The White House turned to executive actions for policy, political and psychological reasons. Frustrated by a gridlocked Congress, Obama wanted to show that Republicans haven’t rendered him irrelevant. And if he did it right, voters just might reward Democrats in November for cutting through the dysfunction and the bureaucracy.
That was the hope, at least.
Overshadowed by foreign crises, the announcements rarely break through in a significant way, minimizing Obama’s ability to leverage the bite-size initiatives, often targeted at key Democratic constituencies, for broader political benefit. Congress hasn’t been shamed into doing its part, either, ignoring Obama’s calls to raise the federal minimum wage, aid the long-term unemployed and invest in infrastructure. Midterm election worries forced Obama to renege on a pledge to halt deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants by the end of the summer.
The executive actions may not even stay around for long. If the Senate flips to Republican control in November, Obama will face a majority determined to roll back his aggressive efforts to halt climate change. If Republicans win the White House in 2016, some of the more controversial actions on labor and energy would be ripe targets for dismantling.
Nobody in the West Wing prefers to do policy this way, senior administration officials said, but it’s the only play they’ve got as long as Republicans continue to block them on Capitol Hill.
The end of the first paragraph quoted above gives you the real reason there’s a problem here: the very notion that the Democrats want to be rewarded for cutting through the bureaucracy they continually champion is laughable.
Politico fulfills its lapdog role by repeating, in one way or another, that this is all the Republicans’ fault, even while (accidentally, I’m sure) getting around to the real problem: reality.
The world is a mess, and some of that has to do with this administration and its Oprah hug foreign policy. The president had to delay his illegal immigration overreach until after the election because, contrary to the story Democrats tell, the American public is against it.
Barack Obama can’t whimsically reshape the American political landscape because his whims are from the fringe of American politics, and that is the real reason he has to force them upon us through executive actions in the first place.