As chief executive, the president appoints the heads of the government departments. (These department heads make up the president’s cabinet.) The president also supervises the work of the government’s executive branch. This by itself is an enormous job. So the president frequently finds it hard to stay informed about everything that is happening. For that reason he or she relies on the staff of the Executive Office. This staff includes many clerks and assistants. Examples include the chief of staff and the press secretary.
With their help, the president provides leadership in many areas. One is legislation (creating laws). The president sets the lawmaking agenda for Congress. Sometimes he or she proposes new laws. And Congress debates and passes (or rejects) them. In addition, the president delivers a long speech to the nation each January. This is the State of the Union address. It outlines what is happening in the country. The speech also points out existing national problems and suggests ways of solving them. Soon afterward, the executive branch issues an economic report. It also issues a detailed budget. The budget lists the president’s programs and objectives for the near future. And it estimates what they will cost.
The president can also check, or limit, Congress’s activities. One way this is done is by trying to restrict congressional spending. The president can also meet with leading members of Congress. He or she can try to convince them to pursue or not pursue a certain policy or program. Another method the president can use to check Congress's activities is the veto. A veto is a presidential rejection of a proposed law. Some presidents have used vetoes fairly often. In 1975, President Gerald Ford vetoed 18 bills. In contrast, Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson never vetoed a single bill. The mere threat to veto can be powerful. It can sometimes allow the president to shape legislation to his liking.