Obama outlines his game plan

If President Barack Obama does not get what he wants from Congress this year, he will take the desired action on his own, White House aides have warned.

So, what else is new?

“The president sees this as a year of action to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters not long ago. Other advisers to the president said that means action by executive order, not legislation from Congress.

That is not a fresh approach by this president, however. During much of his five years in office, Obama has taken it upon himself to issue wide-ranging executive orders on matters that properly should have been left to Congress. He has made executive branch entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency virtually unfettered tools to do his will, whether lawmakers agree or not.

His signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, in many ways does not resemble the law approved by Congress. In implementation, it has been altered over and over again by the president.

Obama used his State of the Union Speech to outline his priorities for the coming year, leaving it up to lawmakers to speculate about which initiatives he will deign to allow them to review.

Some of what the president proposed will be popular among liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill. That is because many of them face uphill battles for re-election – because of what Obama already has done. Now, through proposals such as increasing the minimum wage, Obama feels it necessary to help them attract votes from their historic base.

How this plays out as this election year unfolds remains to be seen.