President Obama promised that 2014 would be the year of the presidential “phone and pen.” Atypically, Obama delivered to some extent on that promise.
For Obama, 2015 will be the year in which he eschews the phone and resorts even more to the pen. His controversial executive orders on amnesty and Cuba are just the tip of that iceberg.
For years, leftist dominated federal agencies have been clamoring for an ideologically-driven regulatory assault. Believe it or not, these agencies have been restrained to some extent by the White House, which was wary, first, of the 2012 election and then, to a lesser degree, of the 2014 mid-terms.
Now, however, school is out. The regulatory assault has commenced.
December saw the Justice Department sign on to EEOC’s attempt to rewrite federal employment law to prohibit discrimination against the transgendered. I discussed this move here.
December also saw the National Labor Relations Board file complaints across the country against McDonald’s based on claims that workers at its franchises were fired or intimidated for participating in union organizing and in a national protest movement calling for higher wages. The complaint adopts the theory that McDonald’s is a “joint employer,” and thus can be held liable along with its franchisees for any unfair labor practices.
For three decades, under Republican and Democratic administrations, McDonald’s and other companies that make wide use of franchises and contract employers have been insulated from liability for the alleged unfair labor practices of franchisees under the NLRB’s definition of a joint employer. Franchisers are only deemed joint employers if they are involved in setting wages and hiring workers.
But big labor is targeting McDonald’s, and the Obama NLRB is, in effect, joining the campaign.
What’s next? I don’t know. But before long, we should expect to see the Obama administration’s final rule on “affirmatively furthering fair housing” (AFFH), also known as the left’s attempt to dictate how we shall live.
Many expected to see this final rule in 2014. However, as I wrote here, the White House decided to wait until after the election.
The reason was obvious. We’re not talking about raising the minimum wage here. We’re talking about redistributing money from the suburbs (where all those “swing voters” reside) to the cities and inner-ring suburbs, and imposing racial and income balance in every neighborhood. Team Obama understood that in an election year, this would have been political poison.
Originally, the date for promulgating the final rule was pushed back to December of this year. Now, the rule probably will issue early in 2015. So too, perhaps, with the IRS’s postponed rules attacking free speech via a redefinition of what constitutes of 501(c)(4) organization.
The good news about Obama’s regulatory assault is that, unlike with a statute, a new administration can wipe away regs with a stroke of the pen (no phone required). The bad news is that Republican administrations tend not to do so. They fear the howls of protest that will appear in the mainstream media.
Maybe, because Obama has gone so far, this phenomenon will not apply to his more egregious regulations. Or maybe we’ll elect an unusually fearless Republican president.
Or maybe not.
Finally, there is this silver lining. The Democratic presidential nominee (let’s assume for present purposes it will be Hillary Clinton) will have to take a position on at least some of Obama’s aggressive rules and regulations. Clinton’s present strategy is to pander to the left in order to protect her position in the Democratic primaries. Thus, she likely will support Obama’s regulatory assault.
This creates an obvious risk for Clinton. If the policies were too radical safely to unleash before the 2012 and 2014 elections, they are too radical for Clinton safely to embrace in the 2016 campaign.
Understandably, though, Obama cares more about the nature of his “legacy” than about the nature of his successor,.