As the nation's chief executive, the president oversees foreign policy, making treaties with foreign nations and appointing ambassadors to other nations and to the United Nations. He also appoints members of the Cabinet, as well as Supreme Court justices and federal judges.
The president, with Senate approval, appoints a Cabinet, which oversees specific facets of government. Members of the Cabinet include - but are not limited to - the vice president, the presidential chief of staff, the U.S trade representative, and the heads of all the major federal departments, such as the secretaries of state, defense, the Treasury and the attorney general, who leads the Justice Department. The president, along with his Cabinet, helps set the tone and policy for the entire executive branch and how the laws of the United States are enforced.
The president is expected to address the full Congress at least once a year to report on the State of the Union. Although the president does not have the power to enact laws, he does work with Congress to introduce new legislation and carries a great deal of power, particularly with members of his own party, to lobby for legislation he favors. If Congress should enact a law that the president opposes, he may veto the legislation before it can become law. Congress may override the presidential veto with a two-thirds majority of those in attendance in both the Senate and House of Representatives at the time the override vote is taken.
The president is authorized to make treaties with foreign nations, pending Senate approval. He also appoints ambassadors to other countries and to the United Nations, though those, too, require Senate confirmation. The president and his administration represent the interests of the United States abroad; as such, he often meets with, entertains and develops a relationship with other heads of state.
Commander in Chief
The president serves as commander in chief of the nation's armed forces. In addition to his powers over the military, the president has the authority to deploy those forces at his discretion, with congressional approval. He may also ask Congress to declare war on other nations.
Salary and Perks
Being president is not without its perks. The president earns $400,000 per year and is, traditionally, the highest-paid federal official. He has use of two presidential residences, the White House and Camp David in Maryland; has both an airplane, Air Force One, and helicopter, Marine One, at his disposal; and has a legion of staff members including a personal chef to assist him in both his professional duties and private life.
The job is certainly not without its risks. The president and his family are given round-the-clock protection by the Secret Service. Abraham Lincoln was the first U.S. president to be assassinated; James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy were also assassinated while in office. Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan all survived assassination attempts. Presidents continue to receive Secret Service protection after they retire from office.
Phaedra Trethan is a freelance writer who also works as a copy editor for the Camden Courier-Post. She formerly worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she wrote about books, religion, sports, music, films and restaurants.