Since Trump was announced the President-elect, Obama has been doing everything he can to give Trump the middle finger. He has appointed 56 people to boards, commissions and offices, reduced the prison sentences of 79 federal inmates, and handed out the nation’s highest civilian honor to 21 people. But that’s not all he wants to do.
By Anita Kumar
He has churned out rules, regulations and policies several times a week.
Obama is trying to put the people and policies in place that he wants to outlast his presidency in the final weeks before Donald Trump takes over. And his supporters want more, way more.
Every president tries to push through last-minute policies before their time in office comes to a close. But this year has a more frantic feel as special interest groups push Obama to do more, not just because the president-elect is of a different party but because few people know what he will do.
“People are, as you can imagine, they are getting quite desperate,” said Rena Steinzor, a member of the Center for Progressive Reform, a liberal advocacy group, who is pressing Obama to act. “Filling boards and doing whatever he can to establish protections that Trump would have to unwind is a good strategy.”
With six weeks remaining, their to-do list for Obama is long:
They want him to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political donations. They want him to pardon immigrants in the country illegally and direct federal employees to quickly process applications for immigrants who came into the United States illegally as children. And they want him to make good on his campaign pledge to close the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay.
No one disputes that Obama has the authority to do what he is doing, but Trump supporters don’t think he should be doing them anyway.
“There’s a few weeks left. The voters have spoken,” said Diane Katz, a senior research fellow in regulatory policy at the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation. “Someone who is more humble or respectful might say they made a choice a different than me and allow the new administration to do it.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest pushed back on that notion, saying Obama is president until Jan. 20 and that the administration is engaged in “a continuous and persistent effort to complete the work that’s already been started.”
Sure he can change Obama’s executive actions with a quick stroke of the pen. But rule changes require justification following a Reagan-era court case mandating that regulation changes aren’t done on a whim. Many of the appointments could outlast Obama and Trump because the terms are five to seven years and require Senate confirmation.