Dawdling Obama charts last-minute rush of mischief
Our procrastinator-in-chief is frantically trying to make up for lost time, as President Obama uses his final days in office to issue last-minute regulations and play political games at the United Nations that harm and insult one of our best allies.
From now until Inauguration Day, brace yourself for the spectacle of a relentless president building a legal and regulatory wall in a last-ditch effort to protect parts of his legacy.
Mr. Obama is making it difficult for President-elect Donald Trump to undo his actions. For example, Mr. Trump may well need to legal or congressional actions to change Mr. Obama’s recent ban on oil and gas exploration along large swaths of the country’s Atlantic and Arctic coastlines. Mr. Obama used a 1953 law called Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect the federal lands, with the express goal of making it nearly impossible for future gas or oil exploration and drilling in these areas.
As a parting gift to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, Mr. Obama issued a final rule banning states from denying federal funds to the organization. This rule will take effect two days before Mr. Trump takes office, and the new president would need to rescind the rule or lobby Congress to pass a joint resolution of disapproval.
And Mr. Obama just this week designated two national monuments in Utah and Nevada, his latest move to set aside millions of acres of land from commercial development or energy exploration — whatever the wishes of the people who live there. Mr. Obama will leave a legacy of creating and expanding more national monuments than any other president.
But Mr. Obama’s most destructive parting gift was his decision not to veto the U.N. Secretary Council resolution that in essence would call Israel’s settlements in disputed Palestinian territory as illegal. Mr. Obama wanted to send one last message to his nemesis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while joining in the international piling on against the Jewish state. By design, the U.N. resolution Washington failed to block will now be very difficult to undo. Mr. Obama went ahead with his fit of pique even though members of his own party objected to his treatment of a critical ally. Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the lame-duck president’s move, which has already resulted in Mr. Netanyahu stepping away from advancing a two-state solution.
For the first seven-plus years of his time in the White House, Mr. Obama built up a legacy of greater regulation, more executive orders, trampling on the rights of Congress, and pursuing a foreign policy based on American weakness and restraint. A recent Gallup poll may have found that Mr. Obama is America’s most admired figure, but based on recent events, voters will be relieved to know that the Obama chapter will soon be closing forever.
The Donald Trump chapter begins by promptly executing his agenda. The presidentelect should focus on revamping the federal bureaucracy, strengthening America’s standing in the world, and pushing forward a pro-growth economic agenda.
And unlike Mr. Obama who left so much for the very last minute, Mr. Trump should waste no time getting down to business. He’s already working with corporations to negotiate better deals and bring jobs back to America — a good start. He has put together a Cabinet of highly qualified, pro-business men and women who are looking for ways to change the way Washington works.
And, unlike his predecessor, Mr. Trump would do well to remember that there is no time to waste.