Thursday, November 4, 2010

We Had it Coming

The 2010 mid-term elections are pretty much over. As a Minnesotan, I am reminded of a joke I first heard 48 years ago, when I was 10 years old:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
"Governor", who?
I don't know. I'm from Minnesota.

The race for governor will work itself out, although not before the Republicans drag out the recount in order to run the table in January when they control both houses of the Legislature and Governor Pawlenty remains in office as part of the State Constitution's mandate.

In the meantime, I thought I'd do a quick post-mortem on the mid-term results. A fraction of the voters who elected Barack Obama in 2008, expressed their frustration with the Chosen One's inability to snap his fingers and return America to the days of Bill Clinton and their record surpluses. In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. We elected a community organizer with no executive experience to the highest office of the land in 2008 and failed to protest when he sat around the White House playing with his admittedly adorable children and his foreign-bred puppy.

Perhaps if he had at least tried to accomplish something in the first two years of his term, the electorate, which pays attention to such things and is prone to reward politicians who make an effort to address our challenges, would have rewarded him by supporting the Democrats who make up his team.

I searched and searched on the Internet, looking for anything that demonstrated that the President was not spending his days golfing. The results were pretty sad. This is all I could find:

1. Issued executive order to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

2. Ended Bush administration’s CIA program of ‘enhanced interrogation methods’ by requiring that the Army field manual be used as the guide for terrorism interrogations.

3. Increased minority access to capital.

4. Established Credit Card Bill of Rights, preventing credit card companies from imposing arbitrary rate increases on customers.

5. Health Care Reform Bill, preventing insurance companies from denying insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

6. Health Care Reform Bill, allowing children to remain covered by their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.

7. Tax cuts for up to 3.5 million small businesses to help pay for employee health care coverage.

8. Tax credits for up to 29 million individuals to help pay for health insurance.

9. Expansion of Medicaid to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

10. Require health insurance plans to disclose how much of the premium actually goes to patient care.

11. Added $4.6 billion to the Veterans Administration budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals.

12. Significantly increased funding for the Violence Against Women Act.

13. Lifted restrictions granting Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island.

14. Eliminated subsidies to private lender middlemen of student loans and protect student borrowers.

15. Increased funding for national parks and forests by 10%.

16. Significantly expanded Pell grants, which help low-income students pay for college.

17. Expanded hate crime law in the US to include sexual orientation through the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

18. Provided stimulus funding to boost private sector spaceflight programs.

19. Appointed nation’s first Chief Technology Officer.

20. Signed financial reform law establishing a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to look out for the interests of everyday Americans.

21. Signed financial reform law requiring lenders to verify applicants’ credit history, income, and employment status.

22. Signed financial reform law prohibiting banks from engaging in proprietary trading (trading the bank’s own money to turn a profit, often in conflict with their customers’ interests).

23. Signed financial reform law allowing shareholders of publicly traded companies to vote on executive pay.

24. Cut prescription drug cost for Medicare recipients by 50%.

25. Provided $12.2 Billion in new funding for Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.

26. Extended Benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

27. Appointed more openly gay officials than any other president in U.S. history.

28.The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009: a $789 billion economic stimulus plan.

29. Created more private sector jobs in 2010 than during entire Bush years.

30. Voluntary disclosure of White House visitors for the first time in U.S. history.

31. Appointed first Latina to the US Supreme Court.

32. Promoted social responsibility through creation of, a national database of volunteer opportunities.

33. Reversed ‘global gag rule’, allowing US aid to go to organizations regardless of whether they provide abortions.

34. Signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of tobacco for the first time.

35. Signed New START Treaty - nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia.

36. Increased average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg to 35.5mpg, starting in 2016.

37. Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers.

38. Provided travel expenses to families of fallen soldiers to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover Air Force Base.

39. Reversed the policy of barring media coverage during the return of fallen soldiers to Dover Air Force Base.

40.Launched to track spending from the Recovery Act, providing transparency and allowing the public to report fraud, waste, or abuse.

41. Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America’s Veterans.

42. Signed the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which provides health care to 11 million kids -- 4 million of whom were previously uninsured.

43. Repealed Bush era restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

44. Signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis.

45. Developed stimulus package, which includes approx. $18 billion for non-defense scientific research and development.

46. Signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act to stop fraud and wasteful spending in the defense procurement and contracting system.

It's too bad. I had such high hopes in November, 2008, that we had elected someone who could do more than spend 33% of his time away from the White House relaxing at Camp David or on a ranch in Texas. Maybe things will get better when Governor Palin gets elected to the presidency in 2012.


Anonymous said...

Sam Stern said...

The comment by "Anonymous" cites the source for my list. My apologies for not incorporating an attribution into my post.

Peter Schwartz said...

Well, we SORT of had it coming because "we" just didn't get out there and vote in enough numbers.

I know that sounds obvious, but we let our disappointments with Obama, such as they were, impair our ability to act, sap our energy for acting.

Sort of like what happened with the HC bill. "No one liked it"; but half of that "no one," if not more, wanted it to go further.

But the impression was left that it was simply a lousy bill "no one" liked.

We also let "truth" get in the way of action; something Republicans NEVER do. Rachel had a good segment on this last night with Mr. PC.

Charles Leck said...

I agree with Peter. If we carefully examine the voting numbers, we will find that not enough of the people who voted in 2008 voted in 2010. That MAY be Obama's fault for not sticking to the agenda he promised those voters. Did he compromise too much? Wiggle too much? Spend too much time at Camp David and on the golf course? No one was more disappointed with Pres Ombama than I. Perhaps this has been a wake-up call to/for him. Chas