Thursday, June 25, 2015

Obama Has a Good Week

He has.


WASHINGTON — Twin victories for President Barack Obama this week on health care and trade cement a cornerstone of his legacy and give a rare jolt to a second-term White House that has struggled to advance its agenda.

The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold a key provision of Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act, coupled with Congress voting Wednesday to give him broad authority to negotiate new trade deals, go to the heart of his presidency.

“This is actually gigantic,” said Anita Dunn, one of Mr. Obama’s former top advisers. “They’ve had a very good week.”

Mr. Obama on Thursday also won a surprise favorable ruling from the high court allowing minorities to continue using a civil-rights era statute in housing discrimination lawsuits.

A Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage as early as Friday could also prove favorable for Mr. Obama. He has since 2012 voiced his support for gay marriage. The court, potentially, could find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, in essence legalizing the practice nationwide.

But this week also could mark a turning point in Mr. Obama’s presidency, as he now faces the remaining 18 months in office with few, if any, additional big wins on the horizon.

The president’s next major agenda item—the conclusion of diplomatic talks with Iran—is unlikely to yield such a clear-cut victory. If Mr. Obama secures a final deal with Iran to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions, a firestorm of complaint and scrutiny from Congress and certain U.S. allies will follow.

The White House also faces a series of battles with the Republican-led Congress on fiscal issues, including highway funding, infrastructure spending and taxes. Republicans, meanwhile, vowed to continue to challenge the Affordable Care Act, even though Mr. Obama said Thursday’s Supreme Court decision ensures that the law “is here to stay.”

“The politicians who forced Obamacare on the American people now have a choice: Crow about Obamacare’s latest wobble toward the edge, or work with us to address the continuing negative impact of a 2,000-page law that continues to make life miserable for too many of the same people it purported to help,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said in a statement.

Mr. Obama, in remarks Thursday in the Rose Garden at the White House, said that the law is working but also that he was open to consulting with lawmakers to improve health care...