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Sat Dec 17, 2011, 06:29 PM

The Case for Obama...a truly historic presidency [View all]

The Case for Obama
The charges are familiar: He's a compromiser who hasn't stood up to the GOP or Wall Street. But a look at his record reveals something even more startling — a truly historic presidency

By Tim Dickinson
October 13, 2010

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But such selective indictments — legitimate and troubling in many of their particulars — grossly distort the sweep of the 44th presidency...From the outset, it was inevitable that Obama's transcendent campaign would give way to an earthbound presidency — one constrained by two wars, an economy in free fall and an opposition party bent on obstruction at any price. "Expectations were so sky-high for him that they were impossible to fulfill," says presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. "Obama's partly to blame for this: People were expecting a progressive revolution. What the president has delivered instead is gritty, nuts-and-bolts, political legislative work — and it's been rough."

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This bloodless, if effective, approach to governance has created a perilous disconnect: By any rational measure, Obama is the most accomplished and progressive president in decades, yet the only Americans fired up by the changes he has delivered are Republicans and Tea Partiers hellbent on reversing them. Heading into the November elections, Obama's approval ratings are mired in the mid-40s, and polls reflect a stark enthusiasm gap: Half of all Republicans are "very" excited about voting this fall, compared to just a quarter of Democrats. "Republicans have succeeded in making even the president's victories look distasteful, messy — and seem like bad policy steps or defeats," says Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "Many on the left have expressed nothing but anger, frustration and disappointment."

<...>

In fact, when the history of this administration is written, Obama's opening act is likely to be judged as more impressive than any president's — Democrat or Republican — since the mid-1960s. "If you're looking at the first-two-year legislative record," says Ornstein, "you really don't have any rivals since Lyndon Johnson — and that includes Ronald Reagan."

<...>

Taken together, Barack Obama's achievements are not only historic in their sweep but unabashedly liberal. By contrast, President Clinton's top legislative victories — NAFTA and welfare reform — catered to the right wing's faith in free markets and its loathing of big government. "When you add them all together, it's clear that Obama's accomplishments have been underrated," says Brinkley. "Saving the auto industry, health care, getting out of Iraq — these are big things for the progressive movement."

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-case-for-obama-20101013#ixzz1gpTaarxi


And that was before repealing DADT, signing the START treaty, getting Osama bin Laden and ending the Iraq war.

Still, let's look at one policy enacted in early 2010: health care reform, which AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka described as "a goal of the labor movement since the 19th century"
http://www.aflcio.org/mediacenter/prsptm/sp06032010.cfm

Since the health care reform was signed into law, Republicans have been relentless in trying to repeal it.

Why Republicans are So Intent on Killing Health Care Reform

by Richard Kirsch

It’s not just about expanded care. It’s about proving our government can be a force for the common good.

Why are John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell so intent on stopping health care reform from ever taking hold? For the same reason that Republicans and the corporate Right spent more than $200 million in the last year to demonize health care in swing Congressional districts. It wasn’t just about trying to stop the bill from becoming law or taking over Congress. It is because health reform, if it takes hold, will create a bond between the American people and government, just as Social Security and Medicare have done. Democrats, and all those who believe that government has a positive place in our lives, should remember how much is at stake as Republicans and corporate elites try to use their electoral victory to dismantle the new health care law.

<...>

There’s nothing new here. Throughout American history, health care reform has been attacked as socialist. An editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 1932, just after FDR’s election, claimed that proposals for compulsory insurance “were socialism and communism — inciting to revolution.” The PR firm that the American Medical Association hired to fight Truman’s push for national health insurance succeeded in popularizing a completely concocted quote that it attributed to Vladimir Lenin: “Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the Socialist State.”

<...>

The Right has always understood how high the American view of the role of government would be lifted if people came to rely on government for something as essential to a person’s well-being as health care. This year, the animus that the Right maintains toward the New Deal and Great Society programs and philosophy — Social Security, Medicare, the constitution allowing the federal public to regulate commerce — has become visible in the Tea Party movement. The last thing that the corporate and ideological Right want is for health care to be a new pillar added to the foundation of government social insurance.

http://www.newdeal20.org/2010/11/08/why-republicans-are-so-intent-on-killing-health-care-reform-26298/


The health care law is still being implemented and the benefits are adding up, everything from banning the practice of denying coverage to those with a pre-existing condition to providing a path to single payer.

Low-income state workers begin to gain access to Children’s Health Insurance Program
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/2011/11/04/gIQAeDvotM_story.html

New Data: Obamacare Extended Health Coverage To At Least 2.5 Million Young Adults
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2011/12/14/389000/new-data-obamacare-extends-health-coverage-to-25-million-young-adults/

HHS announces record number of National Health Service Corps members
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hhs-announces-record-number-of-national-health-service-corps-members-2011-10-13

Rate Review: Cutting Costs for Consumers and Small Businesses – Chapter One
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/10/13/rate-review-cutting-costs-consumers-and-small-businesses-chapter-one

Reducing costs, protecting consumers: The Affordable Care Act on the one year anniversary of the Patient’s Bill of Rights
http:// www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/09/20110923a.html

New Report Finds Vermont Could Save As Much As $1.8 Billion By 2020 From Shifting To Single Payer
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2011/11/02/359157/vermont-save-billion-by-2020-single-payer/

Vt. gets $18M for health exchange
http://www.pnhp.org/news/2011/december/vt-gets-18m-for-health-exchanges

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer Will Seek Health Care Law Waiver To Establish Single Payer In His State
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2011/09/29/332031/montana-governor-waiver-for-single-payer/

Whether it's saving the auto industry, ending DADT (which effectively ended the problem that gave rise to the policy: the ban on gays serving openly in the military), strengthening labor and environmental policies, helping low income communities and families, targeting homelessness, establishing the CFPB and other reforms, more than most Presidents, the policies implemented by President Obama will have a lasting positive impact on real families for generations.

Oh, and here is a must-read floor speech on the stimulus:

Senator Franken: The importance of the Reocovery Act

Another vital component of the Recovery Act that is often overlooked is its expanded funding for unemployment insurance that helped keep 3.3 million people, including 1 million children, out of poverty in 2009. Another overlooked but critical program in the Recovery Act is the funding for Head Start. The $2 billion allocation preserved Head Start and Early Head Start programming for 64,000 children across the country-over 900 in Minnesota alone. These programs are helping the most vulnerable kids in our communities.

It's simple-economic analysis suggests that the Recovery Act boosted demand, created millions of jobs, kept families in their homes, and helped the economy start growing again.

Let me tell you what I love about being a Senator. As opposed to being a candidate for Senate. I think most of my colleagues can relate to this. When you're a candidate, you're speaking mainly to your own party. When you're trying to get the nomination, when you're getting out the vote. But as a Senator, you talk to everyone. I travel all over the state of Minnesota and meet with mayors and city council members, and county commissioners, and small businesses.

And everywhere I go, they thank me for the Recovery Act. They thank me for the teachers and firefighters, for the Workforce Investment Act funds, which they used to train people for jobs. For the highway extension or the wastewater plant or the funds for rural broadband or for weatherization of public buildings.

In fact, Michael Gunwald, writing for Time Magazine, said this: "the Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in history, converting the Energy Department into the world's largest venture-capital fund. It's pouring $90 billion into clean energy, including unprecedented investments in a smart grid; energy efficiency; electric cars; renewable power from the sun, wind and earth; cleaner coal; advanced biofuels; and factories to manufacture green stuff in the U.S. The act will also triple the number of smart electric meters in our homes, quadruple the number of hybrids in the federal auto fleet and finance far-out energy research through a new government incubator modeled after the Pentagon agency that fathered the Internet."

http://franken.senate.gov/?p=news&id=1110

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