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Now Obama gets 'executive power' czar

John Podesta

A senior progressive strategist and former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton who specializes in the use of executive authority to bypass Congress is reportedly joining the White House.

The New York Times is reporting John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress, has agreed to serve as counselor to President Obama for a year.

Podesta last month announced the establishment of a new group, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, that will work within his Center for American Progress. The new center bills itself as a research and grant-making organization founded to accelerate the closing of what it calls the income gap in the U.S. by fighting so-called income inequality.

The Times reported Podesta will help the White House on “matters related to the health care law, administration organization and executive actions,” with particular focus on so-called climate change issues, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Podesta is a long-time champion of the use of executive powers, including bypassing the legislative branch to enact progressive change.

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In November 2010, he co-authored a 48-page Center for American Progress paper titled “The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change.”

“The U.S. Constitution and the laws of our nation grant the president significant authority to make and implement policy,” wrote Podesta in the paper’s introduction.

“These authorities can be used to ensure positive progress on many of the key issues facing the country through executive orders, rulemaking, agency management, convening and creating public-private partnerships, commanding the armed forces … diplomacy.”

Podesta stressed: “The ability of President Obama to accomplish important change through these powers should not be underestimated.”

In a conference call to reporters after the release of the paper on executive authority, Podesta recalled that after Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, President Clinton utilized his executive privileges to enact progressive change without the help of Congress.

Podesta’s paper details how Obama can push executive change on a host of issues.

The paper states that on energy and environmental arena, the president can:

On the domestic policy front, Podesta’s paper recommends that Obama:

Regarding education policy, the paper states the president can:

With regard to “improving the performance of the federal government,” the president can:

And in the foreign policy and national security arena, the president and his administration can:

In 2008, Podesta served as co-director of Obama’s transition into the White House.

A Time magazine article profiled the influence of Podesta’s Center for American Progress in the formation of the Obama administration, stating that “not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan’s transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway.”

The center is funded by billionaire George Soros. Its board includes Van Jones, Obama’s former “green jobs” czar, who resigned in September 2009 after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary organization.

With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott.

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