Obama's policy legacy lies in tatters

The president's supporters have little recourse left but to shout in the streets

One attempting to analyze this election might be tempted to underestimate the significance of it. That person would err. This election holds broad and lasting implications for Obama's legacy and the future of America.

I will outline briefly below the profound and lasting nature of the 2016 election. I will lay out Obama's most significant accomplishments and outline the prospects of those achievements lasting beyond Trump's first one hundred days.


Obama Achievement

Fate of that Achievement

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (Obamacare) - Obama's signature achievement was the passage of what was considered universal healthcare, although it actually left millions without insurance.




Virtually all of Obamacare is certain to fade into history. Because the funding provisions were passed through reconciliation requiring only a simple majority in the Senate, the GOP can starve the law if they can't perform a full repeal. But considering that the law is unpopular and the Democrats are defending over twenty US Senate seats in 2018, they may be able to fully repeal the law. But either way, the law will die.

SUPREME COURT LEGACY - When Obama took office conservatives held the majority on the Court by five seats to four, although Kennedy is not conservative on some issues. When Scalia died the conservative majority disappeared for the first time since 1971. Obama held two seats for liberals by appointing Sotomayor to replace David Souter and Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens.



Obama never achieved a majority in the Court. Trump will appoint Scalia's replacement and reclaim the conservative majority, likely before officially taking office. That appointee faces very good prospects for confirmation. The fact that it is Scalia's replacement will give some Democrats cover for not filibustering a conservative appointment. Beyond that, the Democrats are already likely to lose Senate seats in 2018 and a prolonged battle would likely make that a certainty considering Democrat voters' propensity to skip midterm elections.

WALL STREET REFORM - Obama passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. The bill increased capital requirements for banks, requires living wills for large banks to avoid destructive bankruptcies, limits banks' abilities to use customer money in trading and creates a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau intended to limit abusive lending practices.





Trump seems likely to appoint Jeb Hensarling, or at least Hensarling will impact the legislation that reforms Dodd-Frank, and he wants to deregulate the industry and "put the market in charge." Hensarling would rely primarily on the increased capital requirements of Dodd-Frank, and probably increase them, to provide stability to the economy. Regulations would then be reduced, thereby allowing the mass of small community banks to lend more freely, aiding in the creation of small business jobs. It seems virtually certain that Dodd-Frank will be stripped. Again, the Democrats in the Senate will be gun-shy here, easily accused of depriving Trump of the means to improve the economy, an issue the public trusts Trump on.

EXECUTIVE ORDERS - Many of Obama's accomplishments came through executive orders. Some of the most significant are listed here.

Climate Change - EPA regulations, Clean Power Plan, The Paris Agreement

Immigration - Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program

National Security - Obama tightened rules around interrogations and Iran sanctions

Trade - There were orders in support of continuing/ starting NAFTA and the TPP

Obamacare - There were orders that support Obamacare

Gender Identity - Obama signed "guidance" for the implementation of Title IX equating gender identity with biological sex. Some schools have been punished by the DOJ and Dept. of Education for insisting on separate bathrooms, locker rooms and showers for boys and girls

Executive Amnesty - Obama exempted some aliens from deportation. Although a court has limited this, Trump will need to rescind it.

Life and Religious Liberty - Obama has increased taxpayer funding of abortions and mandated the insurance coverage of abortion inducing drugs, contraception and gender reassignment surgeries and therapies.

These executive orders, and likely a good number of others, probably won't last through Trump's first week.










FOREIGN POLICY: Obama has promoted a policy of a relatively weak American role in the world. ISIS formed under his tenure largely out of a desire on the part of Obama to draw an end to our involvement in Iraq. This withdrawal of our forces resulted in a vacuum of power that ISIS promptly filled. Obama has also taken a position that America should not take a leadership role in the world on any of the major issues facing the world, but should stand in solidarity with allies on all issues whether the international consensus is damaging to America's interests or not. This is true on economic issues, refugees, environmental issues and the approach to interrogating and imprisonment of terrorists.

Obama's foreign policy approach will not survive past January 20, 2017. Trump has committed to destroying ISIS. He will not delve into specifics but makes clear that he will do what it takes to get the job done, including working with Russia and taking military actions that might result in civilian casualties if ISIS continues to shield its military assets with civilians. Trump takes an America first approach to most international issues. This is true economically, environmentally, with respect to refugees and how terrorists will be dealt with. In each case, America's best interests come before any other consideration. This stands in direct contrast to Obama's approach.

TAX RATES: The corporate tax rate under Obama is the highest in the world at 39.1%. This is a combination of the 35% federal tax rate plus the average state rate. Obama created seven tax brackets at the following percentages/income level for married couples filing jointly 10/18k, 15/74k, 25/149k, 28/227k, 33/405k, 35/407k, 39.6/above 407k.

Trump wants to lower the corporate tax rate to 15%. He assumes that this will bring $4 trillion back to the US from overseas. There is no way of knowing for sure just how much capital will return, but much of it will. Trump proposes to lower the income tax rates to 12/75k, 25/225k and 33/above 225k.


2020 CENSUS: Obama surely hoped to hand the baton off to a Democrat successor so that the Census Bureau would make assumptions and take approaches beneficial to the Democratic Party when conducting the 2020 Census.

Trump's election prevents the Democrats from taking this opportunity to impact reapportionment and potentially place more seats in locations more favorable to their electoral prospects.

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Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 -First two images were modified and merged


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