Has the president been a driving force behind increasing the scope and power of government (and thus of the president)?
I agree with the above post. This President has, it seems, enlarged the scope of the federal government. Certainly he has increased the number of federal workers at all levels, and his programs and initiatives have given the government more decision-making power over private enterprises than any other time in modern history. This seems to be a President who would have been a driving force for such policies under normal circumstances; the faltering economy surely helped him accomplish these things and became a driving force of its own, at least to some degree.
One of the most marked additions to the scope and power of government has been the recent takeover of private industry and enterprise such Chrysler and General Motors where the government appointed the CEO for this major corporation. Also, the government during the present administration has taken some control of the banking industry and placed some restrictions on Wall Street, a move that is unprecedented in U.S. history. And, the new health care program signed by the current president is certainly another example of government expansion.
The number of government employees has clearly been expanded with a new group of people referred to as czars, who are in charge of the new bureaus recently created.
In another unprecedented action, the federal government is extending itself by suing the state of Arizona which seeks to enforce a federal law that the federal government refuses to do. Recently on national news, there was a report that amnesty for 14 million illegal immigrants to enable the voting power of one party is also being considered by the present governing body.
The previous thoughts were dead on. The growth of the government behind these presidents were because they strongly associated themselves with the office and, thus the expansion of one was the expansion of the other. I would say that Nixon might have been the example that reflects how this growth might be a destructive element. When we examine the growth of negativity in the office of President in terms of what was done and how it was achieved, it might be a situation where the President showed that limitation or monitoring from an outside force is essential in any venture where there is so much power to be used. When Nixon increases the role of government with secret tapings, slush funds, "Plumbers," as well as authorizing the government to engage in similar covert and deceptive activities, it reflects how the President can be a driving force behind increasing the scope and power of government, but also how this might need to be checked. In the end, Nixon might be the exception that proves why some level of monitoring and limitations are not that bad of things.
If you take a look at each of the presidents listed above, presidents have increased the power of the office in changing times (hopefully in good faith) as they saw necessary.
FDR in particular granted his increase with an effort to help create jobs. Whether he was successful or not, that was his intention. We see similar effort today, but people criticize whether the government sector is the right place to help create jobs. If the government creates tons of jobs it could create a voting workforce that feeds only itself - the government. Then we have a one-dimensional thought process of a people. Many argue the government should position business to be able to create more jobs as this promotes free-thinking.
George W. increased his power because we were facing an unseen enemy that was not like any we had ever seen before. He had to do something. I think he must have done what he thought was right although many disagree with how he let his pursuit of this unforeseen enemy play out.
Presidents have certainly contributed to the increase of employees in government over time because of unforeseen tragedies. This creates more power and greater bureaucracy.
On the flip side of the efforts of these presidents we must look at a few more details:
First, the have a party that they work with who contributes to their agenda. Some of their colleagues are as guilty or more in giving government more power.
Second, the people still have voting power and are in recent elections growing their interest in the ability to elect officials that represent them. They will demonstrate favor or distrust in their incumbents every election.
Finally, the president has the power to write something called an executive order. You will have to look into this a litte, but these are like laws that the president just issues. They don't really seem to show up in court much. Laws that are enacted by a group of legislators always holds greater weight, and that is important because no one man should ever control an entire country.
You can certainly argue that presidents have driven the increase in the scope and power of the federal government. I will look at three presidents who have done this to illustrate the point.
First, there was FDR. He increased the scope of the federal government more than any other president. He did this through his New Deal programs that got the government involved in society in ways that were never before contemplated.
Second was Lyndon Johnson. His Great Society programs got the government to be much more involved in trying to improve the economic situation of individual people.
Third, you can point to George W. Bush. His expansive view of what the government can do to stop terrorism has greatly increased the scope of government.
I do not know that these men were trying to increase presidential power, but they certainly have helped to drive the increasing size of the federal government.