Tags: Barack Obama | Immigration | executive actions | Obama | minimum wage

Obama's 60 Executive Actions in 2014 Won't Kick In for Years

By    |   Wednesday, 08 October 2014 08:33 AM

President Barack Obama has penned or planned more than 60 executive actions this year, but they're proving widely ineffective and some will take years to fully implement, according to a Politico analysis.

Most of the initiatives Obama has announced since January only affect a few Americans, the report says. For example, two plans for federal contractors — allowances for a minimum wage hike and protections against anti-gay discrimination — will not kick into place for all those workers until 2019.

Also, a new retirement savings plan and a new program easing student loan debts are still some time away, and pro-labor workplace reforms won't be phased until after Obama leaves office.

With Republicans controlling the House and Democrats holding a Senate majority, the legislative process has become stalled, and the White House has moved in private sessions to issue executive orders to push through the president's agenda items, ranging from immigration to tax law, according to The New York Times.

During those private sessions, the president has been meeting with lobbyists and interest groups as they present their platforms out of the public eye, the Times reported in August.

"The president has been clear that he will use all of the tools at his disposal, working with Congress where they are willing but also taking action on his own where they aren't," White House spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said then.

"As part of this process, the administration has engaged a wide range of stakeholders and has solicited input from groups and individuals representing a diverse set of views."

But Obama's initiatives have been overshadowed by several foreign events, reports Politico, such as the Islamic State's advances, the rapid spread of Ebola in West Africa, and Russia's actions against Ukraine.

Further, the president's hopes of forcing Congress to take action on his agenda items has backfired, with lawmakers ignoring his calls for action as the midterm elections approach.

He also backed away from a plan for enacting an order halting deportations of undocumented immigrants by the end of summer, putting it off until after the midterms, which has angered Latino lawmakers and activists.

But while the White House says executive actions are not a good substitute for passing laws, Obama said in January that "we are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we're providing Americans the kind of help that they need."

The executive actions have resulted in less movement than the Obama administration wanted.

For example, action on employment issues such as the minimum wage cover just federal contractors. In addition, after Obama asked Congress for a $300 billion infrastructure investment for roads and mass transit, he ended up instead creating a division within the Department of Transportation that helps state and local governments find private funding for infrastructure projects.

"He is working with what he's got, which is a pretty bad hand," Paul Light, an expert on the federal bureaucracy and a New York University professor, told Politico. "If you say it is the 'year of action,' it is really better to say it's the 'year of the best-we-can-do action.'"

Obama's executive order on the minimum wage has spurred some action away from federal workers, however. So far this year, 13 states and Washington, D.C., have raised their minimum wages, and lawmakers in other states are considering measures.

And some of Obama's planned actions are being criticized for duplicating existing programs. For example, reports Politico, student loan repayment relief already exists with the Income-Based Repayment plan, which caps payments at 15 percent of a recipient's income and forgives what debt is left after 25 years.

"It's a really disingenuous thing," Jason Delisle, director of the Federal Education Budget Project at the New America Foundation, told Politico. "The administration is acting as if borrowers don't have access to Income-Based Repayment already — that is their line — but these people already have other options, and they don't have to wait for December 2015."


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President Barack Obama has penned or planned more than 60 executive actions this year, but they're proving widely ineffective and some will take years to fully implement, according to a Politico analysis.
executive actions, Obama, minimum wage
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2014-33-08
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 08:33 AM
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