January 20, 2009, after 2 years of a high minded “hope and change” campaign and a decisive electoral victory, Barack Obama took the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States of America. At the time, the country was in a deeply troubled state. In the year before President Obama took office, the unemployment rate increased almost three points (5.0 in January 2008 to 7.8 in January 2009). In just the three months before the president took office (October-December 2008), the economy dangerously shrank by almost 9%.
However, that night, as Barack and Michelle Obama were dancing to Beyonce’s rendition of “At Last” at their inaugural ball, 15 prominent republicans (including VP Candidate Paul Ryan) met for several hours to devise their strategy to oppose Obama. They decided to (1) “Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies” in 2009 – they did, (2) “win the spear point of the House in 2010,”– they did. (3) “Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011,” which they did when we were led to the brink of breaching our debt limit and two government shutdowns, and (4) “Win the White House and the Senate in 2012.”
Their meeting was not focused on creating their own plan to address the country’s problems, or to figure out the areas in which they could work with the new president in good faith. Instead, it was to establish a plan of pure opposition and obstruction.
NavigatingPolitics.com endorses President Obama not only because of his record of the past four years, we proudly endorse his re-election because of the record he’s achieved despite the premeditated and unprecedented obstruction of the Republican Party.
It is the mixture of large scale reforms (Health Care, Financial Regulatory, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Repeal of DADT, Race to the Top Education Program), and the lesser-known successes (Student Loan Reform, Credit Card Reform, Reduction in the Crack/Cocaine disparity, Increased Fuel efficiency standards) that has earned Barack Obama the opportunity for a second term as President.
President Obama came in and took swift and decisive action to stabilize the depleting economy. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (The Stimulus) cut taxes for 95% of Americans, invested billions in infrastructure and public work projects, helped prevent layoffs of public employees (teachers, firefighters, and police officers). This act, signed less than a month after the president took office, is estimated to have saved or created 3.5 million jobs.
In the next few months he continued to stabilize sectors of the economy, most notably, the auto industry. After President Bush gave a loan to the auto companies that kept them afloat for a few more months, President Obama conditioned any more federal money on a viable restructuring plan. He denied their first plan to simply downsize, choosing instead to bring them through a federally-backed bankruptcy, saving the industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are affected by it.
Since day one, the President has made clear that he would fight for the middle class, to not only help it survive the crisis, but to help the middle class thrive again after a decade of stagnation. The credit card reform act he signed made arbitrary interest rate increases illegal and required 45 days notice for any increase, it required billing statements to be mailed at least three weeks before the due date, and limited the fees a credit card company could charge. The increased fuel efficiency standards (minimum miles-per-gallon) he negotiated with 13 automakers will save drivers an average of $8,000 dollars from reduced fuel costs. And the student loan reform helped double funding for student aid by increasing the Pell Grants for low-income college students, making loans more accessible, and capping loan repayments at 10% of a student’s income starting in 2014.
The President’s signature achievement, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known on the streets of Downtown DC as “Obamacare”), finally enacted near-universal health insurance, something that had been unsuccessfully attempted since 1912 with President Theodore Roosevelt. The law makes it illegal to deny insurance from people with pre-existing conditions (pregnancy has been considered a pre-existing condition), allows youth to stay on their parents plan until they are 26 (so they could be insured if their first job doesn’t have benefits or if they are unemployed), and it gives tax breaks to help small businesses insure their employees. Taken as a whole, it helps to insure 30 million Americans and reduces the deficit by at least 82 billion dollars in the first 10 years.
This President’s success extends when you look at his foreign policy. When he took office, we were in 2 wars. Today, the war in Iraq is over with no troops serving and the war in Afghanistan is on track to end in 2014. When he took office, he made it a priority to track Osama Bin Laden down. And when he was found, President Obama gave the risky order (only 60% chance it was Bin Laden) to go into Bin Laden’s compound to kill him. When people throughout the middle-east stood up for freedom from their long-time dictators, the President acted on what I have called the “Obama Doctrine”: to mobilize the international community for collective action during situations that might not threaten America’s safety, but threaten our values of Freedom. The result was the removal of dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, all without committing one US combat troop on the ground (it took well over 100,000 in Iraq). And with Iran, the sanctions he signed have had a crippling effect on the country and its economy. Iran is more isolated now than ever before.
For the majority of these successes (there are many more), the republican party has made it their goal to obstruct every step of the way. With the Recovery Act, they sent out a memo saying they were planning to oppose it hours BEFORE they were scheduled to meet with the President about it. Despite the health care law almost being a replica of the Republican health care plan in 1993, every republican voted against the bill. Republicans were largely against the financial regulatory reform law that seeks to ensure a financial collapse won’t happen again. In 2011, when President Obama presented a plan that would continue and accelerate job growth (The American Jobs Act), Republicans didn’t even allow a vote on the bill in the House of Representatives.
The choice in this election is clear as the candidates are extremely different. We can’t support a Presidential candidate that insists it is not his job to worry about 47 percent of Americans because he’ll “never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” especially when his publicly proposed policies align with that private comment. Governor Romney plans to cut taxes by 4.8 trillion dollars (favoring the wealthiest Americans) and pay for it by eliminating deductions benefiting the wealthiest Americans, despite the fact that their aren’t enough deductions to cover half the costs. While the President doubled student aid, Governor Romney called his running-mate’s budget plan that cut all increases to aid “marvelous.” Governor Romney has promised to repeal Obama-care, with no specifics on how he would replace it. His changes to Medicare and Medicaid will result in higher payments from seniors and less coverage for the poor. In the foreign arena, Governor Romney said ending the war in Iraq was “tragic” and said he would have left at least 30,000 troops in the country. He then criticized the plan to leave Afghanistan(America’s longest war) by 2014, before adopting that very timeline in the last debate. On issues including abortion, equal pay for equal work, taxes, and immigration, Governor Romney has taken multiple stances showing that his sincerity should be questioned.
President Obama has not been a perfect president. He has had failures and setbacks in his 4 years in office. Guantanamo Bay is still open, the deficit (though slightly lower than what he inherited) is still too high, Medicare and Medicaid are still on track to go bankrupt, gun violence is expanding, climate change has yet to be addressed, Iran is still on track to get a nuclear weapon, and unemployment remains uncomfortably high (treading downwards). It is easy to be disappointed when we were promised so much. However, no man, no President is perfect. It cannot be denied this country is moving in the right direction. The economy that was shrinking at nearly 9% when he took office is larger and grew 2% last quarter (increase from previous quarter). In the three months before President Obama took office, we lost 2.3 million jobs. We then lost 2.2 million in his first three months. But since then, the US has created over 5.2 million jobs, exports are up 42%, stock prices are higher, and home values are increasing.
When President Obama decided to run for office, it was to fix the structural problems that were hampering the middle class. And while he was forced to spend much of his efforts simply stabilizing the economy, he has made great strides towards attacking those structural issues– despite the unprecedented opposition. For this, NavigatingPolitics.com believes President Barack Obama has earned more time to finish the job we elected him to do and encourage you to re-elect him for a second term in office.
So what do YOU think? Does the President deserve your vote? Comment Below!!!
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