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Robert Reich: 7 things Obama should do before handing over the White House keys

This originally appeared on Robert Reich’s blog.

President-elect Donald Trump is accusing President Obama of putting up “roadblocks” to a smooth transition.

In reality, I think President Obama has been too cooperative with Trump.

In the waning days of his administration, I’d recommend Obama take the following last stands.

1. Name Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the president power to fill any vacancy during the recess of the Senate. The Supreme Court is no exception: Justice William Brennan began his Court tenure with a recess appointment in 1956. Any appointments made this way expire at the end of the next Senate session. So if Obama appointed Garland on Jan. 3, the appointment would last until Dec. 2017, the end of the first session of the 115th Congress.

2. Use his pardoning authority to forgive “Dreamers. With a flick of his pen, Obama could forgive the past and future civil immigration offenses of the nearly 750,000 young people granted legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Without an immigration offense on their records, they could more easily apply for legal status.

3. Impose economic sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election — including blocking all loans or investments by Russian nationals in all real estate ventures in the United States.

4. Protect the civil service from the Trump transition. Instruct all cabinet departments and agencies not to respond to any Trump transition team inquiry that might intimidate any individual members of the civil service.

5. Issue an executive order protecting the independence of all government fact-finding agencies. Included would be the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Energy Information. (Trump could repeal the order, but that would be politically costly.)

6. Issue an executive order protecting the independence of all Inspectors General in every cabinet department and agency. (Ditto.)

7. Issue a report on possible tax and benefit cuts, showing which state’s citizens will most benefit from tax cuts going to the richest Americans and largest corporations (overwhelmingly the citizens of blue states), and which will lose the most from cuts in Medicaid and repeal of Obamacare (overwhelmingly red states), along with estimates of such gains.

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His new movie “Inequality for All” is in Theaters. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

Robert Reich.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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