Thu Nov 22, 2012, 12:45 PM
flpoljunkie (26,110 posts)
Timothy Noah: Eight Ways Obama Can Jam Through His Agenda Without Congress
Eight Ways Obama Can Jam Through His Agenda Without Congress
The unilateralist manifesto.
Timothy Noah November 16, 2012
THE 2012 ELECTIONS were a little bit like Groundhog Day. After spending an estimated $5.8 billion on the House, Senate, and presidential elections, America woke up on November 7 to find that the president was still Barack Obama, the Senate was still Democratic, the House retained a slightly smaller Republican majority, and prospects for bipartisan cooperation remained as slim as ever. In a post-election statement, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called on Obama “to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing ... and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office.” Translation: “We still see no reason to cooperate with you.”
One circumstance, however, has changed. With the election over, the president can now take bolder action on a host of domestic issues that don’t require cooperation—or even input—from Congress. Though some of these actions might be controversial, that concern matters less now that Obama has faced voters for the last time. What follows are eight policies that the executive branch can carry out on its own, in many cases immediately. Obama will almost certainly do some of these. Others require a bit more gumption. He should do those, too.
Cut Carbon Emissions
HURRICANE SANDY lent urgency to the Obama administration’s stated goal of grappling with climate change. While cap-and-trade legislation may have died in Congress, the administration has several powerful tools at its disposal that would limit emissions. One would be to initiate a combined rule governing power plant emissions, the most concentrated source of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. In March, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new Clean Air Act regulations for carbon emissions from future power plants. It should link those regulations with a rule governing existing plants, too.
President Obama should also consider permanently canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, a project he put on hold last January. Keystone XL would transmit Canadian oil extracted from tar sands that would release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. In addition, creation of the pipeline would require extensive removal of ancient, carbon-absorbing forest. The final product is, per unit of carbon released, “equivalent to burning coal in your automobile,” according to the NASA climate scientist James Hansen.
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