White House: Don’t judge Obama by what Congress does

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Average Americans rightfully are frustrated with Congress, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday, but they should not decide whether President Obama’s time in office has been a success or a failure based solely on “the amount of legislation that passes” the House and Senate.

In downplaying the importance of legislation, Mr. Carney again laid the groundwork for a host of executive actions in 2014, which Mr. Obama has declared to be a “year of action” in which he’ll take a variety of steps without involving Congress.

“The president has embraced the idea in the past that he can use his authority as president and the powers available to the president to advance his agenda on behalf of the American people,” Mr. Carney told reporters.

“What we have said is he views 2014 as a year of action and he has tasked his team to come up with new ways in which we can, he can, advance that agenda. That includes legislative proposals and advances as well as ways we can move the country forward … through executive action, signing executive orders or through using the bully pulpit, the modern bully pulpit, the phone, to bring people together around an issue.”

There are several key legislative priorities backed by the White House that have either failed or stalled in Congress recently, including immigration reform, gun control, an extension to long-term unemployment benefits and others.

Looking at the legislative record, one may conclude that the administration has failed on much of its agenda, but Mr. Carney disputed that view.

“Success in Washington, of any president of any party, should not be measured alone by how many bills Congress passes,” he said.

He also pointed to examples of breakthrough, such as the recent passage of a long-term bipartisan budget deal.

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