Accompanying the report is a New York Times op-ed titled "One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions" -- and here's where all this touches on the 2016 presidential race.
In the Times op-ed,
WHILE presidential candidates from both parties feverishly pitch their legislative agendas, voters should also consider what presidents can do without Congress. Agency rules, executive actions and decisions about how vigorously to enforce certain laws will have an impact on every American, without a single new bill introduced in Congress.With these passages, Warren steps into a debate Democrats and liberals have been having for some time. Isn't Hillary Clinton more realistic than Bernie Sanders about what a Democratic president could accomplish over the next four years? What chance is there for the Sanders agenda if there's a GOP House and quite possibly a GOP Senate? And if Sanders can't get any of his wish list through Congress, what's the point of nominating him? As Jonathan Chait recently wrote,
... the [Obama] administration’s record on enforcement falls short....
Presidents don’t control most day-to-day enforcement decisions, but they do nominate the heads of all the agencies, and these choices make all the difference....
The lesson is clear: Personnel is policy.
Legislative agendas matter, but voters should also ask which presidential candidates they trust with the extraordinary power to choose who will fight on the front lines to enforce the laws.
Those areas in which a Democratic Executive branch has no power are those in which Sanders demands aggressive action, and the areas in which the Executive branch still has power now are precisely those in which Sanders has the least to say.
Warren is clearly saying: This, at the very least, is the point of nominating Sanders. This is a power he'll have.
Warren also semi-endorsed Sanders in a speech on the Senate floor last week, as Salon's Sean Illing has noted:
On Thursday, [January 21,] the sixth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Warren gave a speech on the Senate floor....And now she's semi-endorsing again. She might as well make it official soon.
While it’s not explicit, it’s impossible to miss the thematic overlap between Warren’s message and Sanders campaign....
“...“We are headed into another presidential election and I speak out today because I’m genuinely alarmed for our democracy…It is time to fight back against a complete capture of our government by the rich and powerful.”The most revealing part of the speech was the end. Warren came as close as she has -- or perhaps will -- come to officially endorsing Sanders. “A new presidential election is upon us,” Warren said, “The first votes will be cast in Iowa in just eleven days. Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who want to run the country like some private club.”
In comments, Yastreblyansky says:
Huh--if memory serves, presidents have to get their nominees to important posts through Congress before they can serve, and Warren became famous when Obama was unable to put her in the position he wanted her in. Is Warren telling us Sanders can do better than Clinton (or Obama) at that?Good point.