By Phil Gramm
His progressive legacy won’t last because he passed vague laws and abused his executive power to impose policies that are unpopular.
How did Barack Obama join Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan to become one of the three most transformative presidents in the past century? He was greatly aided by the financial crisis that erupted during the 2008 campaign. This gave the new president a mandate and a large Democratic congressional majority that fully embraced his progressive agenda.
Having learned from previous progressive failures, President Obama embarked on a strategy of minimizing controversial details that could doom his legislative efforts. But no factor was more decisive than his unshakable determination not to let Congress, the courts, the Constitution or a failed presidency—as America has traditionally defined it—stand in his way.
Americans have always found progressivism appealing in the abstract, but they have revolted when they saw the details.
The Obama transformation was achieved by laws granting unparalleled discretionary power to the executive branch—but where the law gave no discretion Mr. Obama refused to abide by the law. Whether the law mandated action, such as income verification for ObamaCare, or inaction, such as immigration reform without congressional support, Mr. Obama willfully overrode the law.
The means by which Mr. Obama wrought his transformation imperil its ability to stand the test of time. All of his executive orders can be overturned by a new president. ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank can be largely circumvented using exactly the same discretionary powers Mr. Obama used to implement them in the first place. (my emphasis)