U.S. President Barack Obama and Justice Elena Kagan outside the Justices’ Conference Room prior to Justice Kagan’s Investiture Ceremony on October 1, 2010. (Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/Wikimedia Commons)
The first Monday in October is when the Supreme Court begins its term. For the first time in American history three women will be on the bench. Two of the women were appointed by President Obama. It’s probably not his biggest accomplishment of the last two years but it is an accomplishment none the less.
This administration has been hounded by the loud barks of Tea Party activists from the beginning of his presidency. A cable news outlet has crafted a narrative to make President Obama seem ineffective, out of touch, and dangerous. This noise seems to dominate in large parts of our community so I want to try to shut all of that out and look at the achievements of President Obama.
Let’s start with what the 2008 election was all about before the meltdown of the financial markets – Iraq. The war had become the most glaring distinction between the Democrats and Republicans. The purpose of the mission seemed to have been lost and Americans wanted to end the then five year struggle. The campaign promise that led to the election of President Obama was an end to the war in his first two years in office. This summer the last combat troops left the country. There still may be violence in the country and the role of private contractors is still large but America has made tremendous progress in bringing the war to an end. But even war was shadowed by the ever growing financial crisis.
When President Obama was sworn in, America had lost four million jobs and 750,000 in January 2008 alone. To combat the fear in markets and to protect against even more job losses the Congress and President Obama passed the stimulus. In polls the majority of Americans disapprove of the stimulus but most economists agree that the stimulus created nearly three million jobs. The private sector has seen job growth for eight consecutive months. He learned from history and used government spending to save and create jobs which protected us from another great depression. If you ask me, it worked. My only complaint might be that it wasn’t large enough.
Now onto health care. The debate was mind numbingly boring, tedious and took the better part of a year. When a vote seemed close it was pushed back. The bill grew bigger and bigger and citizens lost trust in Congress. But because of a last minute deal made by President Obama in regards to abortion the bill was passed. It’s the biggest change to American health care in history. More people will be covered, changes to Medicare will help cut the long term debt, and on a personal note I will be covered by Mom’s insurance policy until I’m 26 years old and that makes me really happy.
A quick list of other accomplishments: saving General Motors and returning it to private hands, student loan reform which will save students thousands, Wall Street reform which will end tax-payer bailouts, credit card reform, and a renewed effort in Afghanistan with every indication that American withdrawal from that country is fast approaching.
So has President Obama been able to bring change to Washington? I think so. He described change throughout that campaign as taking the responsibility to deal with the big issues that our country was facing. And that’s exactly what this President and Congress have done.
Photo information: Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/Wikimedia Commons