WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama came into office four years ago skeptical of pushing the power of the White House to the limit, especially if it appeared to be circumventing Congress.
Now, as he launches his second term, Obama has grown more comfortable wielding power to try to move his own agenda forward, particularly when a deeply fractured, often-hostile Congress gets in his way.
He’s done it with a package of tools, some of which date to George Washington and some invented in the modern era of an increasingly powerful presidency. And he’s done it with a frequency that belies his original campaign criticisms of predecessor George W. Bush, invites criticisms that he’s bypassing the checks and balances of Congress and the courts, and whets the appetite of liberal activists who want him to do even more to advance their goals.
While his decision to send drones to kill U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism has garnered a torrent of criticism, his use of executive orders and other powers at home is deeper and wider.