidents are CEOs with broad powers over the federal government.

The United States Constitution lays out three hypothetically equal branches of government—the executive, the legislative, and the judicial—but over the years, the president, as head of the executive branch, has emerged as the usually dominant political and administrative force at the federal level. In fact, Daniel Gitterman tells us, the president is, effectively, the CEO of an enormous federal bureaucracy.

Using the unique legal authority delegated by thousands of laws, the ability to issue executive orders, and the capacity to shape how federal agencies write and enforce rules, the president calls the shots as to how the government is run on a daily basis. Modern presidents have, for example, used the power of the purchaser to require federal contractors to pay a minimum wage and to prohibit contracting with companies and contractors that knowingly employ unauthorized alien workers.

Presidents and their staffs use specific tools, including executive orders and memoranda to agency heads, as instruments of control and influence over the government and the private sector. For more than a century, they have used these tools without violating the separation of powers. Calling the Shots demonstrates how each of these executive powers is a powerful weapon of coercion and redistribution in the president's political and policymaking arsenal.

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About the author

Daniel Gitterman is Duncan MacRae ’09 and Rebecca Kyle MacRae Professor and Chair of Public Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill. He also serves as Director of the Honors Seminar on Public Policy and Global Affairs in DC.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Feb 14, 2017
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780815729037
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / American Government / Executive Branch
Political Science / Intergovernmental Organizations
Political Science / Public Affairs & Administration
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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When most people think of policies designed to help the poor, welfare is the first program that comes to mind. Traditionally welfare has served individuals who do not work—hence much of the stigma that some attach to the program. An equally important strand of American social policy, however, is meant to support low-wage workers and their families. In Boosting Paychecks, Daniel Gitterman illuminates this often neglected part of the American safety net.

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Forging a new political bargain that balances labor market flexibility with security for poor working families is one of the most critical challenges facing government today. Boosting Paychecks sheds new light on the scope of this challenge and the political constraints and opportunities policymakers face.

Washington Post national investigative reporter Carol Leonnig and White House bureau chief Philip Rucker, both Pulitzer Prize winners, provide the definitive insider narrative of Donald Trump's unique presidency with shocking new reporting and insight into its implications.

“I alone can fix it.” So went Donald J. Trump’s march to the presidency on July 21, 2016, when he accepted the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland, promising to restore what he described as a fallen nation. Yet over the subsequent years, as he has undertaken the actual work of the commander in chief, it has been hard to see beyond the daily chaos of scandal, investigation, and constant bluster. It would be all too easy to mistake Trump’s first term for one of pure and uninhibited chaos, but there were patterns to his behavior and that of his associates. The universal value of the Trump administration is loyalty - not to the country, but to the president himself - and Trump’s North Star has been the perpetuation of his own power, even when it meant imperiling our shaky and mistrustful democracy.

Leonnig and Rucker, with deep and unmatched sources throughout Washington, D.C., tell of rages and frenzies but also moments of courage and perseverance. Relying on scores of exclusive new interviews with some of the most senior members of the Trump administration and other firsthand witnesses, the authors reveal the forty-fifth president up close, taking readers inside Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as well as the president’s own haphazard but ultimately successful legal defense. Here for the first time certain officials who have felt honor-bound not to publicly criticize a sitting president or to divulge what they witnessed in a position of trust tell the truth for the benefit of history.

This peerless and gripping narrative reveals President Trump at his most unvarnished and exposes how decision making in his administration has been driven by a reflexive logic of self-preservation and self-aggrandizement - but a logic nonetheless. This is the story of how an unparalleled president has scrambled to survive and tested the strength of America’s democracy and its common heart as a nation.
For decades no law enforcement program has been as cloaked in controversy and mystery as the Federal Witness Protection Program. Now, for the first time, Gerald Shur, the man credited with the creation of WITSEC, teams with acclaimed investigative journalist Pete Earley to tell the inside story of turncoats, crime-fighters, killers, and ordinary human beings caught up in a life-and-death game of deception in the name of justice.

WITSEC
Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program

When the government was losing the war on organized crime in the early 1960s, Gerald Shur, a young attorney in the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, urged the department to entice mobsters into breaking their code of silence with promises of protection and relocation. But as high-ranking mob figures came into the program, Shur discovered that keeping his witnesses alive in the face of death threats involved more than eradicating old identities and creating new ones. It also meant cutting off families from their pasts and giving new identities to wives and children, as well as to mob girlfriends and mistresses.

It meant getting late-night phone calls from protected witnesses unable to cope with their new lives. It meant arranging funerals, providing financial support, and in one instance even helping a mobster’s wife get breast implants. And all too often it meant odds that a protected witness would return to what he knew best–crime.

In this book Shur gives a you-are-there account of infamous witnesses, from Joseph Valachi to “Sammy the Bull” Gravano to “Fat Vinnie” Teresa, of the lengths the program goes to to keep its charges safe, and of cases that went very wrong and occasionally even protected those who went on to kill again.

He describes the agony endured by innocent people who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up in a program tailored to criminals. And along with Shur’s war stories, WITSEC draws on the haunting words of one mob wife, who vividly describes her life of lies, secrecy, and loss inside the program.

A powerful true story of the inner workings of one of the most effective and controversial weapons in the war against organized crime and the inner workings of organized crime itself–and more recently against Colombian drug dealers, outlaw motorcycle gang members, white-collar con men, and international terrorists–this book takes us into a tense, dangerous twilight world carefully hidden in plain sight: where the family living next door might not be who they say they are. . .
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