White House: Move to act without Congress is ‘not confrontational’

Top White House aide Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday that President Obama isn't threatening Congress by promising to take more actions on his own in 2014.

Obama's use of "a pen and a phone" -- the pen being the use of so-called "executive actions," a.k.a. generally limited policy declarations that a president takes unilaterally -- is expected to be a major theme of his State of the Union address Tuesday. The White House has been telegraphing this strategy for weeks now, which some see as threatening Congress that, if it doesn't act, Obama will.

"I don't think it's confrontational," Pfeiffer said on CNN's "State of the Union." "Let's find some areas we can work together."

Pfeiffer said Obama "is not going to tell the American people that he's going to wait for Congress."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), appearing on the same program, said the White House's comments do indeed sound like a threat.

"It sounds vaguely like a threat, and I think it also has a certain amount of arrogance in the sense that one of the fundamental principles of our country were the checks and balances -- that it wasn't supposed to be easy to pass legislation, that you have to convince people," Paul said.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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