Basking in the glow of two momentous liberal victories coming from the Supreme Court, one of which saved his healthcare law from the scrap heap of history, President Obama is ready to flex his muscles for the next 18 months. “I might see if we can make next week even better,” he said Tuesday.
Critics of the Obama administration have long warned that this is a president who may be more dangerous than ever during his “lame duck” last days. Free from the political restrictions of winning another election, confident in his ability to bend the law to his agenda, and buoyed by his influence over the Supreme Court, Obama is a president unshackled. Making things worse, he is opposed by one of the weakest Republican Congresses in history. If Obama is bound and determined to get something through in the next year and a half, there may be nothing to stop him.
First on the agenda? “The list is long,” Obama said at a press conference. “My instructions to my team and my instructions to myself have always been that we are going to squeeze every last ounce of progress that we can make … as long as I have the privilege of holding this office.”
With not a moment to waste, Obama unveiled a plan to expand overtime eligibility for U.S. workers. This week, he also made a push for Congress to renew the U.S. Export-Import Bank charter, campaigned for an Affordable Care Act program expansion in Tennessee, and turned his eyes to infrastructure and black incarceration rates.
“We’ve seen some really interesting leadership from some unlikely Republican legislators, very sincerely concerned about making progress there,” Obama said. In other words, Republicans have finally stopped even pretending to block the president’s liberal agenda, instead embracing it from the start. Well, that’s progress of a kind, anyway.
Not everyone is celebrating this week, of course. Contrary to what 99 percent of the media will acknowledge, not everyone loves the idea of same-sex marriage. Not everyone believes that you can simply redefine an idea we’ve had in human culture since the beginning of recorded history. And not everyone is psyched about a liberal president who seems poised to go out in a blaze of glory.
Over the next 18 months, the focus will shift from the White House as it stands today and onto the White House of January, 2016. And in that time, when the interest of the nation is on the race, Obama is going to make his final run for the end zone. It won’t be pretty. Then again, it hasn’t been for a long time.