Obama At 2: Where Has The President Brought Us In Two Years?
Two years after President Barack Obama proclaimed in his inaugural address an end to the “false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas” that “strangle” American politics, some of those very same political dynamics have forced him to compromise or drop key initiatives.
At the exact midpoint of his first term, the ground-shifting change that elevated the junior senator from Illinois to the highest political office in the U.S. has been trumped by an even more powerful Republican wave.
The reality is troubling for those who support Obama because so much of his platform remains unfulfilled after two years: resolving the nation's remaining economic woes; restoring prestige to American schools, colleges and universities; rescuing those caught in a cracked immigration system; retrofitting aging technological pathways and the laws that regulate them; receiving a greater amount of energy from sun, soil and wind than oil and coal and reining in the national debt by reforming tax codes and entitlement spending. In Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama has yet to return full power over national security to those country’s leaders.
In this special report, Neon Tommy examines the unkept promises, the debates that await the next two years and the chances of success for each outstanding goal.
Education reform may be one of the few places Obama can find consensus among Democrats and Republicans. But speculation is rampant as to whether the president will succeed in rewriting the Bush administration’s 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, given that a divided Congress seems to agree on the law’s failure but disagrees on how to fix it.
Even before his term began two years ago, Barack Obama tried to lower expectations for economic recovery, telling ABC News that his $775 billion stimulus package wouldn’t solve everything immediately.
A Pasadena-based organization of nearly 140 businesses across the nation, known as CalStart, embodies just the type of innovation, research, development and collaboration between competitors that President Barack Obama will demand become commonplace in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.
The earliest roadblock to any spending plans could come in late spring when Obama will ask Congress to raise the ceiling of the national debt. Currently the county’s debt is $14 trillion and expected to surpass the previously set limit of $14.2 trillion.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission is facing stiff opposition from GOP leaders and the question on the minds of many network neutrality supporters is: Will Obama be able to come through on his campaign promise? The answer to that question, it seems, varies depending on whom you ask.
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed more than 300 service members from Southern California through the end of 2010. With tensions rising in the Korean peninsula, political instability in Tunisia and Iran’s nuclear program, many Americans wonder what comes next.
As political realities force the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, American diplomatic and political corps abroad are increasingly turning to private security firms and contracted force themselves. The State Department is increasingly acting like the Department of Defense.
Strengthening the borders is an ongoing effort, a combination of manpower, funding and technology, Pitts said. Infrastructure – meaning fencing, lighting, roads and other permanent installations – is key.
Included in the Republican’s planned immigration reform is the use of biometric data to better track foreign travelers, the abolishment any form of amnesty for illegal immigrants and the creation of a new immigration system.
OPINION: People ponder the decline in the presidential candidate talent pool, still I ask, why would any sane person jump into a tank of bloodthirsty sharks? So, when you watch Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night imagine facing what he has to face. Democrat or Republican, he is our commander-in-chief and our president and as such, he deserves our respect.
It’s true that Obama made significant progress on bringing health care to a greater number of Americans, and he shored up Wall Street regulations so a rerun of the financial meltdown that boosted him during his candidacy would be unlikely. But despite his inaugural address' focus on foreign policy, he failed to shut down Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba or cut the number of troops in Afghanistan. Middle East peace? No closer than it was before he entered office.
In two years, he's gone from talking about an end to “childish things” to an end of “tired old battles.” Neither has happened, and now the president has lost the ability to whip legislation through Congress with relative ease.
Obama promised to cut government programs that don't make American lives better. But it's hard to recall anything he has shut down. Instead, memorable are his recent call to freeze the pay of federal workers and his special BP Oil Spill Commission's recommendation to add to the federal bureaucracy. He completed the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” a month ago, fulfilling a promise he made exactly a year ago.
However, one success amid a dozen failures and repeated appeasement of his rival party may allow him to submit a positive review for history books, but it won't carry him into a second term.
On Tuesday night in his second State of the Union speech, Obama will likely offer a conciliatory address, moving away from “bold and swift” action to smart, efficient and cautious federal directives.
He plans to call for the ratification of more free trade agreements, a new round of stimulus spending in infrastructure and transportation projects, more grants and tax credits for research and development and the installation of a new framework for America's education system that holds every level of government accountable for failing schools. All the while, he will have to find ways to match the new spending by keeping an eye on the national debt with a similar amount of spending cuts and deregulation.
Obama's task in the last 731 days of his term is to make sure this winter of hardship for him doesn't suddenly become two years of unendurable partisan storms. Suddenly, there aren't just two solutions to every problem—a Tea Party movement and a slight deviation from the wishes of fellow Democrats—have left him four paths to mold into one successful road out of his sticky situation.
Obama will have to turn arrogance and defiance into humility and collaboration. Otherwise, like nearly one in 10 Americans, he will be out of a job.
Above introduction written by deputy editor Paresh Dave. Reach him here.
"Obama At 2" image by graphics editor Jenn Fong.