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Obama dismisses GOP criticism on his use of executive power

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at 8:51 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, at 10:56 a.m.

President Barack Obama said in a wide-ranging interview on CNN to air Friday that he is making an effort to use his own executive powers this year in part because he has already accomplished many major policies in his term.

"Part of it is we got a lot of that stuff done," Obama told CNN's Jake Tapper. "And so part of what's happened is that checklist that I had when I came into office, we have passed a lot of that and we're implementing a lot of it."

He cited the implementation of he new health care law and changes to the student loan programs.

Obama said his expectations for what he can accomplish are not dimished, though he acknowledges that House Republicans have made things difficult.

"In no way are my expectations diminished, or my ambitions diminished, but what is obviously true is we've got divided government right now," he said. "The House Republicans, in particular, have had difficulty rallying around any agenda, much less mine. And in that kind of environment, what I don't want is the American people to think that the only way for us to make big change is through legislation. We've all got to work together to continue to provide opportunity for the next generation."

Obama dismissed Republican criticism of his executive actions, including from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who called his the imperial presidency.

"The truth of the matter is, is that every president engages in executive actions," he said. "In fact, we've been very disciplined and sparing in terms of the executive actions that we have taken. We make sure that we're doing it within the authority that we have under statute...I think it's a tough argument for the other side to make that not only are they willing to do not do anything, but they also want me not to do anything."

But, he said, he's hopeful that the White House and Congress could agree on some issues, including a rewrite of the nation's immigration laws. He said he wants the final bill -- if there is one -- to include a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, but he will not pre-judge the House proposal.

"I genuinely believe that Speaker Boehner and a number of House Republicans, folks like Paul Ryan, really do want to get a serious immigration reform bill done," he said.

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