Nel's New Day

November 5, 2012

‘Life Is Better Than Four Years Ago’

Tomorrow we have a choice between the 21st century or the 19th century—moving forward into greater income equality for people in this country or a Gilded Age that rewards only the wealthiest. Many of the past blogs in Nel’s New Day have concentrated on Romney’s faults: today’s blog is about Obama’s amazing accomplishments during the past four years, despite conservative obstructionists in the Congress who have spent all their political capital to destroy the president.

When I started writing this, I thought that I could easily condense the information into the average length of a blog. Boy, was I wrong! I have taken so much of what happened in the last four years for granted. When people ask if the country is better off than four years ago, give them these reasons. For a great—and much longer—description, check out this article on 50 of Obama’s achievements.

Perhaps the president’s most notable accomplishment was to prevent another Great Depression. Eighteen months after he started on that project, he again rescued the country from economic destruction after the conservatives proposed raising the debt ceiling and therefore not paying the nation’s debts.

Currently the United States is one of a handful of countries not mired in a double-dip recession. In fact, the U.S. has netted over 5 million new jobs during the last 32 months, compared to the 818,000 jobs lost in just the last month of George W. Bush’s second term, the largest loss in one month during the past 60 years. Part of the jobs came from the stimulus bill, much maligned by the Republicans who wanted President Obama—and the country–to achieve nothing. The stimulus also insourced thousands of job from overseas companies that moved factories back to the U.S. In addition to the advantage of the jobs, these businesses rented empty facilities from the government. Blade Dynamics now produces wind turbines for green energy in the U.S. This in addition to saving the auto industry.

His second most notable accomplishment is his sweeping health care reforms that moved the country toward universal health coverage, as it allows children under 26 to stay on their parents’ policies; lowered drug costs for people on; provided free immunizations, mammograms and contraceptives; banned lifetime limits on insurance payments; and mandated the denial of coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, adding this mandate to all people in 2014. Four years ago, 50 million Americans could not get health insurance; now 36 million Americans have access to healthcare for the first time, over a million young Americans are now covered on their parents’ policy, and all women have access to contraception and preventive healthcare, with no copay.

The third primary achievement was unraveling our knotted involvement in Middle East conflicts, first by taking 146,000 military members out of Iraq and then by winding down Afghanistan while keeping us out of Libya and other countries hit by the “Arab Spring” revolutions. In Libya, President Obama gathered international backing for airstrikes during the uprising, thus keeping American military forces in a background role. The president also negotiated a much tougher regime of multilateral economic sanctions on Iran. The killing goes on in Syria, but the administration is working to identify and support moderate insurgent forces there.

With no preemptive declarations of war as George W. Bush did, the president helped repair America’s badly damaged reputation around the world. Of 14 nations, 10 gave the U.S. higher favorability in 2012 than in 2008; the higher ratings were largely in Europe and Asia while understandably the lower four were from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Pakistan. The average increase across all 14 countries was 7.4 points.

The president reversed Bush administration policies that chipped away at minorities’ voting rights and fought anti-immigration laws. When conservatives would not pass a Dream Act to allow entry into citizenship for young people who were brought into the U.S. as children, the president issued an executive order to start this process.

Discrimination against LGBT people began to crack apart during President Obama’s first term. Fifteen years after the legislation of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule that drove  gays and lesbians out of the military, the law was overturned. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act that prevents marriage equality still exists, but the Obama administration does not support this odious act and does support the Respect for Marriage Act that would create federal marriage equality.

If the president wins another four-year term, economists predict further improvement. During the disastrous “bubble” leading to the country’s economic crash, so much building occurred that this industry largely collapsed. At the same time, the excessive household debt created a lack of demand. Economists generally agree that housing booms produce a robust recovery and the lack of demand in buying brings down the economy.

Peter Fagan, in a Bloomberg opinion piece, wrote, “The economy is on course to enjoy faster growth in the next four years as the headwinds that have held it back turn into tailwinds. Consumers are spending more and saving less after reducing household debt to the lowest since 2003. Home prices are rebounding after falling more than 30 percent from their 2006 highs. And banks are increasing lending after boosting equity capital by more than $300 billion since 2009.” He indicated that this would happen with either candidate being elected, but I think that he forgot to take into consideration that Mitt Romney would take all the money and give it to the wealthy.

The Republicans have refused to give the president credit for many of his policies. While the GOP is claiming that he is destroying small business, he pushed through more tax write-offs for new equipment and temporary tax cuts for hiring the unemployed.

In a speech given at the Democratic National Convention, Jim Sinegal, former CEO, co-founder, and current board member of Costco, stated that companies need “a president who takes the long view and makes the tough decisions.” He added, “We don’t want one set of rules for ourselves and another for our employees. Some of my friends in corporate America say that all they need is a government that gets off the backs of businesses … But I think they get it all wrong. Business needs a president who has covered businesses’ backs.”

If conservatives had not blocked the president, he would have a jobs plan for school renovations, repair projects for roads and bridges, aid to states, and more. The Dodd-Frank financial regulation established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, initiated reform of the derivatives market, and imposed higher capital requirements for banks. It’s an incomplete action, again because of the way that conservatives blocked him.

Obama critics claim that the president has not presented an agenda for his second year. The conservatives have not room when one considers their own candidate. Even more, these critics are wrong. President Obama’s second-term agenda includes a budget deal that includes both spending cuts and tax increases; a detailed deficit-reduction proposal to reduce deficit by $3.8 trillion within a decade; implementation of a new health insurance plan; the continued push for clean energy; climate change legislation; upgrading of the nation’s infrastructure; retooling the educational system and training people for well-paying jobs; and new campaign financing system to curtail billionaires’ and corporations’ power.

“The die is cast for a much stronger recovery,” wrote Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics Inc. He added, “Political uncertainty will abate and hiring and economic growth will revive by this time next year. By 2014, growth will be in full swing as the construction cycle definitively turns up. Real GDP growth is expected to approach a 4% annual pace, with job growth above 250,000 per month and unemployment steadily declining. The economy should return to full employment—defined as a 5.8% unemployment rate—by early 2016.”

“If Mitt Romney defeats President Obama in his bid for reelection on Tuesday, it will mark the success of one of the most deeply cynical political campaigns in American history.—Juan Williams, Fox News political analyst, panelist, and substitute host 

Latest Attempt to Keep Democrats from Voting: Robocalls that Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), U.S. Senate candidate in a tightly contested race, made last weekend to registered Democrats gave the wrong poll place locations, some as far away as 11 miles from the correct one. Other Flake calls sounded as if a church was asking them to vote for him. This followed the misinformation from the Maricopa County Elections Department distributed not once but twice to newly registered voters. The printed documents listed Nov. 6 in English and Nov. 8 in Spanish. Maricopa County is the largest country in Arizona and includes the Phoenix metropolitan area.

And the Opposite: People registered in a federally-declared disaster county in New York may vote on an affidavit ballot at any poll site in the state and mandates that the ballots be sent to the board of elections where the voter is registered. [In Ohio and Florida, voters are still standing in line up to eight hours to vote. Something needs to be done at the federal level to guarantee that people will be allowed to vote.]

In less than an hour (midnight), polls will open in Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, two small New Hampshire towns that compete every election to cast the first ballots. Otherwise polls start opening at 6:00 am (EST). If you haven’t voted, do it! Here’s a bit of humor to get you going.

1 Comment »

  1. Thank you.


    Comment by lynchly — November 5, 2012 @ 8:26 PM | Reply

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