Pres­i­dent’s agenda now on the line

Trump win puts Obama legacy in peril

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Christi Par­sons, Michael A. Me­moli

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama bet his pres­i­dency on ex­ec­u­tive power, act­ing with­out Con­gress to im­ple­ment his agenda with the un­der­stand­ing that his legacy rested largely on whether his suc­ces­sor kept his ma­neu­vers in­tact.

Then Don­ald Trump was elected on a prom­ise to dis­man­tle what Obama had built.

Sud­denly, the pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture ac­com­plish­ments are in peril on cli­mate change, im­mi­gra­tion and for­eign pol­icy. His chief leg­isla­tive tri­umph, the health care re­form law known as Oba­macare, is one that Repub­li­cans in Con­gress are ea­ger to re­peal and Trump has promised to re­place.

“We’re go­ing to fix health care, make it more af­ford­able and bet­ter,” Trump said Thurs­day af­ter his first meet­ing with Repub­li­can lead­ers in Con­gress. “... We’re go­ing to do a real job for the pub­lic.”

Obama is scram­bling to sal­vage his agenda with lit­tle more than a pub­lic re­la­tions strat­egy to help him. Aides are pre­par­ing a cam­paign to re­mind the pub­lic of what’s at stake if his reg­u­la­tions, ex­ec­u­tive or­ders and ne­go­ti­ated agree­ments are rolled back.

Not only did Trump’s vic­tory jeop­ar­dize Obama’s chief ac­com­plish­ments, it also likely ended the pres­i­dent’s ad­mit­tedly weak op­por­tu­nity to com­plete his pres­i­dency with a flurry of last-minute vic­to­ries dur­ing a lame-duck ses­sion of Con­gress. Aides had hoped that if Hil­lary Clin­ton won the pres­i­den­tial race and Democrats made gains in Con­gress, the out­go­ing Repub­li­can ma­jori­ties might agree to deals with Obama on trade, crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form and per­haps even his Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion eight months ago of Mer­rick Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump meets Thurs­day with Pres­i­dent Obama in the White House. Gar­land, which Repub­li­cans have re­fused to con­sider.

In­stead, as Repub­li­cans pre­pare to take con­trol of the ex­ec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive branches, Obama is plan­ning a farewell tour of the coun­try, aides say, to send a mes­sage of unity but also to re­mind Amer­i­cans of what they stand to lose if Repub­li­cans peel back his ac­tions.

OnOba­macare, 20 mil­lion peo­ple stand to lose health care cov­er­age if the law were re­pealed. Obama’s strat­egy is to re­mind those con­sumers about what they stand to lose, press­ing Repub­li­cans to come up with a re­place- ment.

“A lot of his sig­na­ture pro­grams are go­ing to get gut­ted,” pre­dicted pres­i­den­tial his­to­rian Dou­glas Brink­ley. “But this idea that Obama’s sud­denly los­ing his legacy is pre­ma­ture. He may lose the Af­ford­able Care Act, which is a ma­jor part of his legacy. But the amount of things he’s been able to do over eight years will be looked upon well in his­tory.”

Obama aides hope to take ad­van­tage of di­vides within the GOP about the best path for­ward, and Demo­cratic al­lies in Con­gress are plot­ting how to fend off Repub­li­can ef­forts to undo Obama’s key ac­com­plish­ments and to work with Trump on is­sues where there is some agree­ment.

House Mi­nor­ity Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for in­stance, has cited a “ro­bust in­fra­struc­ture jobs bill” and child care and paid fam­ily leave is­sues as ar­eas of po­ten­tial co­op­er­a­tion.

Nul­li­fy­ing other key Obama ac­com­plish­ments might not be as easy as Trump made it sound on the cam­paign trail. For ex­am­ple, the nu­clear deal with Iran, which Trump as­sailed as a sign that Obama is a weak

JIM WAT­SON/GETTY-AFP

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