Power of the American President
The Founding fathers of America believed in a separation of powers, a
system of checks and balances and a federal system of government. That
way power would be diffused and decentralised and tyranny would be
avoided. Implicit in the constitution is the principle of checks and
balances. This refers to the belief that the founding fathers had that
no one branch of the constitutional and government system would
dominate the rest. Thus President and congress often have to approve
the appointments and actions of each other, with the supreme court in
the background protecting the integrity of the constitution. There the
president is not all powerful.
After Watergate, presidents continue to find it a struggle to assert
their authority. Regan's authority was compromised by the "Iran gate"
affair; Bush faced criticism for the inadequacy of his domestic policy
agenda: and Clinton suffered the defeat of his main policy proposals.
All of them were frustrated by congresses unwillingness to conform to
the president's agenda, highlighting again a weakness.
In the British system of parliamentary government, a PM with an
overall majority is more or less assured of getting his/her policies
approved but the US system deliberately make it hard for the executive
to get policies through the system, this avoids tyranny but it
frustrates proposals of change - e.g. Clintons health bill.
Although the president of the United states is often regarded as the
most powerful head of state in the world. It is never the less a
constitutionally limited presidency. The powers of the executive,
vested in the president, are set out in article 2 of the constitution,
but they are enmeshed in a separation of powers.
The constitution powers of the president, as seen as the perspective
of 18th century conditions, were regarded as the minimum necessary to
ensure efficient and unified government. The president has the
constitutional power to recommend bills to congress and manage the
governments budget, to make treaties with foreign states and direct
federal administration. As well as being head of the executive branch
- with jurisdiction over the government bureaucracy - he was also to