How much impact does the President of the United States have? In what ways does the President have influence over U.S. policy, in areas such as foreign policy, domestic policy, the economy, and the courts?
This episode of Freakonomics Radio explores this question and a lot of related questions, all of which I believe are relevant to EAs who want to influence U.S. public policy. It's hard for me to summarize the entire podcast episode, but I noticed a few key points:
- The President has a lot of power over foreign policy, the executive branch itself, and the judicial branch. Donald Trump's judicial appointees will exert power over how the law is interpreted long after Trump himself has left office, and Trump has had an especially easy time nominating and getting them confirmed because of recent changes to Senate rules under Harry Reid in 2013 and Mitch McConnell in 2017.
- The President can also wield a lot of influence through leadership, or what's called the "bully pulpit."
- Opinions varied on how much power the President wields over the economy. Although the economy is influenced by a lot of factors outside the President's control, Trump's election created expectations of good future performance which caused stocks to go up, and his actions regarding deregulation and trade have had an impact on the economy itself.