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December 13, 2016

Why Overturning Obama's Legacy Is a Constitutional Necessity

 

It is absolutely critical that the next Congress and President Donald Trump overturn as much of President Barack Obama's legacy as possible. Not just because most of his policies were bad, but to discourage future presidents from thumbing their noses at the legislative process prescribed by the U.S. Constitution. 

There are reports that Obama is concerned that many of his legacy efforts—we can’t really say legislation because he so often bypassed that route—will be overturned by the next administration. Well, he should be concerned. 

Had he worked to gain bipartisan support for his agenda and pass legislation through Congress—as President George W. Bush did with his prescription drug benefit and education reform—Obama would have little to worry about. Bipartisan legislation, for better or worse, is almost never overturned. 

The president claims that Republicans wouldn't work with him, but it was clearly the other way around. As Politico reported in January, 2009, “President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning—but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. ‘I won,’ Obama noted matter-of-factly.” 

In essence he was saying, it's not my job to listen to you, it's your job to listen to me. 

Republicans pushed back from that attitude, and voters agreed in the 2010 and 2014 elections. And so Obama decided to take up his pen and his phone and do whatever he could to implement his agenda, even if his actions were constitutionally questionable. And when Republicans pushed back even harder, Obama sneered, “So sue me.”  Which they did, incidentally, and have been reasonably successful. 

But better yet, the voters responded, and the presidential candidate who promised to protect the Obama legacy, and even double down on it, lost. 

Our Constitution did not envision one-man rule. And the best way to ensure that no president ever takes that approach again is to repeal and remove any and all legislation and executive actions that ignored the constitutional process.


 

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