One of the biggest jobs facing the new president is undoing the mess he inherited from the old one. This undertaking will be harder than it sounds, as we are witnessing now in the GOP’s Herculean struggle to find a replacement for Obamacare that will not uninsure 20 million Americans with the stroke of a pen.
But other Obama-era initiatives will be daunting to overturn not because of their complexity but because of subversive measures the outgoing president took in the hopes of salvaging some of his legacy.
Consider, for example, Barack Obama’s “investment” of some $77 billion of your money in climate-related initiatives. To make sure that his successor couldn’t easily reverse these programs, he sprinkled them across dozens of agencies. And for good measure he left no master list.
Obama sought to integrate climate programs into everything the federal government did. The goal was to get all agencies to take climate into account, and also make those programs hard to disentangle, according to former members of the administration. In some cases, the idea was to make climate programs hard for Republicans in Congress to even find.
“Much of the effort in the Obama administration was to mainstream climate change,” said Jesse Keenan, who worked on climate issues with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and now teaches at Harvard University. He said all federal agencies were required to incorporate climate-change plans into their operations.
The last time the Congressional Research Service estimated total federal spending on climate was in 2013. It concluded 18 agencies had climate-related activities, and calculated $77 billion in spending from fiscal 2008 through 2013 alone.
No one ever said the job of President of the United States is an easy one. But that doesn’t mean that one holder of that high office is entitled to engage in shenanigans to protect his selfish interests.