The Soho Forum Debates

Should U.S. Presidents Have Fast-Track Authority to Get Things Done?

A Soho Forum debate on expanding or restricting presidential powers.


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Do U.S. presidents need a fast-track or should their power be sharply curtailed? Stanford Political Scientist Terry Moe, says to save our democracy, 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, who's the 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, 2020, Terry Moe and Gene Healy went head-to-head on this issue in a recent virtual Soho Forum debate, moderated by Soho Forum Director, Gene Epstein. It was an Oxford-style debate, meaning the winner is the person who moves the most people in their direction.

Narrated by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music: "Still Life," by ANBR

Photos: Adam Delgiudice/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Abaca Press/Gripas Yuri/Abaca/Sipa USA/Newscom; Al Drago / Pool via CNP / SplashNews/Newscom; KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom; OCTAVIO JONES/REUTERS/NewscomSplashNews/Newscom; Sipa USA/Newscom; SplashNews/Newscom