Tomorrow’s election aside, the President is deciding what to do during his last two years in office. Don’t expect this lame duck to wade quietly into the night. Facing the prospects of an unfriendly Congress, President Obama is poised to unilaterally enact policies that may have huge impacts on our economy, our society and our freedoms.
According to aides, POTUS is set to use his pen to push policies on climate change, immigration, energy, gay rights, and economic issues. We can expect an announcement from his bully pulpit soon after the election. Some speculate that he intends to overhaul policies with no input from Congress. Some believe that this will translate into de facto amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. As the Washington Times reports, the President planned an executive order on immigration but Senate Democrats persuaded him to postpone any action until after the election. Whatever your views on immigration, you should be concerned that President Obama is snatching so much authority to make decisions that will have a profound effect on our country on his own.
Then, there are big, looming environmental issues such as the Keystone Pipeline. To appease his environmental supporters, the President will likely oppose the project for the rest of his tenure, despite both support and opposition from within his own party.
Then there are foreign policy questions such as what the Administration plans to do with Iran. The president has enormous authority when it comes to foreign policy, but there are indications that he intends to give himself even more by making a treaty that somehow he can get signed without sending to Congress. And with Attorney Eric Holder’s departure, this clears room for a new attorney general who could continue the Holder tradition of flexing muscles on justice and criminal issues.
Whatever, he chooses to do, it will be from a place of having nothing to lose and that’s a dangerous place.
The New York Times reports:
As the president’s advisers map out the next two years, they have focused on three broad categories: agenda items he can advance without Congress, legislation that might emerge from a newfound spirit of compromise with Republicans, and issues that Mr. Obama can promote even without hope of passage as a way to frame the party’s core beliefs heading into 2016.
Beyond immigration, aides said, Mr. Obama is determined to use his power to push for more environmental rules to curb climate change, and they said new Democratic governors could give the president a chance to expand the reach of his health care program in states where Republican governors had resisted. But Mr. Obama has to weigh the consequences of provoking Republicans by using his power to bypass them if he wants to find compromises, too.
White House officials see potential for legislation on cybersecurity, energy, sentencing guidelines and surveillance. But the three areas most cited are trade, corporate taxes and infrastructure. Democrats like Mr. Reid have resisted giving Mr. Obama trade negotiating authority, so a Republican Senate may be better for the president on this issue.
And yet, there are deep disagreements even in these areas. Mr. Obama, for instance, wants to rewrite the corporate tax code to bring down rates while closing loopholes. Republicans want a broader overhaul, including personal income taxes, since small businesses pay taxes that way.
Still, Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, expressed optimism. “I’m sure there are going to be other partisan fights, particularly if the president continues to overreach administratively,” he said. “That will create some friction. But those three issues are ripe for bipartisanship.”
The outcome of tomorrow’s election will be important only in so far as both Congress and the President choose to work together to advance policies that actually help Americans.
Humility and bipartisanship on both sides will be critical in the next two years—otherwise, Americans will continue to distrust both parties.
Let’s hope that the President will not rule by pen and, if tomorrow’s voting goes against his party, will read from the results that Americans aren’t interested in his pursuing his own policy agenda without bothering to talk to those who think differently.