New Proposal: 15 Executive Actions to Overcome Government Dysfunction

April 15, 2014

Contact: Erik Opsal, erik.opsal@nyu.edu, 646-292-8356

New York, NY – Following the Obama administration’s vow to use strong executive action in the face of a paralyzed Congress, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released a new policy proposal today outlining 15 steps the administration can take to strengthen democracy, secure justice, and further the rule of law.

“Bold executive action can help unstick some of the very gridlock that plagues government,” said Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice and one of the report’s editors. “Taken together, these ideas would help address the quiet crisis of American democracy.”

The White House has made several executive actions to help improve America’s economy. But such policies, no matter how valuable, will achieve little if we do not fix our broken democratic systems, the Center’s report says.

The report includes a foreword by Waldman, former chief speechwriter for President Clinton, who was deeply involved in that administration’s program of executive actions and announcements, and who has written widely on the subject. He argues that the Obama administration’s use of executive action is far from unusual in recent history. “Is the president’s new strategy a euphemism for overreach? Hardly. President Obama has issued executive orders at a slower pace than all recent predecessors,” Waldman notes.

The proposals in 15 Executive Actions range from improving voting access to reforming the criminal justice system to ensuring enforcement of campaign finance regulations to safeguarding Americans’ privacy. They include:

  • Enlisting the private sector to assure free and fair elections;
  • Requesting that the Securities and Exchange Commission issue regulations requiring disclosure of corporate political spending;
  • Issuing an executive order directing federal agencies to recast their criminal justice grants into a Success-Oriented Funding model;
  • Directing the attorney general to issue new guidance banning discriminatory law enforcement techniques; and
  • Issuing an executive order applying key federal information-sharing restrictions to “suspicious activity reports” provided by state and local law enforcement.