Supposing that President Obama were to attempt another item on his legislative agenda, a big if considering his current cellar dwelling poll numbers, it strikes me as impossible that Republicans in Congress would have any reason to deal with him. I’m looking beyond the usual Donkey/Elephant games and at the balance of power between the Executive and Legislative branches.
President Obama has decreed delays to the enforcement of portions of the Affordable Care Act despite the clear letter of the law setting the dates. He cites his enforcement discretion to essentially say that the letter of the law has to come second to his assessment of what is necessary to accomplish the intent of the law. Most everyone knows the moves are more in the spirit of ameliorating the political blowback he and congressional Democrats are experiencing now that the long foreseen realities of the law are coming into effect.
The kicker for me in all of this is that his actions are about avoiding what have proven to be the politically unfavorable aspects of his crowning achievement passed on a pure party line vote. But imagine that some Republicans had broken ranks and sold their votes in return for some compromises in the law. You know, classic politics. Say it was something like “No plans covering elective abortions shall be eligible for subsidies.” The President’s poll numbers would have dropped even faster as much of his far left base would have thrown back their heads in howls of indignation. Even safe district Democrats would feel the breath of primary challengers on their necks.
So what would a far left originating President do under such political pressure. Probably what he is doing already: exercise enforcement discretion and let the Republican backers wail and gnash their teeth at his sudden yet inevitable betrayal.
We’ve already seen that he is willing to ignore messy requirements when they are of his own making. Can anyone doubt that he wouldn’t do the same to provisions that he didn’t want in the first place?