A year ago, President Obama was fresh from his reelection victory and filled his State of the Union message with bold plans for everything from immigration to gun control. Since then his job-approval rating has fallen from 52 percent down to just over 43 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of all polls. Obamacare, his signature legislative accomplishment, is fodder for every late-night comedian and even has Democrats worrying in public that it might be fiscally unsustainable.
It’s now clear that President Obama is politically weakened and that his dreams of a legislative home run are now merely a field of dreams. But Obama is determined to make 2014 “a year of action,” which is why under the tutelage of new presidential aide John Podesta he has decided to dramatically expand his assertions of executive power. In tonight’s State of the Union, he proclaimed: “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” He then announced a dozen new executive orders, some unremarkable and some dubious, such as his unilateral decision demanding that businesses doing work for the federal government pay a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, jacked up some 40 percent from the current rate of $7.25.