Fulfilling a campaign promise, earlier this week Donald Trump officially withdrew the United States from the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran, calling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” For critics of the deal who recognized its flaws and did not turn a blind eye to evidence Iran was violating the terms of the agreement, this was welcome news a long time coming. Trump fulfilled his promise, and the days of kowtowing to terror-sponsoring regimes are behind us.
Naturally, Obama administration alums are throwing hissy fits. Obama himself released a statement calling the decision “a serious mistake.” Apparently, the man who gave billions of dollars and a pathway to creating nuclear weapons to the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism thinks he has any credibility on the issue. Of course, Obama, the self-proclaimed former constitutional law professor, should have known that Senate ratification is required for his deal to be legally binding. For all intents and purposes, Obama’s Iran deal was written in pencil, and Trump took his eraser to it.
Just like that, Obama’s “major” foreign policy achievement became yet another example of just how foolish Obama’s “I have a pen and a phone” approach to governing was for someone who wanted to establish a long-term legacy.
Below are the top four unilaterally implemented Obama policies Trump has successfully reversed:
1. The Trans-Pacific Partnership
It may have been Obama’s signature trade deal, but Trump was not “down with TPP” and he often referred to it as a bad deal while on the campaign trail. Trump made good on his promise to end it just days after taking office. The move was no surprise, and the fact that Obama didn’t go to Congress to approve the deal made it an obvious choice for President Trump’s chopping block.
2. Planned Parenthood Protections
In January, the Department of Health and Human Services rescinded Obama-era “legal guidance” that would have punished states for defunding Planned Parenthood, the nation’s number one abortion provider and big money donor to Democrats. The regulations “warned states that ending Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood or other health-care providers that offer abortions could be against federal law.” Of course, for many pro-life conservatives, while this was a welcome reversion of an Obama regulation, the subsequent omnibus bill that fully funded Planned Parenthood was not so welcome.
Perhaps one of Trump’s more brilliant moves in undoing Obama’s legacy was how he handled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Aside from being pseudo-amnesty, one of the primary objections to DACA was that Congress, not the president unilaterally, is supposed to make decisions regarding issues of immigration. In place for five years at the time Trump ended it, nearly 800,000 people were protected from being deported under DACA, and reversing it was no simple issue. So Trump put the onus on Congress to work out a permanent solution. Trump said of his decision: “We will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful Democratic process — while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve.”
Obama may not have understood how our constitutional republic works, but Trump clearly does. Currently, Republicans are trying to force a vote on DACA in Congress.
4. The Paris Climate Accord
Once again, this was another multinational treaty that Obama knew he couldn’t sell to Congress, so he didn’t even try. It has been just under a year since President Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris climate accord. So far, no climate apocalypse has occurred. Sea levels haven’t eaten up our coastlines and the air is still breathable. We’ve survived.
It is true that Trump has signaled that rejoining the treaty is still a possibility, but if he punts that to the Senate (where it should be), it will never happen.
Keep in mind, this list is by no means complete. Trump has reversed or weakened many Obama-era policies that were enacted without the consent of Congress. Earlier this year, Obama’s Vice President Joe Biden lamented: “All he seems to be trying to do is undo everything that President Obama has done.”
Yeah, that is why he won. But Obama was the one who chose to take an unconstitutional unilateral approach to governing. Obama took office with comfortable majorities in the House and Senate. Bipartisan compromise was unnecessary, and was never sought. When Democrats lost their majorities, Obama never felt the need to meet Republicans in the middle to achieve consensus the way his predecessors had. Obama was counting on Hillary Clinton to win the presidency and keep his unconstitutionally enacted agenda in place.