Obama asks Cabinet for 'creative' use of executive powers

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President Obama on Tuesday asked his Cabinet to help him find more ways to use his executive powers.

“You’ve already seen the power of some of our executive actions making a real difference for ordinary families,” Obama said at a White House meting. “We’re going to have to be creative about how we can make real progress.”

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The president is increasingly relying on executive orders and regulatory moves to move his agenda, despite opposition from House Republicans, who have threatened to sue him over his executive actions, and the Supreme Court, which ruled last week that Obama’s recess appointments were unconstitutional.

The president has raised the minimum wage for federal contractors, and is using regulatory actions to impose tough new carbon emission limits on power plants.

Obama has seen his legislative agenda grind to a halt with Congress, and on Monday said he would take executive action to move forward on immigration reform, one of his top second-term priorities.

He cast his actions as a response to voters who elected him in 2012.

“The people who sent us here, they just don’t feel as if anybody is fighting for them or working them,” he said. “We’re not always going to be able to get things through Congress … but we sure as heck can make sure that the folks back home know that we are pushing their agenda and that we’re working hard on their behalf.”

The White House has looked to paint congressional Republicans as obstinate at every turn in recent days, in hopes of pinning national frustration with Washington on the GOP ahead of the midterm elections. 

Republicans have sought to paint Obama as abusing his powers. On Monday, they heralded the Supreme Court’s decision against the ObamaCare contraception mandate as a win for religious liberty and a defeat for the president.

Separately, Obama said he would ask his Cabinet members to help improve customer service across government agencies, and said he would spend the coming months accentuating the positive about government services.

“I want to make sure that we emphasize not what we can’t do, but what we can do in the coming months,” Obama said.