Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back Door Man

As the Obama's continue their workingman's holiday at Martha's Vineyard, with Michelle doing her best to the raise the bar on budgets for future First Family vacations, I've been wondering exactly what Obama & Co. have in store for us in what seems more and more likely to be his last 16 months in office.

An easy answer would be "more of the same," but since Obama has given us so much in only three years, that seems to me too vague to be useful.  I think we need to focus on the paradox that the President who was once acclaimed as The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived has actually shown himself to be both incredibly stubborn and willfully ignorant.  These are not good characteristics to see for anyone hoping the President might finally wise up and relent from his failed policies.  I think what we are going to get instead is a President doubling down on his agenda, pushing through as many executive orders and regulatory changes as he can, legal or not, while the Congress is still divided and largely unable to block or reverse his actions.

The past few weeks have given us evidence that the Obama Administration has no intention of letting public opinion, legal authority, or Congressional opposition keep it from enacting its policy agenda by executive order.

The administration announced on the 18th that it intends to forge ahead with enacting part of the Dream Act, which has been roundly defeated in Congress, by announcing that it is suspending the deportations of several hundred thousand illegal immigrants and will be granting work permits to those who don't have criminal records.  Aside from this being a clear abdication of its responsibility to enforce the law of the land, this is obviously an attempt by the administration to gain electoral support for Obama from hispanic voters, whether they are citizens or not.  With Obama's support falling rapidly with just about every electoral group you can think of, this is one of the few ways Obama might be able to gain more support, given how ineffective and unpopular so many of his policies have proven to be.

Last month the EPA rolled out its new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the main intent of which apparently is to shut down as many coal-fired power plants as possible. Obama early on declared his animus towards the coal industry and actually stated that if his policies about coal went into effect, electricity prices would necessarily go up significantly.  The President has said a lot of things that he hasn't followed up on, but he seems to be sticking to his guns here.

Given the massive unpopularity of the Dream Act and the clear harm he will be doing to his own electoral prospects in coal-mining states (e.g., Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia), I'm leaning towards concluding that the White House has decided that Obama has no chance at all of winning re-election based on his record and accomplishments.  I think that instead they're going to be campaigning on the low road, and hard.  In the meantime they'll be jamming down on enacting their agenda by fiat, on the theory that at least some of it will become entrenched enough that it will be too difficult to reverse, even if the White House and Congress do return to Republican hands after the election.

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