I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t particularly infected with Obama Fever and have been pretty skeptical of him so far. Mainly, the never-ending rhetoric of “hope” and “change” seemed like he was making too many vague promises, too many big promises, without any real chance of being able to follow through on them. (After all, even though people hold Presidents accountable for a lot of things, it’s Congress who has to pass the domestic policy, and that tends to move at a glacial pace.)
But after browsing this interesting piece from the Christian Science Monitor this morning and clicking for about half an hour at What The Fuck Has Obama Done So Far, I’m forced to admit that he’s actually been able to accomplish at least some things. Is this the Hope and Change Utopia that everyone who drank the Kool Aid imagined? No, of course not. But we’re not exactly stagnating as I’d feared, either.
Here are three big things that happened this past term that I wouldn’t have expected.
(1) The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ““ Of course, this just happened this week, and it’s a victory that I honestly didn’t think the Democrats would win. In the “˜90s, Bill Clinton replaced a truly horrible policy with one that was just bad in DADT, and the time has finally come for it to go, go, go. I could write a whole post on DADT and so many others already have this week, so I’ll leave it at that, but it was definitely a huge victory.
(2) The passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – This was the first bill that Obama signed into law, and it makes it much easier under the Civil Rights Act to file a claim of discriminatory pay. This was another big victory, and it also gave us this sad but illuminating Presidential photo comparison. Was this the biggest thing that President Obama and this Congress accomplished? Probably not. But by making the 180-day window for complaint start with each new discriminatory paycheck instead of from the first instance, it changes the whole game. I think the general public has really underestimated this bill in the face of Other Big Things like health care, tax cuts, the stimulus package, etc.
(3) Health Care Reform ““ The measure of Congressional compromise is looking at who’s happy in the end. In the case of health care reform, I feel as if they must have done a good job because nobody’s happy. Folks on the right purposely misunderstand and misuse the word “socialism” while calling for repeal. Folks on the left think it didn’t go nearly far enough and that Obama caved on his principles. A few really major things came out of it, namely the removal of lifetime caps on spending and making it illegal for insurance companies to deny someone for a pre-existing condition, among many other things. Can we do better? Of course we can, but it’s at least somewhere to start.
So what do you all think were the biggest accomplishments of the last legislative term and Obama’s first two years in office?