Has Obama Fulfilled Campaign Promises?
Personally speaking, I am proud of what President Barack Obama has done for the United States over the past two year. That being said, I am still upset with the 9.6% national unemployment rate and the too few job openings that are currently available. But I am also realistic. There were - and continue to be - many financial problems happening in the United States and around the globe when President Obama took office. To expect that in a mere two years the economy would be healhty again does not seem possible.
The public focuses too much on the economy being an indicator of Obama’s presidential effectiveness. Not only has he taken steps to revive the economy, but dealing with a complex fiscal crisis the public will not see drastic changes quickly. Getting every politician in Congress to agree on a piece of legislation is not only difficult, it is virtually impossible. We simply cannot compare the problems of today to have the way previous presidents have handled them in the past.
I have compiled a list of our president’s top accomplishments in various areas over the past two years, though this list is not in chronological order or of importance.
Obama’s Top 5 Accomplishments
1) Health Care
- Reform – The President trying to give you the right to health care does not mean he is a Nazi. Instead, this landmark bill gave healthcare access to 48 million people and tax credits to 29 million people to help pay for it. In addition, health insurers can no longer discriminate against those with pre-existing condition, which means 5.6 million people will no longer be denied health care insurance as a result. Moreover, 500,000 families will be saved from bankruptcy due to medical expenses, and 3.5 million small businesses will receive tax cuts to help pay for their employee’s heath care.
- Extension of Children’s Healthcare Insurance – Millions of low-income children will receive healthcare insurance due to a 61-cent tax increase per cigarette pack.
- The Veterans Healthcare Budget Reform and Transparency Act – This act helped increase financial aid to severely wounded veterans and their caretakers.
2) Economy, Finances, and Jobs
- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – Otherwise known as the controversial $787 billion stimulus plan, the federal stimulus added or saved 2.1 million jobs by the fourth quarter of 2009 and a total of 3 million jobs to date. The addition of the jobs helped boost the economy by 3.5% and decrease unemployment by 2.1%. Without this bill, America would have suffered another Great Depression.
- Education – The Obama Treasury passed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which will increase Pell Grants to $5,500, $6,900 in 2019, and keeps interests rates low on subsidized student federal loans. This act will save taxpayers $87 billion over the next 10 years for not helping fund wasteful financial aid programs. In addition, $77 million will go back into education, while $10 will go to the Treasury to reduce entitlement spending.
- Women and Pay Discrimination – President Obama approved a bill that would allow women to sue their employer’s for pay discrimination.
3) International Relations
- Operation Iraqi Freedom is Over – Troops are returning home! Over 4,000 American soldiers have died, over 30,000 wounded and over 77,000 Iraqis have died. After nearly a decade of combat, casualties and many levels of pain from in both countries, the United States is finally pulling out. Operation New Dawn has begun.
- Lowered the Nuclear Threat of Russia – President Obama met with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev and signed an agreement that would reduce nuclear missiles in both countries. This strategic arms agreement improved the US-Russia relationship.
- Cuban Americans and Cuba – President Obama signed a law that lifted travel and remittance restrictions for Cuban Americans so that they can travel to their home country to visit their family and send their loved ones money.
4) United States Government
- Communications – I'm not talking about his eloquent speeches that got most of America to vote for him; President Obama actually made transparency a priority and published the first ever White House blog. He has also led live question-and-answer sessions. After every monumental decisions - like the stimulus plan and the increase of Afghanistan troops - he gave a thorough State of Address outlying his reasoning behind these moves.
- Supreme Court Picks Lead To More Diversity On High Court - Obama's first pick, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, brings much needed diversity to the current Supreme Court. The Latino community is facing a high amount of discrimination due to the increase of immigration and the economy and needs a representative who will protect and understand their concerns. His second pick, Justice Elena Kagan, is just the fourth woman ever to serve on the High Court.
- Office of Urban Affairs – America’s low-income and crime-ridden cities are now getting the attention they deserve. The Obama administration created this office in the White House to serve America’s struggling cities. From the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $2 billion will be allocated to Byrne Grants, which funds anti-gang and anti-gun task forces.
5) Environment & Science
- Forests – More than 2 million acres of wilderness, thousands of miles of rivers and multiple national parks have been put under federal protection.
- The Automobile Industry – Yes, it was embarrassing to see America's car company, General Motors, be bailed out, but President Obama did aid in a more effective framework for recovery and has set sustainable goals. Our automobile industry was out of date and needed significant changes in order to stay competitive in this global market. The structural changes, managerial reorganization and cuts in employment helped pave the way for a more efficient industry. President Obama wants to raise the car mileage from 25 mpg to 35.5 by 2016.
- Embryonic Stem Cell Research – President Obama lifted the Bush-era restrictions on federal funding for this research. Thanks to this lift, the first patient is being treated for their partially paralyzed spine.
As you can see, President Obama has done much to improve the welfare in the United States during the past two years. Many issues have been well handled from the economy, to education, to healthcare and to international relations. Even if you disagree with this assessment, I strongly encourage everyone to vote this upcoming election. Let your voice - and your opinion - be heard.
Reach Reporter Evelina Weary here.