Wow! Affirmation of same-sex marriage, re-affirmation of Obamacare and support for hard-fought trade legislation all in the same week. It appears President Barack Obama is on a roll. The stars have aligned just in time for July 4th fireworks. Could the timing have been more perfect?
On June 26, marriage equality became the law of the land. The Supreme Court affirmed that same sex individuals had the right to legally marry in every state. States intent on defying the new law can now be held in contempt of court.
“This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free,” Obama said about the ruling.
Once again, the president’s Accordable Care Act was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court, and once again on it was upheld. This week, two Supreme Court cases boosted the president’s legacy by upholding the government subsidies at the heart of Obama’s health care law.
Also this week, the president signed two free trade bills. The first, known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) clears the way for Obama to finalize negotiations with 11 other Pacific Rim governments, aiming to establish a free-trade area to compete with China, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the TPP. The second is called the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) act, and extends aid to US workers who might lose their jobs as a consequence of free-trade deals. Another trade deal in the works is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe. That law gives Congress the right to accept or reject the final agreements, but not to make any changes to them.
Talk about alignment. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)—the man who once vowed to make Obama a “one-term president”—supported the trade deals.
"It was an accomplishment for the country, an important accomplishment," McConnell told a Louisville business group. He added, "I would love to see President Obama, here in the last year and a half of his term, help us tackle the mega-issues confronting our future."
Having already paved the groundwork to repair the decades-old rift with Cuba, Obama said on Wednesday the United States and Cuba will reopen embassies in each other's capitals this month, fully restoring diplomatic relations. Full restoration is expected to occur by July 20. "This is what change looks like,” Obama said about the embassy agreement.
Perhaps what appears as luck is more a matter of the natural ebb and flow of running a country. After a seeming eternity of struggling and fighting (sometimes with members of his own party), finally the president gets a break comes, then another. From January 2014 to January 2015, the president experienced his lowest approval rating ever—averaging a little over 42 percent. Now in just one week, his rating has shot up to over 50 percent.
All of these victories spell freedom: freedom to marry who you want, the right to affordable health care, freedom against unequal trade deals and the right to compete more effectively with China, and the eventual freedom to visit and do business with Cuba.
Let freedom ring. Happy Independence Day.