Barack Obama, the anti-lame duck president

President Obama at the COP 21 climate conference in France

President Obama at the COP 21 climate conference in France

President Barack Obama this week signaled that he would have a robust final year in office as he announced executive actions on the registration of gun purchases, especially narrowing the “gun show loophole.” Obama also held a town hall meeting aired by CNN on Thursday to talk about his anti-gun violence actions. Moreover, just a week ago, President Obama appeared on an epic, hilarious episode of Jerry Seinfeld‘s web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Obama was not only very funny and relaxed, he also managed to plug his Affordable Care Act, which has covered an estimated 17.6 million more people in the past two years, causing the percentage of Americans without health insurance to drop to the lowest level ever measured. In short, President Obama is exploding the stereotype of the lame duck president.

As President Obama gets ready to deliver his final State of the Union address next Tuesday, here are some other items which Obama has had a hand in lately, or which he plans to do:

Job Creation: the latest job report predictions indicate that the U.S. economy created 292,000 jobs in December, blowing past the original estimates. This caps off a year of job creation that is the second best since 1999. Under Obama, the U.S. economy has created 14.1 million new jobs and has had the longest streak of private sector job growth (70 months so far) in history. Furthermore, unemployment is at 5.0 percent, a seven-year low.

Environment and Climate Change: The Obama administration has also taken action to improve the environment and fight climate change, including the EPA Clean Power Plan to limit greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants, and the State Department’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada. Additionally, President Obama helped lead 195 nations last month to a historic agreement on climate change at the COP 21 conference in France.

Defeating ISIS: President Obama has already ordered thousands of airstrikes on ISIS strongholds, which have reportedly killed thousands of ISIS leaders and members. At the same time, Obama has repeatedly called on the Republican-led Congress to give him an authorization to use military force against this enemy that the Republicans keep saying is a serious threat to the U.S. Obama will likely call out Congress again on this issue during his State of the Union address.

Criminal Justice Reform: President Obama and many members of Congress favor a bill to overhaul prison sentencing guidelines, for example, to reduce federal minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders and to let prisoners earn time off for good behavior.

Trans-Pacific Partnership: This is one area where progressives strongly oppose President Obama. Nevertheless, Obama appears determined to try to get the TPP, a trade and investment agreement which was negotiated by the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, ratified by Congress before he leaves office. However, Republicans are slow-walking the TPP even as their corporate sponsors are favoring it, so that Obama may have to devote even more effort to the TPP.

This list, and other recent actions, are not the deeds of a president who has somehow tired of the job and who intends merely to coast into retirement. On the contrary, given that Barack Obama faced a Republican Congress that literally planned from Day One not to cooperate with him, Obama seems on track to become one of the most consequential presidents in our lifetime.

Photo by UNFCCC, used under Creative Commons license.


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