The president has had a very leisurely vacation in Hawaii, with lots of time for golf and relaxing on the beach with his family. It’s a pace that’s expected to change dramatically when he returns to Washington and confronts the new Republican Congress, reports CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.
The White House has often said the president uses his vacations to recharge his batteries. And he plans to use every bit of that stored energy in 2015, according to CBS News presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.
“Barrack Obama is an executive power president, free from the straight jacket of a midterm election, ready to make the most out of his last two years in office,” Brinkley said.
The president said he wants to work with the new Republican Congress on big issues like taxes, trade and infrastructure, but Brinkley said the president’s executive actions in the last few months on immigration, Cuba and climate change, for example, suggest that cooperating with Congress is unlikely.
“He’s starting to learn that he can be like FDR and Theodore Roosevelt, don’t worry about Congress just lay down these executive orders,” Brinkley said.
Republican leaders have said they plan to pass legislation the president opposes and dare him to use the veto. In six years the president has vetoed only two bills, far fewer than any other president in modern history.
But in a press conference before departing for Hawaii he strongly suggested that could change.
“If Republicans seek to take health care away from people who just got it, they will meet stiff resistance from me. If they try to water down consumer protections that we put in place in the aftermath of the financial crisis, I will say, no,” Obama said.
Brinkley said the president’s biggest worry this year isn’t the Republican Congress; it’s the Supreme Court, which is considering a key provision of the president’s health care reform law. If the court rules against the White House it could gut the centerpiece of the Obama legacy, and of course the president doesn’t get to veto decisions by the Supreme Court.