Obama Vows to Move Agenda Forward Without Waiting for Congress: 'I've Got a Pen' (Video)

Expand | Collapse
(Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)U.S. President Barack Obama holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington January 14, 2014.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday he would move ahead with his "year of action" agenda without waiting for Congress to pass legislation.

"I've got a pen, and I've got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward," he told reporters before a meeting with his Cabinet.

Obama described 2014 as a "year of action" at last month's end of the year press conference. Since then, the phrase has emerged as a theme for the White House. His Jan. 11 weekly address, for instance, was titled, "Ensuring 2014 is a Year of Action to Grow the Economy."

At Tuesday's press conference Obama made clear that the action will not necessarily include Congress.

"We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we're providing Americans the kind of help that they need," he said.

Immigration reform and economic growth were two of the issues Obama listed as needing action in 2014.

Obama also implied that members of Congress who do not agree with his agenda are doing so to benefit themselves electorally.

"And I am absolutely confident that in 2014," he explained, "if we're all working in the same direction and not worrying so much about political points but worrying much more about getting the job done, that we can see a lot of improvement this year."

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that Obama could help the economy by asking the Senate to vote on legislation passed by the House.

"If the president's serious about wanting to improve the prospects for our economy — and higher wages and better jobs — all he has to do is pick up the phone and call Democrat leaders in the Senate and ask them to move one of these dozens of bills that we've sent over there that would help put Americans back to work," Boehner said, according to Reuters.

Some critics have argued that some of Obama's use of executive orders have been an abuse of power.

In a June, 2012, interview with The Christian Post, Mark Rozell, professor of public policy at George Mason University, claimed that Obama is much like his predecessors in abusing his power when passing legislation proves difficult.

"Presidents get frustrated with trying to deal with separation of powers and constraints on their authority," he said, "and they discover over time that, if there are ways to act unilaterally and get things done and look strong, they'll do it. I don't think it's very good for a system of checks and balances that our system has evolved this way."

Obama's 2014 goals: Immigration reform & economic recovery