The conventional wisdom in Washington, DC is that President Obama has 180 days to move his agenda before the 2014 mid-term elections begin to freeze the public policy process. That means if we don’t see action on climate issues right now, we never will.
The Constitution establishes each presidential term at four years, not six months. Nowhere did the Founders write that when the congressional election cycle begins, the President must shift gears from the world’s most powerful leader to a mere custodian of the federal bureaucracy.
Besides, these days, members of Congress and political parties are in election mode 100 percent of the time. And with a few exceptions, Republicans in Congress were not, and still are not, inclined to act on the President’s agenda.
That won’t change as the 180 day deadline ticks closer.
The fact is, conventional belief about a 12.5 percent presidential term is contradicted by another piece of Washington wisdom: If anything is to get done on big issues such as global climate disruption, the President will have to do it himself with his executive authorities.
That conventional wisdom is correct. A fictional deadline won’t get Congress moving on climate action.
Four more years is precious little time for the Obama Administration to address the big and persistent issues on which we’ve reached the 11th hour, including America’s transition to clean energy and away from climate disruption. President Obama will need every day of his second term to tackle issues like those, and the conventional wisdom should expect no less.
-– William Becker is executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project.