If you were expecting Obama, based on his State of the Union address, to be more interested in seeking compromise and working with Congress for bipartisan goals--and let's be honest, who really was?--you're about to be sorely disappointed. The President, through his chief of staff Denis McDonough, is promising us that he won't let up on executive actions in the final year of his term. From The Hill:
“We’ll do audacious executive action throughout the course of the rest of the year, I am confident of that,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
The comments are a clear sign the president will continue his go-it-alone approach, which has angered Republicans in Congress.
They also underscore how, aside from a handful of proposals such as trade and criminal justice reform, there is little chance for Obama to work with Congress in an election year.
Looking over his final SOTU, it's obvious that Obama is especially concerned about his legacy as he enters his final year. This is his last opportunity to make a mark on the historical record. As unreliable as Republicans in Congress can be, he knows he cannot count on them for his agenda, and frankly, as we have learned over the last seven years, he's just not all that interested in using the legislative process if it presents too much of a burden to enacting his plans.
The unfortunate thing is that McDonough did not give much in the way of specifics as to what sort of executive actions the President is planning. As the article notes, the President's 2014 executive actions on immigration are held up in the courts, but I would not be surprised to see him try to do something there. He has already announced his actions on guns, of course, and it would not be surprising to see him try to do more there. More environmental and economic regulations are also things we must watch out for. Given that McDonough has also said that the President wants to “make sure the steps we have taken are ones we can lock down and not be subjected to undoing through [Congress] or otherwise," we can expect Obama to try every trick in the book to enact his agenda.
This is yet another reason why it is essential we elect a conservative Republican President this November. All of these actions can be undone in mere seconds with another stroke of a pen, but we need a President that we can trust will actually do that. In the meantime, though, we should make sure Congress and our state governments know that we expect them to remain vigilant against these actions and that we expect them to challenge the Obama administration every step of the way and in every way they can.
It is sad that Americans are living in a country that is increasingly controlled by executive fiat, but that is the direction we have been heading in for a long time. Obama has just taken this historic trend and turned it up several notches. He has done so, as we know, in order to enact policies he knows the American people and Congress will never support if he tried to do things the Constitutional way.