As this Tuesday’s State of the Union speech draws near, it’s becoming more clear what Obama’s theme will be: ‘You guys give me no choice; I’ll have to go it alone.’
Obama’s frustration with the divided Congress has been no secret in the past couple of weeks. “I’ve got a pen,” he said during a press conference earlier this month. “And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”
With a GOP House hell-bent on obstructing Obama’s agenda, many of the President’s goals have been stuck in limbo. Unless the Democrats can wrestle back control of the House this November, Obama faces the prospect of lame-duck status heading into the midterm election year.
With his legacy at stake, Obama is starting to rely more and more on the power of the presidency to push through his agenda:
“We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need.”
The confrontational tone of Obama’s rhetoric is nothing new. While the GOP has continued to put up walls as the tenure of his administration progresses, Obama has slowly abandoned the theme of unity that he hoped to achieve in the early days of his presidency.
“The President sees this as a year of action, to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary,” White House press secretary Jay Carney recently said during an interview with ABC News.
According to NBC Politics, there are three areas that Obama can use to his advantage should he decide to bypass Congress, the first in regards to appointments:
[box type=”shadow”]There are now 16 vacancies on the federal appeals courts around the country. So far Obama has sent nine nominees to the Senate for these open posts.
Thanks to the abolition of the filibuster in the case of most nominees, Democratic-appointed judges now dominate the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which handles many EPA and other regulatory cases. Obama and Bill Clinton have appointed seven of that court’s 11 active judges.[/box]
Executive order and directives:
[box type=”shadow”]An example of one Obama directive done by presidential memorandum: last June he directed the Interior Department to approve enough renewable energy capacity on federal lands to power more than 6 million homes by 2020.[/box]
And finally, regulations:
[box type=”shadow”]Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advocacy group, told reporters last month the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been developing new rules for fracking — hydraulic fracturing to increase natural gas and oil output — under federal leases for areas that “serve as major sources of drinking water for metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C. and the Denver metro area.”
The BLM may not be well known to most Americans, even though it administers 245 million acres, an area larger than New York, Florida, Minnesota and California combined. And Kornze, who is awaiting Senate confirmation, isn’t a household name. But the decisions that he and other regulators make will have enormous real-world consequences, even though the debate over these policies won’t usually be taking place on the Senate floor and certainly won’t be broadcast in primetime as will Obama’s speech Tuesday night.[/box]