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.


Obama’s $2 Billion Deposit On A Green Economy

July 4, 2010

Using some of the remaining stimulus funds, President Obama is allocating $2 billion to be used for solar plant construction. It is a great program and my only qualm is that it should be significantly expanded so we can truly create a green economy and green energy production, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

The funds are slated to go to a power plant project by Abengoa Solar in Arizona and projects by Abound Solar Manufacturing in Colorado and Indiana. The Arizona project is projected to create 1,600 construction jobs. The Colorado and Indiana projects are projected to create 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.

Using the Arizona project as an example, “70 percent of the components and products used in construction will be manufactured in the United States” and this will have a positive effect throughout the supply chain. In the end, the Arizona project will produce enough power to light up 70,000 homes.

This is merely a microcosm of what we could be doing… Read the rest of this entry »

Obama’s Proposed Education Funding & Pay-As-You-Go

June 20, 2010

Recently, President Obama has been urging Congress to pass legislation that will provide $50 billion in aid to the states to fill budget gaps related to education/teachers, health care, and emergency personnel such as police and firefighters. Specifically, the legislation includes “$23 billion to help prevent teacher layoffs, $25 billion for state healthcare aid and $2 billion for cops and firefighters.”

The idea is simple. Without the aid, states will be forced to cut jobs and services in these areas, increase deficits, raise taxes, or a combination of these. Regardless of the outcome, it will have a disastrous effect on states already struggling to make ends meet while reviving their economy.

The plan, however, is meeting resistance from both parties, particularly from Republicans. Some Democrats, such as Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have asked Obama to consider using unallocated funds from last year’s stimulus bill. Republicans are pointing to the fact that Democrats are not abiding by their own Pay-Go (Pay-As-You-Go) legislation which requires new spending to be paid for by cutting spending or raising taxes.

Read the rest of this entry »