For anyone who doesn't recall all the positive accomplishments of President Obama's first 3+ years in office, here are several lists and descriptions of them. Don't feel bad if you didn't have them memorized, because there are a lot to keep track of.|
These lists were originally compiled for Obama's re-election campaign in 2012, but they are worth noting again after Trump either took credit for some of them or un-did others when he could.
1. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.
2. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for twenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.
3. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.
4. Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. Last troops left on December 18, 2011.
5. Began Drawdown of War in Afghanistan: From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces are now down to 91,000, with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of summer 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.
6. Eliminated Osama bin laden: In 2011, ordered special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.
7. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.
8. Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.
9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.
10. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi: In March 2011, joined a coalition of European and Arab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops. Gaddafi’s forty-two-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on October 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.
11. Told Mubarak to Go: On February 1, 2011, publicly called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to accept reform or step down, thus weakening the dictator’s position and putting America on the right side of the Arab Spring. Mubarak ended thirty-year rule when overthrown on February 11.
12. Reversed Bush Torture Policies: Two days after taking office, nullified Bush-era rulings that had allowed detainees in U.S. custody to undergo certain “enhanced” interrogation techniques considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions. Also released the secret Bush legal rulings supporting the use of these techniques.
13. Improved America’s Image Abroad: With new policies, diplomacy, and rhetoric, reversed a sharp decline in world opinion toward the U.S. (and the corresponding loss of “soft power”) during the Bush years. From 2008 to 2011, favorable opinion toward the United States rose in ten of fifteen countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, with an average increase of 26 percent.
14. Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Spending: As part of the 2010 health care reform bill, signed measure ending the wasteful decades-old practice of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. Starting July 2010 all students began getting their federal student loans directly from the federal government. Treasury will save $67 billion over ten years, $36 billion of which will go to expanding Pell Grants to lower-income students.
15. Created Race to the Top: With funds from stimulus, started $4.35 billion program of competitive grants to encourage and reward states for education reform.
16. Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards: Released new fuel efficiency standards in 2011 that will nearly double the fuel economy for cars and trucks by 2025.
17. Coordinated International Response to Financial Crisis: To keep world economy out of recession in 2009 and 2010, helped secure from G-20 nations more than $500 billion for the IMF to provide lines of credit and other support to emerging market countries, which kept them liquid and avoided crises with their currencies.
18. Passed Mini Stimuli: To help families hurt by the recession and spur the economy as stimulus spending declined, signed series of measures (July 22, 2010; December 17, 2010; December 23, 2011) to extend unemployment insurance and cut payroll taxes.
19. Began Asia “Pivot”: In 2011, reoriented American military and diplomatic priorities and focus from the Middle East and Europe to the Asian-Pacific region. Executed multipronged strategy of positively engaging China while reasserting U.S. leadership in the region by increasing American military presence and crafting new commercial, diplomatic, and military alliances with neighboring countries made uncomfortable by recent Chinese behavior.
20. Increased Support for Veterans: With so many soldiers coming home from Iraq and Iran with serious physical and mental health problems, yet facing long waits for services, increased 2010 Department of Veterans Affairs budget by 16 percent and 2011 budget by 10 percent. Also signed new GI bill offering $78 billion in tuition assistance over a decade, and provided multiple tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans. Families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB. Ended media blackout on war casualties; reporting full information. Ended media blackout on covering the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB; the media is now permitted to do so pending adherence to respectful rules and approval of fallen soldier’s family. Ended the previous stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date.
21. Tightened Sanctions on Iran: In effort to deter Iran’s nuclear program, signed Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (2010) to punish firms and individuals who aid Iran’s petroleum sector. In late 2011 and early 2012, coordinated with other major Western powers to impose sanctions aimed at Iran’s banks and with Japan, South Korea, and China to shift their oil purchases away from Iran.
22. Created Conditions to Begin Closing Dirtiest Power Plants: New EPA restrictions on mercury and toxic pollution, issued in December 2011, likely to lead to the closing of between sixty-eight and 231 of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants. Estimated cost to utilities: at least $11 billion by 2016. Estimated health benefits: $59 billion to $140 billion. Will also significantly reduce carbon emissions and, with other regulations, comprises what’s been called Obama’s “stealth climate policy.”
23. Passed Credit Card Reforms: Signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (2009), which prohibits credit card companies from raising rates without advance notification, mandates a grace period on interest rate increases, and strictly limits overdraft and other fees.
24. Eliminated Catch-22 in Pay Equality Laws: Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, giving women who are paid less than men for the same work the right to sue their employers after they find out about the discrimination, even if that discrimination happened years ago. Under previous law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the statute of limitations on such suits ran out 180 days after the alleged discrimination occurred, even if the victims never knew about it.
25. Protected Two Liberal Seats on the U.S. Supreme Court: Nominated and obtained confirmation for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman to serve, in 2009; and Elena Kagan, the fourth woman to serve, in 2010. They replaced David Souter and John Paul Stevens, respectively.
26. Improved Food Safety System: In 2011, signed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which boosts the Food and Drug Administration’s budget by $1.4 billion and expands its regulatory responsibilities to include increasing number of food inspections, issuing direct food recalls, and reviewing the current food safety practices of countries importing products into America.
27. Achieved New START Treaty: Signed with Russia (2010) and won ratification in Congress (2011) of treaty that limits each country to 1,550 strategic warheads (down from 2,200) and 700 launchers (down from more than 1,400), and reestablished and strengthened a monitoring and transparency program that had lapsed in 2009, through which each country can monitor the other.
28. Expanded National Service: Signed Serve America Act in 2009, which authorized a tripling of the size of AmeriCorps. Program grew 13 percent to 85,000 members across the country by 2012, when new House GOP majority refused to appropriate more funds for further expansion.
29. Expanded Wilderness and Watershed Protection: Signed Omnibus Public Lands Management Act (2009), which designated more than 2 million acres as wilderness, created thousands of miles of recreational and historic trails, and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers.
30. Gave the FDA Power to Regulate Tobacco: Signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009). Nine years in the making and long resisted by the tobacco industry, the law mandates that tobacco manufacturers disclose all ingredients, obtain FDA approval for new tobacco products, and expand the size and prominence of cigarette warning labels, and bans the sale of misleadingly labeled “light” cigarette brands and tobacco sponsorship of entertainment events.
31. Pushed Federal Agencies to Be Green Leaders: Issued executive order in 2009 requiring all federal agencies to make plans to soften their environmental impacts by 2020. Goals include 30 percent reduction in fleet gasoline use, 26 percent boost in water efficiency, and sustainability requirements for 95 percent of all federal contracts. Because federal government is the country’s single biggest purchaser of goods and services, likely to have ripple effects throughout the economy for years to come.
32. Passed Fair Sentencing Act: Signed 2010 legislation that reduces sentencing disparity between crack versus powder cocaine possessionfrom100 to1 to 18 to1.
33. Trimmed and Reoriented Missile Defense: Cut the Reagan-era “Star Wars” missile defense budget, saving $1.4 billion in 2010, and canceled plans to station antiballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of sea-based defense plan focused on Iran and North Korea.
34. Began Post-Post-9/11 Military Builddown: After winning agreement from congressional Republicans and Democrats in summer 2011 budget deal to reduce projected defense spending by $450 billion, proposed new DoD budget this year with cuts of that size and a new national defense strategy that would shrink ground forces from 570,000 to 490,000 over the next ten years while increasing programs in intelligence gathering and cyberwarfare.
35. Let Space Shuttle Die and Killed Planned Moon Mission: Allowed the expensive ($1 billion per launch), badly designed, dangerous shuttle program to make its final launch on July 8, 2011. Cut off funding for even more bloated and problem-plagued Bush-era Constellation program to build moon base in favor of support for private-sector low-earth orbit ventures, research on new rocket technologies for long-distance manned flight missions, and unmanned space exploration, including the largest interplanetary rover ever launched, which will investigate Mars’s potential to support life.
36. Invested Heavily in Renewable Technology: As part of the 2009 stimulus, invested $90 billion, more than any previous administration, in research on smart grids, energy efficiency, electric cars, renewable electricity generation, cleaner coal, and biofuels.
37. Crafting Next-Generation School Tests: Devoted $330 million in stimulus money to pay two consortia of states and universities to create competing versions of new K-12 student performance tests based on latest psychometric research. New tests could transform the learning environment in vast majority of public school classrooms beginning in 2014.
38. Cracked Down on Bad For-Profit Colleges: In effort to fight predatory practices of some for-profit colleges, Department of Education issued “gainful employment” regulations in 2011 cutting off commercially focused schools from federal student aid funding if more than 35 percent of former students aren’t paying off their loans and/or if the average former student spends more than 12 percent of his or her total earnings servicing student loans.
39. Improved School Nutrition: In coordination with Michelle Obama, signed Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 mandating $4.5 billion spending boost and higher nutritional and health standards for school lunches. New rules based on the law, released in January, double the amount of fruits and vegetables and require only whole grains in food served to students.
40. Expanded Hate Crimes Protections: Signed Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009), which expands existing hate crime protections to include crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender, or disability, in addition to race, color, religion, or national origin.
41. Avoided Scandal: As of November 2011, served longer than any president in decades without a scandal, as measured by the appearance of the word “scandal” (or lack thereof) on the front page of the Washington Post.
42. Brokered Agreement for Speedy Compensation to Victims of Gulf Oil Spill: Though lacking statutory power to compel British Petroleum to act, used moral authority of his office to convince oil company to agree in 2010 to a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; $6.5 billion already paid out without lawsuits. By comparison, it took nearly two decades for plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez Alaska oil spill case to receive $1.3 billion.
43. Created Recovery.gov: Web site run by independent board of inspectors general looking for fraud and abuse in stimulus spending, provides public with detailed information on every contract funded by $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Thanks partly to this transparency, board has uncovered very little fraud, and Web site has become national model: “The stimulus has done more to promote transparency at almost all levels of government than any piece of legislation in recent memory,” reports Governing magazine.
44. Pushed Broadband Coverage: Proposed and obtained in 2011 Federal Communications Commission approval for a shift of $8 billion in subsidies away from landlines and toward broadband Internet for lower-income rural families.
45. Expanded Health Coverage for Children: Signed 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act, which allows the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover health care for 4 million more children, paid for by a tax increase on tobacco products.
46. Recognized the Dangers of Carbon Dioxide: In 2009, EPA declared carbon dioxide a pollutant, allowing the agency to regulate its production.
47. Expanded Stem Cell Research: In 2009, eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, which shows promise in treating spinal injuries, among many other areas.
48. Provided Payment to Wronged Minority Farmers: In 2009, signed Claims Resolution Act, which provided $4.6 billion in funding for a legal settlement with black and Native American farmers who the government cheated out of loans and natural resource royalties in years past.
49. Helped South Sudan Declare Independence: Helped South Sudan Declare Independence: Appointed two envoys to Sudan and personally attended a special UN meeting on the area. Through U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, helped negotiate a peaceful split in 2011.
50. Killed the F-22: In 2009, ended further purchases of Lockheed Martin single-seat, twin-engine, fighter aircraft, which cost $358 million apiece. Though the military had 187 built, the plane has never flown a single combat mission. Eliminating it saved $4 billion.
51. Limits on lobbyist’s access to the White House. Limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration
52. Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research. Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research. New federal funding for science and research labs
53. States are permitted to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards. Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants) after years of neglect. Funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access to K-12 schools. New funds for school construction.
54. Better body armor is now being provided to our troops. The missile defense program is being cut by $1.4 billion in 2010. Restarted the nuclear nonproliferation talks and building back up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols.
55. Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic. Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. Ended the previous policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions. Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles. Cash for clunkers program offers vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars; stimulated auto sales. Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government.
56. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office. Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return home to visit loved ones
57. Immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters
58. Closed offshore tax safe havens. Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals. Ended the previous policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs; the new policy is to promote in-sourcing to bring jobs back. Ended the previous practice of protecting credit card companies; in place of it are new consumer protections from credit card industry’s predatory practices.
59. Energy producing plants must begin preparing to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources.
60. Lower drug costs for seniors. Ended the previous practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for cheaper drugs; the federal government is now realizing hundreds of millions in savings
61. Improved conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other military hospitals
62. Sent envoys to Middle East and other parts of the world that had been neglected for years; reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy.
63. Established a new cyber security office.
64. Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient.
65. Students struggling to make college loan payments can have their loans refinanced.
66. Improving benefits for veterans.
67. Many more press conferences and town halls and much more media access than previous administration.
68. Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud.
69. The FDA is now regulating tobacco.
70. Ended previous policy of cutting the FDA and circumventing FDA rules.
71. Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports.
72. Authorized discussions with North Korea and private mission by Pres. Bill Clinton to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons.
73. Authorized discussions with Myanmar and mission by Sen. Jim Web to secure the release of an American held captive.
74. Making more loans available to small businesses.
77. Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans.
78. Limited salaries of senior White House aides; cut to $100,000.
83. Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production.
84. Returned money authorized for refurbishment of White House offices and private living quarters.
85. Paid for redecoration of White House living quarters out of his own pocket.
86. Held first Seder in White House.
87. Oh, and he built a swing set for the girls outside the Oval Office.
Here is the updated list of what I judge to be Obama’s most significant accomplishments in the less than 2 years since he was elected as President of the United States: As you read through this list, I ask you to weigh the totality of these achievements listed below against those accomplishments of Obama’s presidential predecessors, Democrats and Republicans, and then, after considering this, make your determination of whether you think he has done a good job.
1. Appointing two Supreme Court Justices: When people consider their presidential voting decision, most don’t consider that amongst the most important and enduring presidential responsibilities is the president’s ability to appoint supreme court justices. This is arguably a president’s biggest opportunity to influence his country, because Supreme Court justices sit until they retire or pass away, so the impact of his decision generally will last many decades beyond his years as president. Obama has been fortunate enough to have two Supreme Court Justices retire in his first few years in office and he has managed to secure both of his nominations through wise selection and political skill. He has added two Democrats, replacing two moderate Democrats in the process. If a Republican has won the presidency instead, we would now be looking at an unbalanced Supreme Court with six conservatives and only three liberal judges – a balance that would have been in place for many many decades. In the appointment process, Obama also introduced needed diversity to the bench with two more women on the court, bringing the count to a record three women sitting, while also introducing the nation’s first Hispanic to the Supreme Court with his choice of Sotomayor.
2. Passing Universal Healthcare: Obama accomplished what no prior Democrat could in expanding coverage to 32 million more Americans while simultaneously reducing the deficit by an estimated $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. It delivers on every provision of the Patient Bill of Rights that Bill Clinton unsuccessfully tried to get passed, including making it illegal to deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and capping out of pocket expenses when people get sick (so people don’t go in to bankruptcy after getting ill). It helps shift our medical system’s focus to preventative care by covering the cost of early warning tests so our doctors find diseases before they are too advanced – avoiding larger medical expenses down the road and requires the largest and richest American companies to provides insurance for all their employees. It attempts to lower health care costs by forcing all Americans to have medical insurance and pay their fair share so the system is more efficient – similar to how all Americans need to have car insurance – while providing tax credits to help the poor and small businesses afford this coverage. It increases competition by creating marketplace exchanges to make it easier for small businesses and those without insurance to shop and compare plans. It funds co-ops who can offer competitive insurance plans and provide further competition for insurance companies. It allows insurance companies to offer plans across state borders further increasing the supply of competitive plans. It provides funding, infrastructure, and support to automate, digitize, and unify the country’s outdated medical information system reducing system-wide costs, improving care, and increasing productivity. Perhaps most importantly, it sets up an independent commission of doctors and medical experts to identify and root out medical system waste, fraud, and abuse and includes many pieces of reform that will reduce the most wasteful medical system practices.
3. Financial industry reform: The most sweeping financial industry reform legislation since the Great Depression, this legislation tries to correct those industry issues that helped create the current recession we are still digging outselves out of. It provides a system to allow the government to break apart large financial institutions that threaten the economy, creates a council of federal regulators to coordinate the detection of risks to the financial system, subjects a wider range of financial companies to government oversight, creates a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to help protect citizens from unscrupulous practices, and reins in banks’ ability to trade in risky financial instruments such as credit derivatives.
4. Preventing a 2nd Great Depression: While preventing a depression is not sexy and certainly is reactive, history may say that this is still one of his most important accomplishment to date. The vast majority of economists and experts say that the nation had a high chance of slipping in to a Depression had this stimulus not passed along with the innovative actions of the Fed. Obama has worked with Bernanke and the Fed, put a team of some of the best economic minds around him, helped save America’s 3 major car manufacturers from going out of business, passed the largest economic Stimulus Bill in the nation’s history, and executed other legislative changes to keep liquidity flowing in our economy, save jobs that would have otherwise been lost, and fund areas of our economy that are strategic and important for our long term economic competitiveness including health care, education, green energy, science, and infrastructure.
Of course, critics will say that the economy today is still sputtering, holds some risk of sliding back in to a recession, and that a real recovery will take many years. These are all true statements and Obama has not moved us from a possible Depression to a fast growing economy – but this is a completely unrealistic, almost childish, expectation given the severity of the financial crisis, our current debt, and other economic realities that we have to deal with. Could he have done more or done it differently? Certainly. I would have loved to see Obama do more, faster to invest in small businesses, help them get loans, and help them become more competitive with the large corporations that increasingly dominate our economy. But today we are not in a horrible depression and things are stable and this alone is a tremendous accomplishment.
5. Bringing the war in Iraq to an end: Obama has reduced troops from a peak of 170,000 down to 50,000, with the remaining troops focused on training and recruiting Iraqi forces, rather than participating in combat. With this news, Obama delivered on a campaign promise he made while bringing to an end a misguided, expensive, and costly war which served no clear purpose. He also ensured that, in the process of wrapping up efforts in the region, he did so responsibly. Iraq is not in utter chaos as it once was at the peak of the insurgency and it stands a chance of having a reasonable future and being a reasonably stable Democratic state in the Middle East.
6. Passed legislation to curb greenhouse gases and improve the environment: Obama implemented new regulations on power plants, factories, and oil refineries to limit greenhouse gas emissions and curb global warming, required energy producing plants to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources, allowed states to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards, increased, for the first time in more than a decade, the fuel economy standards for Model Year 2011 for cars and trucks, funded investment in clean energy technologies through a combination of spending and tax breaks, signed an omnibus public lands bill, which allows for 2 million more acres to be declared wilderness, and issued a Presidential Memorandum to the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances, like dishwashers and refrigerators, which, over the next three decades, will save twice the amount of energy produced by all the coal-fired power plants in America in any given year.
7. Nuclear non-proliferation agreement: Obama met with 47 presidents in a 3 day nuclear summit to lower the nuclear weapons count with a treaty signed between US and Russia, putting the world back on a path to reducing nuclear warheads.
8. Repairing Our Image Abroad: After 8 years of damage to our country’s image, Obama has helped repair badly damaged relationships with foreign powers across the world from Russia to Europe and reached out to the Arab world. This is necessary and critical in order for the most influential countries to work together to fight challenges such as Global Warming and Nuclear expansion. It also helps to fight terrorist recruiting by helping change America’s negative image. It is increasingly important for the US to engage with other countries as fast-growing nations like Brazil, China, and India join the traditional powerhouses and as America adjusts to a world with more diverse and influential players in the political equation.
9. Lifted Bush restrictions on embryonic stem cell research: Obama provided federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research, helping make it easier for scientists to find cures for our most dangerous diseases.
10. Reversed George W. Bush’s ban on federal funding to foreign organizations that allow abortions.
11. Implemented education reforms: Made higher college more accessible and affordable through significant increases in scholarships and funding, funded early learning programs, and, most importantly, through an innovative program called Race to the Top, spurred reforms in state and local district K-12 education by providing states with incentives to make positive changes to their education systems. Race to the Top prompted 48 states to adopt common standards for K-12. Some notable changes prompted by the program include Illinois lifting a cap on the number of charter schools it allows, Massachusetts making it easier for students in low-performing schools to switch to charters, and West Virginia proposing a merit pay system that includes student achievement in its compensation calculations.
12. Tobacco regulation. On June 22, 2009, Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which, for the first time, gave the U.S. Food & Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of tobacco.
Whereas my last assessment, made 8 months ago, on what Obama had done in office was subdued (”has not blown anyone over by his administrative record to date. His most significant accomplishment, while a job well done, was primarily a reaction to the economic environment handed to him while his other accomplishments are relatively tactical.”), my conclusion today is completely different. The list of his accomplishments are staggering for any US president – particularly when you compare him against our more recent US presidents. Try to come up with a list of positive accomplishments by Clinton or both Bush presidents over their entire tenures and you won’t be able to count them on one hand. Meanwhile, in less than 2 years, Obama has done what most had said was politically impossible and absolutely essential for us to maintain a competitive economy in the future (Universal health care), tackled highly challenging and comprehensive economic reforms (Financial industry reform), and stabilized a very troubling economy.
After all of these achievements, it will be interesting to see what else Obama can get done over the next few years of his first term. Even if he did not achieve anymore legislative accomplishments during the remainder of his tenure, Obama will have had one of the most productive terms of any president in the history of our country.
Professor lists Obama accomplishments: Over 244 and growing
Overhauled the food safety system;
Approved the Lily Ledbetter “Equal Pay” for women rule;
Ended “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” discrimination in the military;
Passed the Hate Crimes bill in Congress;
Appointed two progressive women to the U.S. Supreme Court including the first Latina;
Pushed through the Affordable Health Care Act, outlawing denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, extending until age 26 health care coverage of children under parent’s plans, steps toward “Medicare for All;”
Expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) health care for children; Pushed through a $789 economic stimulus bill that saved or created 3 million jobs and began task of repairing the nation’s infrastructure;
Overhauled the credit card industry, making it more consumer friendly;
Established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and used a recess appointment to keep it on track in the face of GOP attempts to derail it;
Also outmaneuvered GOP in naming two members of the National Labor Relations Board blocked by the Republicans in their attempt to shut down the NLRB;
Won two extensions of the debt ceiling and extensions of unemployment compensation in the face of Republican threats to shut down the U.S. government;
Pulled troops out of Iraq and began draw down of troops in Afghanistan.
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