Presidential Power

Is More Presidential Power Necessary in the Modern World? A Soho Forum Debate

Stanford University's Terry Moe and the Cato Institute's Gene Healy debate giving fast-track authority to U.S. presidents.

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Do U.S. presidents need fast-track authority or should their power be sharply curtailed? In order to save our democracy, says Stanford University political scientist Terry Moe, we have to make the U.S. government faster, more efficient, and more effective—and we can do that by expanding the power of the executive branch to use "fast-track" authority to approve all types of legislation. Moe, the co-author of Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy, wants Congress to have the power to approve or deny these laws through an "up or down" vote (but not to add amendments or filibuster their passage).

The Cato Institute's Gene Healy says that non-libertarians of all political persuasions suffer from a "dangerous devotion" to the "boundless nature of presidential responsibility." Healy, who's the author of The Cult of the Presidency, says that instead of giving the executive branch more legislative authority, presidential powers must be brought back to their constitutional limits.

At a Reason-sponsored Soho Forum debate held on March 17, 2021, and moderated by Soho Forum Director Gene Epstein, Terry Moe and Gene Healy went head-to-head on this issue. It was an Oxford-style debate, meaning the winner is the person who moves the most people in his direction.

Narrated by Nick Gillespie. Audio production by Ian Keyser.