Shocker: Obama might pursue his agenda through EO, regulatory adventurism

With Barack Obama finally delivering a promised plan to Congress tonight, analysts are already wondering just how much of it will make it to his desk.  According to Roll Call, the man who accused George Bush of being a unilateralist has decided that he’ll use his power with regulatory agencies to pursue his agenda … which comes as no surprise at all to anyone paying attention for the past 32 months:

Many of Obama’s priorities have sputtered and stalled, and the president blames gridlock in Washington for the lack of progress that voters might hold over his head come next November. But the White House has signaled it is willing to use other options such as executive orders, administrative action at the agency level and a review of regulations to implement the president’s wishes without Congress on board.

In recent weeks Obama has exerted his executive authority on issues ranging from education to housing policy to the environment. …

Will the American people see the president bypassing Congress more frequently?

“It’s possible,” a top White House aide told Roll Call.

In truth, Obama has done that all along, even when enjoying wide majorities in both the House and the Senate.  The two big bills that Obama claims as successes in the 111th Congress, ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank, were written to give the widest possible rule-making latitude to bureaucrats outside of the reach of subsequent Congresses. After losing the House, it’s the only path Obama has for an agenda that was too far left even for a Congress Democrats controlled, specifically on cap-and-trade and Card Check.  Both of those efforts have transitioned to an activist EPA and NLRB, which are intent on imposing that agenda through regulatory adventurism, bypassing Congress altogether.

This is a major reason, by the way, that our economy isn’t recovering.  It’s not just that regulation has increased, or even that it seems to have increased exponentially.  The problem is that rule by decree is whimsical and entirely unpredictable.  Holders of capital need to know what the economic and investment climates will be like not just in the present, but for the next 3-5 years.  With Trojan-horse bills like ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank and the Regulators Gone Wild reality of Washington’s relationship with business, there is no way at all for capital holders to price risk — and so it’s not taken at all, which produces the stagnation we see now.

Obama’s chief obstacle to a second term is the economy.  His regulatory adventurism is making it more likely that not only will Obama fail to win a second term, but Republicans will also win substantial majorities in both chambers of Congress, which will make it very easy for the GOP to reverse almost everything Obama did over the last three years.  Obama may think that he can consolidate his gains through under-the-radar bureaucratic hubris, but that’s the easiest action to remedy once Obama gets the heave-ho.