In 2008 candidate Barack Obama said he wanted to transform America. This week has saw one of the largest shifts in directions of this country’s history. While many people won’t realize it initially, this country has shifted itself from a center-right stance, to a more centered position. Without question, President Obama has really taken a huge step in cementing his legacy with this week. I’m sure he is all smiles.
First there was the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal passing both houses of Congress and awaiting President Obama’s signature. While many people feel this trade deal is bad for the country in the long run (including this blogger) it will go down as a key piece of legislation from this presidency once it is signed into law and implemented. The deal affects 40% of the world’s economy, and will make a profound impact, hopefully for the better. It will be interesting to see if the president goes ahead with signing it into law before Congress passes the TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance) deal, which will provide assistance to workers who are displaced as a result of the trade bill. Senate Republicans said the TAA would be passed separately from the TPP to get the deal done quicker.
Then there was the Supreme Court decision which upheld another key provision of Obamacare. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that it is constitutionally acceptable for the government to offer subsidies to everyone in every state, including those who refused to set up their own exchanges. If the Supreme Court would have ruled against the subsidies, more than 6 million Americans could have lost their healthcare coverage, including many right here in the state of Alabama. Alabama as you know, has refused to set up a state exchange. What will be interesting to see now is if the Alabama legislature and governor finally concedes that after two Supreme Court rulings upholding the ACA, it is here to stay. If so, they would hopefully give in and expand Medicaid, which they have refused to do up to this point.
Next came the firestorm reaction to the massacre at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston. Almost overnight, a massive calling to remove the confederate flag from the Capitol building in South Carolina started spreading to other states. It will be interesting to see how this fight goes. It is probably even more interesting that 100 years after the Civil War ended, the Civil Rights Act passed Congress, ruling that blacks and whites are equal…then 150 years after the end of the Civil War, a movement to remove the confederate flag is underway.
Finally, if you haven’t heard, same sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states after the Supreme Court ruling today in Obergefell v. Hodges. Probably one of the biggest court rulings in a long time, this ensured that every American has the right to marry the person he or she loves, and that marriage will be recognized, regardless of the state they live in or travel to. This case will certainly be one that we remember through the years and one that, if you haven’t graduated high school, you’ll be learning in your American Government class. And while many people will say that this really isn’t something that President Obama can take credit for, he was the first president to ever openly call for and support marriage equality. This public support gave the movement even more momentum.
From the largest trade deal ever created to marriage equality, this week has certainly been one that President Obama can certainly be proud of. As President Obama enters the final year and a half of his presidency, it will certainly be interesting to see how he continues to try to cement his legacy. Whether it is taking action on gun control or climate change, he is certainly going to go out with a fury to ensure that the country has shifted to the center more and more.