Having seen his ambitious agenda run aground against Republican recalcitrance, Obama is pivoting to a more unilateral approach to achieve his goals. And when he must go through Congress, Obama has shown he’s willing to eschew bipartisanship when it seems like an impossibility.
If true it appears that Obama has shifted away from dealing directly with Congress when he doesn’t have to, and that’s certainly good news.
“America does not stand still, and neither will I,” Obama said in his State of the Union address last month. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Making good on that vow, Obama has signed executive orders to streamline business regulationsand raise the minimum wage for federal employees to $10.10 per hour. And this week, he called on the EPA to draft stricter fuel standards for large trucks.
The president also dropped a key compromise, one he initially supported, from the 2015 budget that would result in smaller Social Security benefits. Known as “chained CPI,” it would alter how the government calculates benefits increases for social welfare programs, and it’s passionately opposed by liberals and those collecting Social Security. Doubtless Republicans collecting Social Security are opposed to chained CPI, although most would refuse to admit it.
Certainly, Republicans aren’t completely unwilling to negotiate. They did, after all, compromise on the mini-budget deal that passed earlier this month. But that was more about averting another disastrous government shutdown, and hardly a sign of a rosy new era of legislative bipartisanship.
By and large, the GOP has been either unwilling or unable to compromise with the president. Obama, it seems, has now decided that even trying to compromise just isn’t worth his time.
Rational thinking Americans can only hope that Barack Obama will maintain his steely resolve and not return to his days of pandering to the radical Right. Those same Americans can also hope that the president will start doing the things he needs to do to protect our fragile environment and threatened creatures.