Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Achievements of the Obama Administration

I know FauxNews  and the leadership of the Republican Party would have you believe that nothing at all positive has happened in the U.S. since President Obama took office. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney hopes that voters who felt great admiration for President Obama upon his election victory have felt no special moments since then. With enormous credibility issues and no concrete plan for doing anything other than making his rich friends richer, Romney is counting on a failure of Americans' short-term memory to get him into the Oval Office.

Personally, I have often felt pride in the Obama Administration's efforts and accomplishments. Serious pride. I mean, the lump-in-the-throat, tear-in-the-eye, wow-we're-really-making-a-difference sort of pride. And, while Romney can't (or simply won't) think of anything positive to say about the last four years, I have no trouble producing a list of what I view as the greatest achievements of the Obama Administration.

We may - and some of us probably will - argue about just how positive some of the things in this list are. Representatives of irresponsible oil companies, abusive lending institutions and neglectful insurance companies will certainly find plenty of reason to dislike some of the items. But even the President's detractors must admit that Barack Obama, despite an obstructionist, do-nothing Republican Congress, has been remarkably productive.

  • President Obama passed a stimulus program to get the economy started again and to begin a turnaround in the nation's unemployment problem. He has presided over 29 months - soon to be 30 months - of private sector employment growth. (The U.S. unemployment rate remains high at around 8%, but it is worth noting that the European unemployment rate has been rising and recently reached 11.3%. The jobless rate in Spain is over 25%, and the rate in Greece is at least 23%. France and Poland have 10% of their populations out of work.)
  • He initiated programs for home refinancing and loan modifications to allow about a million financially troubled Americans to keep their homes.Under his administration, home foreclosures have slowed, home sales have escalated and home prices appear to be improving.
  • He started the Cash-for-Clunkers program that not only helped revive the auto industry through hundreds of thousands of new-car sales but also removed inefficient and environment-polluting vehicles from U.S. roads.
  • He created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to guard American consumers against abusive and misleading loan and credit practices (Credit Card Bill of Rights). He backed new safeguards on the banking and investment systems in our country. (And, by the way, he did NOT bail out the banking system - that was Mr. Bush. But he did oversee the banks' repayment of 75% of the TARP program investments.)
  • He sat down with Republican opponents of healthcare reform to hammer out a compromise, worked Republican suggestions into his program, and despite continued Republican opposition got the Affordable Care Act approved by Congress and signed into law. And his administration successfully defended the act in the Supreme Court, even winning the support of the Republican-nominated Supreme Court chief justice.
  • He ended the Bush Administration's military operations in Iraq, a war that cost thousands of service men and women their lives and cost the U.S. taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars while serving no conceivable purpose whatsoever.
  • He dramatically decreased federal government spending and decreased the federal payroll while lowering federal taxes.
  • He saved the U.S. automobile industry and all the countless affiliated jobs when Republicans argued that it would be a useless waste of money and that the industry should be allowed to die.
  • He backed Wall Street reform that will prevent future taxpayer-funded bailouts of investment firms.
  • He supported legislation calling for equal pay for women.
  • He threw out Don't Ask Don't Tell, ending an unjust practice in the military.
  • He ended the torture of prisoners.
  • He provided expanded funding for Head Start and Early Learning programs in our nation's schools and for Internet access in elementary-level schools.
  • He helped to organize volunteerism on a national scale.
  • He drew the government-backed student loan program away from private banks that were doing no more than skimming from it.
  • Following the Gulf oil spill, he ordered a $20 billion escrow fund from BP, removed the cap on oil company liability for spills and created a safety review board for offshore oil drilling.
  • He supported the anti-dictatorship Arab Spring movement, which led to the fall of Libyan terror-supporter Muammar Gaddafi.
  • His administration eliminated the higher subsidies for the failed Bush administration experiment of the Medicare Advantage plans.
  • He provided tax incentives and federal dollars for renewable and clean energy options.
  • He nominated two superb Supreme Court justices, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan.
  • He dramatically increased federal efficiency standards for auto makers.
  • He halted the deportations of thousands of law-abiding children of illegal immigrants - children who entered the U.S. through no fault of their own and who know no other homeland - and permitted them to obtain work permits. He also asked Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would grant those young people a path to citizenship.
  • He refused to support in court the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, while he personally endorsed the quest for marriage of committed same-sex couples and extended marriage benefits and rights to same-sex partners of government employees.
  • He tracked down and eliminated international terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

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