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Will Trump Undo Obama’s Executive Actions In His First 100 Days?

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Will Trump Undo Obama’s Executive Actions In His First 100 Days?

Obama, Executive Orders, Trump

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

For years, progressives have wrung their hands over President Obama’s reluctance to more aggressively use executive authority to overcome congressional gridlock—even as Republicans sued and blocked his actions on immigration and climate change. But as the incoming Trump administration threatens to reverse nearly everything Obama has done, it’s worth recalling his priorities.

President Obama, notably, is not going quietly into the night. Even as Trump called this week for vetoing a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements, the White House abstained on that vote on Friday—implicitly criticizing Israel. A day earlier, the Obama administration announced it was dismantling a federal registry of Muslims visiting from “high-risk” countries that was created after the 9/11 attacks; a registry Trump would have to reinstate. Days before that, the White House banned new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and mid-Atlantic, citing a 1953 law the administration said could not be undone by Trump.

What follows are a half-dozen focal points for Obama’s executive actions.

1. Immigration. Obama’s 2014 actions suspended the deportation of young people and their parents who came to the country illegally. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program kept young people in public schools, protected recent college graduates or those who served in the military and were honorably discharged. Obama’s DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Arrivals) program shielded the undocumented parents of citizens and others with legal status. After Obama’s first term, when deportations hit a record high, these executive orders protected an estimated 4 million people. However, red-state Republicans, led by Texas, sued, and in June the U.S. Supreme Court issued a split 4-4 decision, leaving the programs blocked following a lower court ruling by a right-wing judge.

2. Reproductive Rights. Obama has stood up for reproductive rights and gender equality throughout his presidency. Soon after taking office, he reversed a George W. Bush administration ban on stem cell research that resulted from religious conservatives who opposed fetal cell science. The Affordable Care Act required employers to offer contraception in their health plans, which was challenged in court by employers seeking a religious exemption. After the Supreme Court sided with them, the administration issued a rule ensuring women could get birth control for free by requiring health insurers to cover it. Obama also ordered federal agencies to make gender equality and women’s empowerment a core foreign policy focus.

3. Carbon and Climate Change. Obama has used a mix of executive orders to push the development of non-carbon energy sources and federal regulations to force high-carbon power plants to clean up emissions or close down. On the executive order front, he has issued several orders giving new authority to Native tribes in Alaska and elsewhere to support biodiversity and control energy development on tribal lands and offshore. He has also ordered the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, factor in climate change in domestic and foreign policies, and adopt more energy-efficient technologies. Earlier this year, however, proposed rules forcing power plants to cut carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 30 percent by 2030 were rejected by the Supreme Court after 29 red states and the energy industry sued. Like the court’s immigration ruling, this was a major blow to Obama’s policies.

4. Raising Labor Standards. Obama did many things to improve pay and working conditions for federal contractors. He was unable to get Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, but raised the minimum wage for federal contract workers to that level. He instituted paid sick leave for federal contractors and required federal contractors comply with all federal labor laws, including forbidding those firms barring employees from sharing salary and benefit information. Obama also issued numerous orders to resolve labor disputes between union and passenger railways in the northeast.

5. Expanding Gun Controls. Despite congressional refusal to adopt any substantive gun control laws after a series of mass shootings at schools, theaters and other settings, Obama announced nearly two-dozen actions to combat gun violence. Those include expanding background checks, making information about mental illness available in the background check system, expanding research into the causes of gun violence and telling U.S. attorneys to expand efforts dealing with domestic violence. Obama has called Congress’s inaction on gun control the biggest disappointment of his presidency.

6. Reducing Threat of Nuclear Arms. Astoundingly, Donald Trump this week tweeted that the U.S. needs to increase its nuclear arsenal, a threat by which he would resume the Cold War arms race with Russia and China. President Obama has taken the long view with nuclear arms reduction, such as a 2012 agreement to convert 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium in Russian nuclear weapons into low-grade fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. More recently, Obama’s deal with Iran has sidelined that regional power from developing nuclear weapons, even though Republicans have voted to reverse the deal.

More a Moderate Than an Activist

Despite Republican hyperbole, President Obama has not had the most executive orders of any recent president. Most of his executive actions were focused on streamlining federal bureaucracy, management of federal agencies and sanctioning countries with repressive regimes.

In some cases, Obama ordered the government to better reflect favorable Supreme Court rulings, such as instituting policies benefiting same-sex marriages by extending the Family Leave Medical Act to eligible employees regardless of the state they live in and treating same-sex couples like married couples when it comes to filing taxes. Similarly, he implemented policies from presidential panels, such as requiring more training for local police that obtain surplus military weapons, a recommendation of his police reform commission.

But Obama has not used his position to grant amnesty or pardon all undocumented people in the country—which scholars like Noam Chomsky suggested he do before leaving office. Instead, he has been a moderate, choosing to protect roughly the same proportion of immigrants as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did when they were in office. Nonetheless, Obama’s steps will likely soon be imperiled by the incoming Trump administration and radical right-wing Republicans in Congress.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights, campaigns and elections, and many social justice issues. 

IMAGE: U.S. President Barack Obama pauses as he delivers a speech during a visit at the the Parque de la Memoria (Remembrance Park), where they honored victims of Argentina’s Dirty War on the 40th anniversary of the 1976 coup that initiated that period of military rule, in Buenos Aires, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria



  1. 挖宝网 December 26, 2016


    1. Eleanore Whitaker December 27, 2016

      Flush yourself hater moron. Your kind need to drink the Kool Aid you asshats are always preaching about. Jealous aren’t you? You …the lazy bum with nothing more to do than sit on your butt all day and overload your constipated brain with more garbage.

      We know YOUR legacy…”Here lies a right winger killed by his own venomous hate. Gone and VERY forgotten.”

      You are not worthy of Godzilla. Even that monster knew when to shut his yap.

      1. kep December 27, 2016

        Off your meds again?

        1. Eleanore Whitaker December 27, 2016

          Leftover feces for breakfast again? Get a job lazy bum. The Great White Angry Man Act is not getting it these days coochie coo.

          1. kep December 27, 2016

            I think you mean that the time for stupid liberal communist policy is over. You commie trolls should just give up. You are not going to do further damage to MY country. Go back to your Mother Russia.

          2. Eleanore Whitaker December 27, 2016

            Don’t think about what “I” mean. You stupid mentally constipated moron. You do not control me or anyone else. Kills you that you can’t make that happen doesn’t it control freak?

            I intend to make sure you and your ratbaggers do not deny me my voting rights. Go back to your DogPatch shack and play with Daisy Mae. YOu make a fool of yourself every time you post your garbage. In case you missed it, no one cares if you live or die. Least of all me.

          3. kep December 27, 2016

            Everyone knows that you are a gile, nasty troll. And extremely stupid, considering your rants and lack of knowledge and reason. As I have stated many, many times, you seriously need professional mental help. You will someday hurt some small child that wanders into your space. Most lokely you will think that small child is some evil right wing MAN, and totally freak. GET HELP.

          4. Eleanore Whitaker December 27, 2016

            Funny but no one bashes my posts. They bash yours much more than mine. So Keppers of the jerk bird brain, how about YOU stop posting your BS? Now one cares what you think. You never once post facts you substantiate. That only proves you are a stupid, moron liar.

          5. Sand_Cat December 31, 2016

            Can’t face the well-deserved scorn of an intelligent woman, either, I see. No surprise there. You really are a pathetic little – I can’t think of anything else on earth I care to insult by comparing you to it – pseudo-“conservative.”

          6. kep December 31, 2016

            An intelligent liberal is an oxymoron. And you are just a moron.

          7. A_Real_Einstein December 27, 2016

            Don’t you love watching Comrade Trump sucking Putin’s d…….

          8. A_Real_Einstein December 27, 2016

            The whole world is laughing at us. Our first gay President and he is so easily bribed. You elected an orange turd. Ha ha ha ha ha.

          9. kep December 27, 2016

            We a.ready had Bath House Barry

          10. A_Real_Einstein December 27, 2016

            But he was not a commie lover. Trump owes Putin bigly. You elected an orange turd.

          11. Sand_Cat December 31, 2016

            Homophobia and grotesque dishonesty in addition to ignorance and bigotry continue to pour from the vacuum in your head, along with projection on the grand scale. Like so many of your fellow cretins, you assume we will be offended by your idiotic attempts at insults. You have nothing that can touch anyone with intelligence and integrity; all your crude lies merely advertise your own faults. Perhaps you are yet another right-wing closet gay out to prove your “masculinity” by homophobic smears of those more honest and courageous than you’ll ever be? You only show your own weakness and insecurity. But keep it up. We love how you validate our positions with every infantile screed you post.

          12. Sand_Cat December 31, 2016

            Once again, you announce to all your ignorance and bigotry. It’s OUR country, too, and you wouldn’t know “communist” if it came up and bit you.

          13. kep December 31, 2016

            America belongs to Americans, not you liberal commies .

          14. Sand_Cat December 31, 2016

            Thanks again for showing yawning chasm of ignorance that substitutes for your mind. Keep going; nothing makes a better argument for us “liberal commies” and other sane and rational people than your continual fecal vomiting.

      2. Godzilla December 27, 2016

        EW, You can’t hold my jockstrap in a debate. You lost with the first letter in your comment and will continue so. Your a vile Communist pig. Be gone you swine, you and your ilk are not welcome in this country any more. You have abused our freedoms long enough, leave witch.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker December 27, 2016

          It figures you need a jockstrap…Does it cover your floppy ears or that wet dog nose? You lose EVERY argument because in the sane world, we don’t post that which cannot be proven. So bastard child, go find out who your daddy is or is that “daddies” With that red light on McMommy’s front door, I imagine it would be difficult to pin down the dipshit you call Daddy.

        2. itsfun December 28, 2016

          Ditto: I got so tired of her BS I blocked her, so I don’t read her crap anymore. After she told me she hoped the southern and Midwestern states suffer a attack like 9/11, I realized she is one sick sick sick person.

  2. itsfun December 27, 2016

    As Obama told the Republicans in 2008: elections have consequences get used to it.

    1. robin.dial December 27, 2016

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