Yes, He Can: Twenty Ways Obama Can Use Executive Power to Push a Progressive Agenda
Stop Deporting Undocumented Parents
On January 2, the Department of Homeland Security released a rule aimed at reducing the amount of time “US citizens are separated” from family members seeking legal residency status. This is a positive development, but it does not change the fact that Obama’s staggering number of deportations—1.5 million people in his first term—has left thousands of children in foster care after their parents were deported. A study by the Applied Research Center estimates that at least 5,100 kids are in foster care in twenty-two states—a number that could rise to 15,000 by the end of Obama’s second term if deportation levels continue apace. Given the hints that Congress will take up comprehensive immigration reform, Obama should take steps to halt the deportation of parents until this comes to pass.
In his inaugural speech, the president vowed to engage with other countries so as to "lift suspicion and fear." He should reach out to forge a more sane and sensible relationship with Cuba.
Nation readers provided good ideas—and a bit of wariness—when asked how Obamas should use his presidential authority.
Tell HHS to Approve Over-the-Counter Plan B for All Women
In December 2011, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius made the unprecedented decision to overrule a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to make the “morning-after pill” available over the counter to women of all ages. The president, much to the dismay of many American women, supported the move and went so far as to invoke his two daughters in doing so. Obama should reverse this decision, which was clearly born of political calculation: studies have shown that the emergency contraception pill known as Plan B has no adverse effects on young women and girls under 17.
Reinterpret the Helms Amendment
In 2009, President Obama fulfilled a campaign pledge and repealed the global gag rule, “one of the most ludicrous and paternalistic U.S. foreign policies in history,” in the words of RH Reality Check. Yet the “last stronghold of America’s oppressive overseas reproductive health policies, the Helms Amendment, is still alive and well.” This forty-year-old law prohibits any foreign aid that might be used for abortion, regardless of the law in those countries and in spite of supposed exceptions to accommodate cases of rape, incest and risk to the woman’s life. “Even our colleagues who oppose abortion rights regularly carve out these minimal exceptions to the harsh anti-abortion bills and amendments they introduce,” twelve members of Congress wrote to Obama in December 2011. “Conforming implementation of the Helms Amendment to the actual meaning of the law should not be controversial and, in any case, would be eminently defensible.”