Friday, September 16, 2011

What Has Obama Done for Me Lately?

With presidential campaigns taking place only (not to say infrequently!) every four years, we sometimes get the feeling that the administration cares a lot about us when it's election time, and then forgets about the people altogether. I would argue, however, that this isn't the case. Rather, the people are bombarded with campaign messages and political debate during those election times, and then the people tune out when the commercials stop running. But the politics goes on, and a lot more gets done than most Americans bother to read about...unless you like to watch C-SPAN. Let's take a look.

One brilliant website to check out is "What the heck has Obama done so far?," essentially a moderator-edited feed for the Obama-Biden administration's accomplishments. The site points out a lot of overlooked activity in the Obama agenda. Here are some highlights:

Yes We Can
Obama sought to inspire America, helping citizens do good in our country. The creation of, a government-run volunteerism database, helped jump-start this process.

Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, "giving the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of tobacco for the first time." He increased the average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg to 35.5mpg over the next 5 years. A longer list of environmental progress can be found here; an even longer list can be generated by thinking about everything that Bush would have done in Obama's place.

International Relations
Obama signed the New START Treaty with Russia, working to reduce the number of nuclear arms in both countries' storehouses. This means a reduced chance of nukes falling into the wrong hands, accidentally detonating, being targeted by terrorist bombers, or generally adding toxins the environment. Plus, it helps our relationship with Russia. Obama ended the Bush-era practice of CIA "advanced interrogation methods," or torture. Americans with relatives in Cuba can now visits those relatives, reversing policies left over from the Cold War. Wonder what took the rest of the presidents so long. And if you hadn't heard, we finally got bin Laden, who apparently actually hated Obama so much that he wanted America not to reelect him.

Obama signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act to "stop fraud and wasteful spending" of our defense budget. He established the Credit Card Bill of Rights to protect consumers from arbitrary rate increases. The administration also signed into law Wall Street reform, preventing proprietary trading from banks. Oh, and he created more private-sector jobs in 2010 than President Bush did in his entire 8-year term. Sounds like some real change to me.

Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, combating gender-based pay discrimination. He extended federal employee benefits to same-sex partners, not just heterosexual spouses. He ended the military's discriminatory policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Government Transparency
Obama reversed the suspicious censorship practice of prohibiting media coverage of the return of fallen soldiers to the Dover Air Force Base. He launched, so that we could all see where recovery money was going. He even voluntarily disclosed the White House visitors list for the first time ever.

Obama overturned the horrific Bush-era policy of restricting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research - the exact research that helped recently my grandfather combat cancer. Not to mention that Health Care Reform Bill, which did, after all, prevent denial based on preexisting conditions. Not even Clinton was able to pass such a bill. He reversed the "gag" rule that had been preventing federal funding on the basis of whether or not an organization performed abortions.

High-tech might not have been the last administration's strong-suit, but Obama set us up with our first Chief Technology Officer, a direct campaign promise.

And here's what he's done for me, almost personally:
  • I can stay on my parents' health insurance until age 26
  • I can get better student loans
  • I get solar panels in my school district 

Solar panels? Yes. Thanks to the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, states and counties were offered money in exchange for environmentally-friendly programs. So now, Lower Moreland is going to be using solar energy, which means (1) a healthier environment with less pollution and greenhouse gasses (from fossil-fuel energy), (2) a step toward energy independence for the infrastructure of this country, and (3) new green jobs in my hometown as construction begins on these projects. That's a win for the environment, a win for the United States, and a win for the economy.

It's a necessary step for the government to take, too. After how, how does one expect to grow a solar panel company? Surely, not many home-owners will find it cost-effective to purchase panels. But when local governments have the funding to purchase large construction projects in green technology, these new companies can grow. The same goes for electric vehicles; we need government to issue permits for (or go around themselves) installing charging stations before we can expect people to switch over to plug-in cars. Obama is moving the country forward, toward a cleaner, more high-tech, more equal and informed future.

So, what has Obama done for me lately? Despite push-back from a hostile House, it looks like...a whole lot. I wonder: Which challenger is going to be able to convince America to stop believing, to revert this change, and to give up hope for our shared future?

Whoever it is is going to have a tough time; the White House promised a lot, and while his opponents have been complaining, shouting, and denouncing, President Obama has been doing.

1 comment:

  1. And your major is _____________?
    Maybe Obama has a PR job waiting for you.


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