Policy of Barack Obama
Brief biography of the American president Barack Obama, the main stages of its formation and personal career growth. Presidential race and election victory. Pillars of the internal policy of the new president, its features and performance evaluation.
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internal policy president obama
Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States.
His story is the American story - values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others.
With a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, President Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. He was raised with help from his grandfather, who served in Patton's army, and his grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management at a bank.
After working his way through college with the help of scholarships and student loans, President Obama moved to Chicago, where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants.
He went on to attend law school, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Upon graduation, he returned to Chicago to help lead a voter registration drive, teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and remain active in his community.
President Obama's years of public service are based around his unwavering belief in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose. In the Illinois State Senate, he passed the first major ethics reform in 25 years, cut taxes for working families, and expanded health care for children and their parents. As a United States Senator, he reached across the aisle to pass groundbreaking lobbying reform, lock up the world's most dangerous weapons, and bring transparency to government by putting federal spending online.
He was elected the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, and sworn in on January 20, 2009. He and his wife, Michelle, are the proud parents of two daughters, Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11.
The course paper is devoted to the problems of policy of Barack Obama. The subject of the study is policy. The object of the research is life of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States.
The main purpose of the course paper is consider, domestic and foreign policies of Barack Obama. The following objectives are set up research the information about his life.
The topicality of the theme of this course paper is determined by policy of Barack Obama, which is very important for students studying foreign languages, especially English and also to be qualified teachers.
The novelty of the research lies in the fact that Barack Obama is the first African-American president of the United States. He became president at a difficult time for America (in times of crisis).
The course paper consists of 2 parts. Chapter 1 describes life of Barack Obama. In chapter 2 attention is given to policy pursued by Barack Obama.
1. Barack Obama
1.1 Barack Obama: Breaking New Ground
The Democratic candidate for president brings youth, eloquence, and a compelling personal history to the 2008 campaign. Obama captured his party's nomination by advocating change in U.S. policy, both foreign and domestic.
Freelance writer Domenick DiPasquale is a former foreign service officer who served in Ghama, Kenya, Brazil, Bosnia, Singapore, and Slovenia.
Barack Obama's unique biography and successful campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination have opened a new chapter in U.S. politics.
Obama, the first African-American presidential candidate to win the nomination of a major U.S. political party, brings a life story unlike that of any previous nominee. The biracial son of a Kenyan father and a white mother from the American heartland, Obama shot to national prominence with his well-received keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, the same year he was elected to the U.S. Senate from the state of Illinois. Just four years later, he rose to the top of a field crowded with Democratic heavyweights to clinch his party's nomination for the White House.
With a polished speaking style, a command of eloquent and uplifting rhetoric, the ability to inspire the enthusiasm of young voters, and the sophisticated use of the Internet as a campaign tool, Obama is very much a 21st-century candidate. Yet he has demonstrated the timeless skills common to all campaigns, including the ability to effectively wage old-fashioned political trench warfare as he ground through a long and sometimes divisive five-month primary season to defeat his chief opponent, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In his campaign, Obama stressed two overarching themes: changing Washington's traditional way of conducting the nation's business and invoking Americans of diverse ideological, social, and racial backgrounds to unite for the common good.
«There's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's The United States of America», Obama said in his address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. «There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. … We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America».
1.2 The Early Years
Obama's parents came from vastly different backgrounds. His mother, Ann Dunham, was born and raised in small-town Kansas. After her family moved to the Hawaiian Islands, she met Barack Obama Sr., a Kenyan scholarship student enrolled at the University of Hawaii. The two married in 1959, and on August 4, 1961, Barack Obama Jr. was born in Honolulu. Two years later the senior Obama left his new family, first for graduate study at Harvard and then for a job as a government economist back in Kenya. The young Obama met his father again only once, at age 10.
When Obama was six, his mother remarried, this time to an Indonesian oil executive. The family moved to Indonesia, and Obama spent four years attending school in the capital city of Jakarta. He eventually returned to Hawaii and went to high school there while living with his maternal grandparents.
In his first book, Dreams From My Father, Obama describes this period of his life as having more than the usual share of adolescent turmoil, as he struggled to make sense of a biracial heritage then still relatively uncommon in the United States. Being rooted in both black culture and white culture may have helped give Obama the expansive vision he brought to politics years later, one that understands both points of view.
«Barack has an incredible ability to synthesize seemingly contradictory realities and make them coherent,» his law school classmate Cassandra Butts told New Yorker magazine writer Larissa MacFarquhar. «It comes from going from a home where white people are nurturing you, and then you go out into the world and you're seen as a black person.»
Obama left Hawaii once more to attend Occidental College in Los Angles for two years. He later moved to New York City and earned a bachelor of arts degree from Columbia University in 1983. In a commencement address, Obama described his thinking at that time: «…by the time I graduated from college, I was possessed with a crazy idea - that I would work at a grassroots level to bring about change.»
1.3 Called to Public Service
In search of his identity and a purposeful direction in life, Obama subsequently left his job as a financial writer with an international consulting firm in New York and headed to Chicago in 1985. There, he worked as a community organizer for a coalition of local churches on the city's South Side, a poor African-American area hard hit by the transition from a manufacturing center to a service-based economy.
«It was in these neighborhoods that I received the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith,» Obama recounted years later in the speech announcing his presidential candidacy.
Obama enjoyed some tangible successes in this work, giving South Side residents a voice in such issues as economic redevelopment, job training, and environmental clean-up efforts. He viewed his primary role as a community organizer, however, as that of a catalyst mobilizing ordinary citizens in a bottom-up effort to forge indigenous strategies for political and economic empowerment.
After three years of such work, Obama concluded that to bring about true improvement in such distressed communities required involvement at a higher level, in the realm of law and politics. Accordingly, he attended Harvard Law School, where he distinguished himself by being elected the first black president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review and graduating magna cum laude in 1991.
With these credentials, «Obama could have done anything he wanted,» noted David Axelrod, now his presidential campaign strategist. Obama returned to his adopted hometown of Chicago, where he practiced civil rights law and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. In 1992 he married Michelle Robinson, another Harvard Law graduate, and worked on voter registration in Chicago to help Democratic candidates such as Bill Clinton.
With a continuing strong commitment to public service, Obama decided to make his first run at elective office in 1996, winning a seat from Chicago in the Illinois state senate. In many ways the race was a logical progression of his earlier work as a community organizer, and Obama brought much of that same expansive outlook - the politician as an enabler of citizen-directed grassroots efforts and a builder of broad - based coalitions - to his vision of politics.
«Any African Americans who are only talking about racism as a barrier to our success are seriously misled if they don't also come to grips with the larger economic forces that are creating economic insecurity for all workers - whites, Latinos, and Asians,» he said at the time. Among his legislative accomplishments over the next eight years in the state senate were campaign finance reform, tax cuts for the working poor, and improvements to the state's criminal justice system.
1.4 The National Stage
In 2000 Obama made his first run for the U.S. Congress, unsuccessfully challenging Bobby Rush, an incumbent Democrat from Chicago, for Rush's seat in the House of Representatives. Dispirited by his lopsided primary loss to Rush and searching for influence beyond the Illinois state legislature, he sold Michelle on the idea of his running for the U.S. Senate in a last-shot «up or out strategy» to advance his political career.
The 2004 U.S. Senate race in Illinois had turned into a free-for-all the year before, when the Republican incumbent, Peter Fitzgerald, announced he would not seek reelection. Seven Democrats and eight Republicans contested their respective party's primary for the senatorial nomination. Obama easily captured the Democratic nomination, winning a greater share of the vote - 53 percent - than his six opponents combined.
With the Republicans then holding the 100-member U.S. Senate by a razor-thin majority of 51 seats, Democrats saw the senatorial contest in Illinois as critical to their chances of retaking the Senate that November (in fact, they only regained control in 2006). The desire to give Obama's campaign a boost through a prominent role, the well-known oratory skills Obama possessed, and the very favorable impression he already had made on Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry clinched the decision to select Obama as the convention's keynote speaker.
Obama's speech, with its soaring, polished language on the need to transcend partisan divisions and its call for a «politics of hope» rather than a politics of cynicism, did more than rouse convention-goers; it catapulted Obama into the national media spotlight as a rising star of the Democratic Party. He went on to win handily in the Senate race that autumn, capturing an overwhelming 70 percent of the popular vote. Although the near-total disarray that year among Republicans in Illinois undoubtedly contributed to the landslide margin, Obama's victory was impressive in its own right, as he won in 93 of the state's 102 counties and captured white voters by better than a two-to-one margin.
Obama's reputation as a new breed of politician, one able to overcome traditional racial divides grew steadily. In a New Yorker profile of Obama, writer William Finnegan, nothing Obama's talent at «slipping subtly into the idiom of his interlocutor, '' said Obama «speaks a full range of American vernaculars.» Obama offered his own explanation why he could connect with white voters.
«I know these people,» he said. «Those are my grandparents. … Their manners, their sensibilities, their sense of right and wrong - it's all totally familiar to me.»
In the Senate, Obama amassed a voting record in line with that of the Democratic Party's liberal wing. His criticism of the war in Iraq has been one of his trademarks, dating back to a speech in 2002, even before the war started, when he warned that any such military action would be based «not on principle but on politics.» He also has worked to strengthen ethical standards in Congress, improve care for military veterans, and increase use of renewable fuels.
1.5 Running for President
The long Democratic primary election campaign of 2008, with elections or caucuses in all 50 states, was historic in several ways. African-American and women candidates had run for the presidency before, but this time the two front-runners were a woman and an African American. As Obama and seven other contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination began to organize in 2007, opinion polls consistently put Obama in second place behind the presumed favorite, New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Obama, however, was highly successful in this early stage of the race at enlisting an enthusiastic cadre of supporters, especially among youth, establishing a nationwide grassroots campaign organization, and fundraising through the Internet.
With Clinton enjoying greater name recognition, a well-oiled campaign machine, and support at the state level leading Democrats, the Obama camp devised an innovative strategy to negate these advantages: targeting states that used causes rather than primaries to select delegates and focusing on smaller states that traditionally voted Republican in the general election. This approach capitalized on the Democratic Party's system of proportional representation - awarding convention delegates in each state in rough proportion to a candidate's share of the vote - as opposed to the Republican's system of awarding most or all convention delegates to the winner in each state.
The strategy paid off with the first-in-the-nation Iowa causes on January 3, 2008, when Obama scored an upset victory over Clinton. The Iowa win was a game-changer; as the Washington Post put it, «Beating Clinton … altered the course of the race by establishing Obama as her chief rival - the only candidate with the message, organizational muscle, and financial resources to challenge her front-runner status.»
It paid off once more on «Super Tuesday» - the elections held simultaneously in 22 states on February 5 - when Obama dueled Clinton to a tie and swept rural states in the West and South. And it paid off yet again when Obama went on to win 10 more consecutive contests in February, cementing a lead in delegates Clinton never again could catch.
Finally, on June 3, exactly five months after the contest began, the exhausting race was over. The combination of a victory in Montana and growing support from previously uncommitted super-delegates gave Obama the majority of delegates needed to clinch the presidential nomination.
«Because you chose not to listen to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations,» Obama told supporters that evening at a victory rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, «tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another.»
1.6 An Obama Presidency
If elected, Obama would be one of the youngest presidents. Born at the tail end of the 1946-1964 baby boom generation, he also would be the first president to have come of age in the 1980s, which of itself might portend change. The atmosphere in which he grew up was markedly different from the socially tumultuous 1960s that shaped earlier baby boomer's outlook. As Obama once said about the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, contested by candidates from a much earlier cohort of that postwar generation, «I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the baby boom generation - a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago - played out on the national stage.»
Obama's «Change We Can Believe In» and «Change We Need» slogans reflect his campaign's emphasis on taking the United States in a new direction. Obama has advocated a steady timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq, although he would leave some for training and antiterrorism missions. Other foreign policy positions include increasing U.S. military and development assistance to Afghanistan, closing the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorism detainees, and strengthening nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Domestically, Obama wants to invest 150 billion dollars over 10 years to spur development of clean energy technology, increase investment in education and infrastructure to make the U.S. economy more globally competitive, and restore fiscal discipline to government spending.
The New Yorker's Larissa MacFarquhar offered one theory on Obama's noticeable appeal across traditional political lines. «Obama's voting record is one of the most liberal in the Senate,» she observed, «but he has always appealed to Republicans, perhaps because he speaks about liberal goals in conservative language.»
«In his view of history, in his respect for tradition, in his skepticism that the world can be changed any way but very, very slowly,» she wrote, «Obama is deeply conservative.
Win or lose in November, Obama has broken new ground in U.S. politics. His candidacy came at precisely the time when many Americans believed their country needed a fundamental transformation in its direction. Washington Post political columnist E.J. Dionne may have summed up perfectly the serendipitous confluence between Obama's candidacy and the American zeitgeist when he wrote:
Change, not experience, was the order of the day. Sweep, not a mastery of detail, was the virtue most valued in campaign oratory. A clean break with the past, not merely a return to better days, was the promise most prized.
1.7 Barack Obama's Vision for the Future
Excerpts from «The American Moment,» Remarks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, April 23, 2007
I believe that the single most important job of any President is to protect the American people. And I am equally convinced that doing that job effectively in the 21st century will require a new vision of American leadership and a new conception of our national security - a vision that draws from the lessons of the past, but is not bound by outdated thinking.
In today's globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people. When narco-trafficking and corruption threaten democracy in Latin America, it's America's problem too. When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern. When religious schools in Pakistan teach hatred to young children, our children are threatened as well.
Whether it's global terrorism or pandemic disease, dramatic climate change or the proliferation of weapons of mass annihilation, the threats we face at the dawn of the 21st century can no longer be contained by borders and boundaries.
Many Americans may find it tempting to turn inward, and cede our claim of leader-ship in world affairs.
I insist, however, that such an abandonment of our leadership is a mistake we must not make. America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We must neither retreat from the world not try bully it into submission - we must lead the world, by deed and example.
We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people. We must lead by marshaling a global effort to stop the spread of the world's most dangerous weapons. We must lead by building and strengthening the partnerships and all lances necessary to meet our common challenges and defeat our common threats.
And America must lead by reaching out to all those living disconnected lives of despair in the world's forgotten corners - because while there will always be those who succumb to hate and strap bombs to their bodies, there are millions more who want to take another patch - who want our beacon of hope to shine its light their way.
America is the country that helped liberate a continent from the march of a madman. We are the country that told the brave people of a divided city that we were Berliners too. We sent generations of young people to serve as ambassadors for peace in countries all over the world. And we're the country that rushed aid throughout Asia for the victims of a devastating tsunami.
Now it's our moment to lead - our generation's time to tell another great American story. So someday we can tell our children that this was the time when we helped forge peace in the Middle East. That this was the time when we confronted climate change and secured the weapons that could destroy the human race. This was the time when we brought opportunity to those forgotten corners of the world. And this was the time when we renewed the America that has led generations of weary travelers from all over the world to find opportunity, and liberty, and hope on our doorstep.
2. Policy of Barack Obama
2.1 First days
The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President took place on January 20, 2009. In his first few days in office, Obama issued executive orders and presidential memoranda directing the U.S. military to develop plans to withdraw troops from Iraq. He ordered the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but Congress prevented the closure by refusing to appropriate the required funds and preventing moving any Guantanamo detainee into the U.S. or to other countries. Obama reduced the secrecy given to presidential records. He also revoked President George W. Bush's restoration of President Ronald Reagan's Mexico City Policy prohibiting federal aid to international family planning organizations that perform or provide counseling about abortion.
2.2 Domestic policy
The first bill signed into law by Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, relaxing the statute of limitations for equal-pay lawsuits. Five days later, he signed the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover an additional 4 million uninsured children. In March 2009, Obama reversed a Bush-era policy which had limited funding of embryonic stem cell research and pledged to develop «strict guidelines» on the research.
Obama appointed two women to serve on the Supreme Court in the first two years of his Presidency. Sonia Sotomayor, nominated by Obama on May 26, 2009, to replace retiring Associate Justice David Souter, was confirmed on August 6, 2009, becoming the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Elena Kagan, nominated by Obama on May 10, 2010, to replace retiring Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, was confirmed on August 5, 2010, bringing the number of women sitting simultaneously on the Court to three, for the first time in American history.
On September 30, 2009, the Obama administration proposed new regulations on power plants, factories and oil refineries in an attempt to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to curb global warming.
On October 8, 2009, Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a measure that expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
On March 30, 2010, Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, a reconciliation bill which ends the process of the federal government giving subsidies to private banks to give out federally insured loans, increases the Pell Grant scholarship award, and makes changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In a major space policy speech in April 2010, Obama announced a planned change in direction at NASA, the U.S. space agency. He ended plans for a return of human spaceflight to the moon and development of the Ares I rocket, Ares V rocket and Constellation program, in favor of funding Earth science projects, a new rocket type, and research and development for an eventual manned mission to Mars, and ongoing missions to the International Space Station.
On December 22, 2010, Obama signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, fulfilling a key promise made in the 2008 presidential campaign to end the Don't ask, don't tell policy of 1993 that had prevented gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the United States Armed Forces.
President Obama's 2011 State of the Union Address focused on themes of education and innovation, stressing the importance of innovation economics to make the United States more competitive globally. He spoke of a five-year freeze in domestic spending, eliminating tax breaks for oil companies and reversing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, banning congressional earmarks, and reducing healthcare costs. He promised that the United States would have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 and would be 80% reliant on «clean» electricity.
As a candidate for the Illinois state senate Obama had said in 1996 that he favored legalizing same-sex marriage; but by the time of his run for the U.S. senate in 2004, he said that while he supported civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex partners, for strategic reasons he opposed same-sex marriages. On May 9, 2012, shortly after the official launch of his campaign for re-election as president, Obama said his views had evolved, and he publicly affirmed his personal support for the legalization of same-sex marriage, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so.
During his second inaugural address on January 21, 2013, Obama called for full equality for gay Americans: «Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.» This was a historic moment, being the first time that a president mentioned gay rights or the word «gay» in an inaugural address. In 2013 the Obama administration filed briefs which urged the Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex couples in the cases of Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor.
On February 17, 2009, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $787 billion economic stimulus package aimed at helping the economy recover from the deepening worldwide recession. The act includes increased federal spending for health care, infrastructure, education, various tax breaks and incentives, and direct assistance to individuals, which is being distributed over the course of several years.
In March, Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, took further steps to manage the financial crisis, including introducing the Public-Private Investment Program for Legacy Assets, which contains provisions for buying up to two trillion dollars in depreciated real estate assets. Obama intervened in the troubled automotive industry in March 2009, renewing loans for General Motors and Chrysler to continue operations while reorganizing. Over the following months the White House set terms for both firms' bankruptcies, including the sale of Chrysler to Italian automaker Fiat and a reorganization of GM giving the U.S. government a temporary 60% equity stake in the company, with the Canadian government taking a 12% stake. In June 2009, dissatisfied with the pace of economic stimulus, Obama called on his cabinet to accelerate the investment. He signed into law the Car Allowance Rebate System, known colloquially as «Cash for Clunkers», that temporarily boosted the economy.
Although spending and loan guarantees from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department authorized by the Bush and Obama administrations totaled about $11.5 trillion, only $3 trillion had been spent by the end of November 2009. However, Obama and the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the 2010 budget deficit will be $1.5 trillion or 10.6% of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion or 9.9% of GDP. For 2011, the administration predicted the deficit will slightly shrink to $1.34 trillion, while the 10-year deficit will increase to $8.53 trillion or 90% of GDP. The most recent increase in the U.S. debt ceiling to $16.4 trillion was signed into law on January 26, 2012. On August 2, 2011, after a lengthy congressional debate over whether to raise the nation's debt limit, Obama signed the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011. The legislation enforces limits on discretionary spending until 2021, establishes a procedure to increase the debt limit, creates a Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to propose further deficit reduction with a stated goal of achieving at least $1.5 trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years, and establishes automatic procedures for reducing spending by as much as $1.2 trillion if legislation originating with the new joint select committee does not achieve such savings. By passing the legislation, Congress was able to prevent a U.S. government default on its obligations.
As it did throughout 2008, the unemployment rate rose in 2009, reaching a peak in October at 10.0% and averaging 10.0% in the fourth quarter. Following a decrease to 9.7% in the first quarter of 2010, the unemployment rate fell to 9.6% in the second quarter, where it remained for the rest of the year. Between February and December 2010, employment rose by 0.8%, which was less than the average of 1.9% experienced during comparable periods in the past four employment recoveries. By November 2012, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%, changing little in April 2013 to 7.5%. GDP growth returned in the third quarter of 2009, expanding at a rate of 1.6%, followed by a 5.0% increase in the fourth quarter. Growth continued in 2010, posting an increase of 3.7% in the first quarter, with lesser gains throughout the rest of the year. In July 2010, the Federal Reserve expressed that although economic activity continued to increase, its pace had slowed, and Chairman Ben Bernanke stated that the economic outlook was «unusually uncertain». Overall, the economy expanded at a rate of 2.9% in 2010.
The Congressional Budget Office and a broad range of economists credit Obama's stimulus plan for economic growth. The CBO released a report stating that the stimulus bill increased employment by 1-2.1 million, while conceding that «It is impossible to determine how many of the reported jobs would have existed in the absence of the stimulus package.» Although an April 2010 survey of members of the National Association for Business Economics showed an increase in job creation (over a similar January survey) for the first time in two years, 73% of 68 respondents believed that the stimulus bill has had no impact on employment.
Within a month of the 2010 midterm elections, Obama announced a compromise deal with the Congressional Republican leadership that included a temporary, two-year extension of the 2001 and 2003 income tax rates, a one-year payroll tax reduction, continuation of unemployment benefits, and a new rate and exemption amount for estate taxes. The compromise overcame opposition from some in both parties, and the resulting $858 billion Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress before Obama signed it on December 17, 2010.
Health care reform
Obama called for Congress to pass legislation reforming health care in the United States, a key campaign promise and a top legislative goal. He proposed an expansion of health insurance coverage to cover the uninsured, to cap premium increases, and to allow people to retain their coverage when they leave or change jobs. His proposal was to spend $900 billion over 10 years and include a government insurance plan, also known as the public option, to compete with the corporate insurance sector as a main component to lowering costs and improving quality of health care. It would also make it illegal for insurers to drop sick people or deny them coverage for pre-existing conditions, and require every American to carry health coverage. The plan also includes medical spending cuts and taxes on insurance companies that offer expensive plans.
On July 14, 2009, House Democratic leaders introduced a 1,017-page plan for overhauling the U.S. health care system, which Obama wanted Congress to approve by the end of 2009. After much public debate during the Congressional summer recess of 2009, Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 9 where he addressed concerns over the proposals. In March 2009, Obama lifted a ban on using federal funds for stem cell research.
On November 7, 2009, a health care bill featuring the public option was passed in the House. On December 24, 2009, the Senate passed its own bill-without a public option-on a party-line vote of 60-39. On March 21, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by the Senate in December was passed in the House by a vote of 219 to 212. Obama signed the bill into law on March 23, 2010.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes health-related provisions to take effect over four years, including expanding Medicaid eligibility for people making up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL) starting in 2014, subsidizing insurance premiums for people making up to 400% of the FPL ($88,000 for family of four in 2010) so their maximum «out-of-pocket» payment for annual premiums will be from 2 to 9.5% of income, providing incentives for businesses to provide health care benefits, prohibiting denial of coverage and denial of claims based on pre-existing conditions, establishing health insurance exchanges, prohibiting annual coverage caps, and support for medical research. According to White House and Congressional Budget Office figures, the maximum share of income that enrollees would have to pay would vary depending on their income relative to the federal poverty level.
The costs of these provisions are offset by taxes, fees, and cost-saving measures, such as new Medicare taxes for those in high-income brackets, taxes on indoor tanning, cuts to the Medicare Advantage program in favor of traditional Medicare, and fees on medical devices and pharmaceutical companies; there is also a tax penalty for those who do not obtain health insurance, unless they are exempt due to low income or other reasons. In March 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the net effect of both laws will be a reduction in the federal deficit by $143 billion over the first decade.
The law faced several legal challenges, primarily based on the argument that an individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance was unconstitutional. On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius that the Commerce Clause does not allow the government to require people to buy health insurance, but the mandate was constitutional under the US Congress's taxing authority.
Gulf of Mexico oil spill
On April 20, 2010, an explosion destroyed an offshore drilling rig at the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, causing a major sustained oil leak. The well's operator, BP, initiated a containment and cleanup plan, and began drilling two relief wells intended to stop the flow. Obama visited the Gulf on May 2 among visits by members of his cabinet, and again on May 28 and June 4. On May 22, he announced a federal investigation and formed a bipartisan commission to recommend new safety standards, after a review by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and concurrent Congressional hearings. On May 27, he announced a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling permits and leases, pending regulatory review. As multiple efforts by BP failed, some in the media and public expressed confusion and criticism over various aspects of the incident, and stated a desire for more involvement by Obama and the federal government.
On January 16, 2013, one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, President Obama signed 23 executive orders and outlined a series of sweeping proposals regarding gun control. He urged Congress to reintroduce an expired ban on «military-style» assault weapons, such as those used in several recent mass shootings, impose limits on ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, introduce background checks on all gun sales, pass a ban on possession and sale of armor-piercing bullets, introduce harsher penalties for gun-traffickers, especially unlicensed dealers who buy arms for criminals and approving the appointment of the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the first time since 2006.
2.3 2010 midterm election
Obama called the November 2, 2010 election, where the Democratic Party lost 63 seats in, and control of, the House of Representatives, «humbling» and a «shellacking». He said that the results came because not enough Americans had felt the effects of the economic recovery.
2.4 Foreign policy
In February and March 2009, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made separate overseas trips to announce a «new era» in U.S. foreign relations with Russia and Europe, using the terms «break» and «reset» to signal major changes from the policies of the preceding administration. Obama attempted to reach out to Arab leaders by granting his first interview to an Arab cable TV network, Al Arabiya.
On March 19, Obama continued his outreach to the Muslim world, releasing a New Year's video message to the people and government of Iran. This attempt was rebuffed by the Iranian leadership. In April, Obama gave a speech in Ankara, Turkey, which was well received by many Arab governments. On June 4, 2009, Obama delivered a speech at Cairo University in Egypt calling for «a new beginning» in relations between the Islamic world and the United States and promoting Middle East peace.
On June 26, 2009, in response to the Iranian government's actions towards protesters following Iran's 2009 presidential election, Obama said: «The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous. We see it and we condemn it.» On July 7, while in Moscow, he responded to a Vice President Biden comment on a possible Israeli military strike on Iran by saying: «We have said directly to the Israelis that it is important to try and resolve this in an international setting in a way that does not create major conflict in the Middle East.»
On September 24, 2009, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to preside over a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
In March 2010, Obama took a public stance against plans by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to continue building Jewish housing projects in predominantly Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. During the same month, an agreement was reached with the administration of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with a new pact reducing the number of long-range nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both countries by about one-third. Obama and Medvedev signed the New START treaty in April 2010, and the U.S. Senate ratified it in December 2010.
On December 6, 2011, he instructed agencies to consider LGBT rights when issuing financial aid to foreign countries.
On February 27, 2009, Obama announced that combat operations in Iraq would end within 18 months. His remarks were made to a group of Marines preparing for deployment to Afghanistan. Obama said, «Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.» The Obama administration scheduled the withdrawal of combat troops to be completed by August 2010, decreasing troop's levels from 142,000 while leaving a transitional force of about 50,000 in Iraq until the end of 2011. On August 19, 2010, the last U.S. combat brigade exited Iraq. Remaining troops transitioned from combat operations to counter-terrorism and the training, equipping, and advising of Iraqi security forces. On August 31, 2010, Obama announced that the United States combat mission in Iraq was over. On October 21, 2011 President Obama announced that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq in time to be «home for the holidays».
War in Afghanistan
Early in his presidency, Obama moved to bolster U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan. He announced an increase to U.S. troop levels of 17,000 in February 2009 to «stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan», an area he said had not received the «strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires». He replaced the military commander in Afghanistan, General David D. McKiernan, with former Special Forces commander Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal in May 2009, indicating that McChrystal's Special Forces experience would facilitate the use of counterinsurgency tactics in the war. On December 1, 2009, Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 military personnel to Afghanistan and proposed to begin troop withdrawals 18 months from that date; this took place in July 2011. David Petraeus replaced McChrystal in June 2010, after McChrystal's staff criticized White House personnel in a magazine article. In February 2013 Obama said the U.S. military would reduce the troop level in Afghanistan from 68,000 to 34,000 US troops by February 2014.
Obama referred to the bond between the United States and Israel as «unbreakable.» During the initial years of the Obama administration, the U.S. increased military cooperation with Israel, including increased military aid, re-establishment of the U.S.-Israeli Joint Political Military Group and the Defense Policy Advisory Group, and an increase in visits among high-level military officials of both countries. The Obama administration asked Congress to allocate money toward funding the Iron Dome program in response to the waves of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.
In 2011, the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, with the United States being the only nation to do so. Obama supports the two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the 1967 borders with land swaps.
In 2013, one journalist reported that, in Obama's view, «with each new settlement announcement, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.»
War in Libya
In March 2011, as forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi advanced on rebels across Libya, calls for a no-fly zone came from around the world, including Europe, the Arab League, and a resolution passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. In response to the unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 on March 17, Gaddafi-who had previously vowed to «show no mercy» to the rebels of Benghazi-announced an immediate cessation of military activities, yet reports came in that his forces continued shelling Misrata. The next day, on Obama's orders, the U.S. military took part in air strikes to destroy the Libyan government's air defense capabilities to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly-zone, including the use of Tomahawk missiles, B-2 Spirits, and fighter jets. Six days later, on March 25, by unanimous vote of all of its 28 members, NATO took over leadership of the effort, dubbed Operation Unified Protector. Some Representatives questioned whether Obama had the constitutional authority to order military action in addition to questioning its cost, structure and aftermath.
Osama bin Laden
Starting with information received in July 2010, intelligence developed by the CIA over the next several months determined what they believed to be the location of Osama bin Laden in a large compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a suburban area 35 miles from Islamabad. CIA head Leon Panetta reported this intelligence to President Obama in March 2011. Meeting with his national security advisers over the course of the next six weeks, Obama rejected a plan to bomb the compound, and authorized a «surgical raid» to be conducted by United States Navy SEALs. The operation took place on May 1, 2011, resulting in the death of bin Laden and the seizure of papers, computer drives and disks from the compound. DNA testing identified bin Laden's body, which was buried at sea several hours later. Within minutes of the President's announcement from Washington, DC, late in the evening on May 1, there were spontaneous celebrations around the country as crowds gathered outside the White House, and at New York City's Ground Zero and Times Square. Reaction to the announcement was positive across party lines, including from former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and from many countries around the world.
Barack Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States, the first African American to hold the office. On November 6, 2012, Obama won 332 electoral votes, exceeding the 270 required for him to be re-elected as president. In conclusion, as of today, the economy has failed to resume robust economic growth predominantly due to President Barack Obama's healthcare, energy, and taxation policies. Though there must be a careful balance between stimulating the economy or taking care of people and protecting the environment, sensible policies can better achieve this balance. Obama has resulted in both uncertainty and increased costs for employers, while actually increasing the cost of healthcare. President Obama's energy policies have doubled the price of gasoline since he took office, in addition to reducing job opportunities through refusing to ease regulations to construct pipelines and oil rigs. Lastly, the President's taxation policies have resulted in people having less money in their pockets, which reduces their confidence as a consumer to make purchases, which is a huge driver of the economy. Thus, the main goals set in the given course paper can be considered achieved.
1. «President Barack Obama». Washington, D.C.: The White House. 2008. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
2. Dupuis, Martian and Keith Boeckelman. Barack Obama, the New Face of American Politics. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008.
3. Price, Joann F. Barack Obama: A Biography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008
4. Street, Paul L. Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Published, 2008.
5. Herszenhorn, David M.; Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (December 7, 2010). «Democrats Skeptical of Obama on New Tax Plan». The New York Times.
6. «Obama calls for Congress to face health care challenge». CNN. September 9, 2009. Archived from the original on September 10, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
7. «Policies to Improve Affordability and Accountability». The White House. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
8. «World wants Obama as president: poll». ABC News. Reuters. September 9, 2008.
9. Scherer, Michael (2012). 2012 Person of the Year: Barack Obama, the President - TIME. Published December 19, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
10. Davis, William. Barack Obama: The Politics of Hope. Stockton, NJ: OTTN Pub., 2008.
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