Lame Duck Obama Seeing Power of Presidency Slip Away

Lame duck Obama presidency slipping away

How quickly power evaporates as your successor approaches.

President Barack Obama's legal defense of some key initiatives including his signature healthcare law is collapsing as courts put cases on hold until after President-elect Donald Trump, hostile to the policies, assumes office on Jan. 20. The pending conservative legal challenges could undo important elements of Obama's presidential legacy if Trump, as expected, opts not to defend the Obama policies in court or simply ditches the initiatives that are under attack.

Since Trump's election on Nov. 8, various courts have delayed action in three groups of cases that will not be resolved before Obama leaves office and blocked an administration regulation from going into effect in another. They include a challenge by House of Representatives Republicans to an important provision in the Obamacare law, and cases concerning religious objections to that law's mandate that employers provide health insurance coverage for birth control.

They also include Obama's executive action, put on hold by the Supreme Court in June, to spare from deportation millions of immigrants in the country illegally, and his administration's bid to extend overtime protections for workers.

Well, tough. Although when you stop to think about, it might well be time to shorten the transition so that the new president takes office, say, on the same day in the new year when the new Congress reconvenes. We've changed Inauguration Day once before, in 1933, from March 4 to January 20. Since then there have been significant improvements in transportation, so rather than leave the country hanging for more than two months -- and allow the defeated or outgoing White House inhabitant further time to make mischief -- why not cut down on lame-duck season?