President Obama’s First 18 Months

July 18, 2010

The economy is on a mini rollercoaster ride and the federal budget is in dire straits. These problems cannot be swept under the rug. Nonetheless, Obama’s first 18 months have been more productive than any president since President Johnson.

A few of his accomplishments are particularly noteworthy. First his signing of the economic stimulus package gave the economy a much needed shot in the arm. Those on both sides of the aisle agree that at the very least, the stimulus – legislation of a magnitude rarely seen since President Roosevelt – kept the bottom from dropping out of the economy.

As everyone hopefully knows by now, he also passed healthcare reform after more than a year of debate – slow and cautious by any standard despite claims that it was rammed through Congress. The legislation provides protections for consumers against corporate abuse (preexisting conditions, among others) while providing subsidies to individuals and families to enable them to afford healthcare. Despite imperfections, this was no insignificant piece of legislation. This is easily the most significant progress in health insurance since President Johnson’s enactment of Medicare.

Additionally, Obama passed legislation regulating Wall Street – the most substantial effort for corporate accountability arguably since President Roosevelt. A combination of consumer protections and corporate regulations, the legislation is likely to have serious positive effect.

President Obama has also built a rather extensive environmental record ranging from conservation to alternative energy which is music to my ears. Recently, Obama provided a $2 billion investment in a developing a green economy. It’s inevitable that the world will move toward alternative energy and, regardless of one’s views on global warming, it makes little sense to oppose America being at the forefront of that transition.

Further, in just over 18 months Obama will have made two Supreme Court picks both of whom are approximately 50 years old – Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor and soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Kagan. They will likely affect an entire generation of law.

Regardless of one’s views on the issues, there is little doubt President Obama has been very effective in just over a year in office. Obama could have taken the easy road and sought easy issues and legislation, spoken a few key manipulative soundbites, and face a much easier midterm election situation. But rather than hit the ‘Easy Button,’ he has sought challenges and made compromises when necessary without compromising his underlying values. I cannot help but respect that.


President Nixon In The Rear-View Mirror

June 27, 2010

President Nixon had his flaws from ethics to some of his policies. However if one takes a closer look at his accomplishments while in office, they might see a version of President Nixon that is much different than that often portrayed in the media and I suspect President Nixon’s stock will continue to rise slightly over the next couple decades.

President Nixon was a traditional Republican who was progressive on many issues from the environment to health care, but sought proper balance with fiscal responsibility. On the environment, President Nixon signed the landmark Clean Air Act and established both the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency to monitor environmental efforts. In 1971, he proclaimed the first Earth Week.

Presiding over the continuation of the Vietnam War, it is clear President Nixon was not opposed to the use of force. But he seemed to prefer diplomacy as a first resort and notably opened the door to relations with China. Today, Presidents and candidates are criticized for meeting with leaders of nations that do not share our values, but Nixon’s foresight and courage set a precedent for effective diplomacy.

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President Obama: A Better Legislator or Executive?

June 24, 2010

I was inspired by a talk show’s discussion this week on whether President Obama is a better legislator or executive as President thus far. I believe that he’s taken a strong role as a legislator, and struggled as an executive.

Going back through my notes from my American Presidency class, the President has four major functions. (1) Symbol – head of state (2) Policy Advocate (3) Mediator – He’s the only elected official with a national constituency and (4) Crisis Manager. I think he has been weak on two of the four. Read the rest of this entry »

Obama’s Healthcare Reform Review: Republican’s Prospective

June 10, 2010

I often defend and smack around President Obama’s health care reform bill during the same breath. Was there the potential for bipartisan reform? Yes. Did Obama muscle it through, silencing the minority? Yes. President Obama should see how the Missouri Senate Republicans handled the tough issues of session, in which they which could have used the “nuclear option” on several issues. Instead, they compromised with the Democrats.

There are great things in the health insurance bill such as the elimination of lifetime caps on benefits, insurance eligibility for dependents, preexisting conditions. All of these things should be met with open arms. While the health insurance industry hates these provisions, they protect you and I, and are appropriate regulations.

Conceptually, I have no problem with requiring individuals to maintain some sort of health insurance coverage. Do I think it’s the federal government’s job to require this? No. This bill should have required states to pass a law requiring people to obtain some sort of health insurance option and tie Medicaid money to it. This carrot/stick mentality has been done with regards to auto insurance and seat belt requirements, the money being tied to transportation roads.

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