Obama Presses for ‘Creative’ Ways to Bypass Congress
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The Fiscal Times
July 1, 2014

If House Speaker John Boehner thought threatening to sue President Obama over his use of executive orders would force the White House to scale back on efforts to work around Congress — the Ohio Republican may have miscalculated.

For the second day in a row, the president took direct public shots at Boehner personally and the House Republicans in general. On Tuesday, he went as far as telling members of his cabinet to look for “creative” ways to work around Congress.

Related: Obama Mocks Congress One Day After SCOTUS Rebuke

In public remarks delivered before a Cabinet meeting Tuesday morning, Obama said, “What I’m going to be urging all of you to do, and what I’m going to be continually pushing throughout this year and for the next couple of years, is that if Congress can’t act on core issues that would actually make a difference in helping middle-class families get ahead, then we’re going to have to be creative about how we can make real progress.”

“We’re not always going to be able to get things through Congress, at least this Congress, the way we want to,” the president continued. “But we sure as heck can make sure that the folks back home know that we’re pushing their agenda and that we’re working hard on their behalf and we’re doing every single thing we can do to make a difference in their lives. So I want to make sure that we emphasize not what we can’t do, but what we can do in the coming months.”

Obama has, in fact, issued fewer executive orders than any president in the past 50 years. Buthe has exercised his executive authority in ways that have greatly irked the GOP, leading to Boehner’s announcement last week that he would file a federal lawsuit against the president seeking to rein him in.

While Obama has derided the suit as a “stunt,” not all of his presidential actions have passed legal muster. Just last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the president violated the Constitution in making some of his recess appointments.

Related: Obama Practically Dares Boehner to Sue Him

“As the Supreme Court reminded us this week, under our Constitution there are sharp limits to what the president can accomplish if he ignores the American people and their elected representatives,” Boehner said in a statement Monday.

Obama, though, is working overtime to paint his use of executive actions as a response to real middle class problems and is wearing Boehner’s lawsuit as a badge of honor.

In remarks delivered on the Georgetown waterfront Tuesday afternoon, the president urged Congress to act to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which will expire this summer. But it wasn’t long before he returned to the subject of working around Congress.

“Republican obstruction is not just some abstract political stunt. It has real and direct consequences for middle class families all across the country,” he said.

Related: 9 Cases the GOP Would Love to Bring Against Obama

Obama cited numerous executive orders, including raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors, and improving equal pay protection for women. “And they criticize me for this,” Obama said bitterly. “Boehner sued me for this.”

He continued, “Middle class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff. So sue me. As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something.”

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A longtime reporter on the intersection of the federal government and the private sector, Rob Garver is National Correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. He has written for ProPublica, The New York Times and other publications.