How good a job has Obama’s done? Well, his list of accomplishments is long – very long, even if you don’t like it. Some people think he has achieved more than any Democratic president since LBJ, or even FDR. Others focus on the ugly compromises he’s made with the political opposition and fault him for – until very recently – overvaluing compromise and negotiation at the alleged expense of good policy.
Others prefer to ask the question, compared to what? They say Obama has to be judged against:
- The enormous scale of the problems he inherited;
- The even bigger, in this view, scale of what needs to be done to fix the nation’s problems;
- The unprecedented (in American history) opposition from Congressional Republicans;
- A President Hillary Clinton or John McCain, the only other real choices we had in 2008.
We did a Obama report card meeting for year 1, on February 25, 2010. My TWM post is not worth reading. But, I once commented here on how difficult it is to judge our feelings towards our first Black president and had other thoughts here. A WSJ list of Obama’s many achievements in 2009 is here, in case you want to refresh your memories.
More important, many of Obama’s major accomplishments in 2009-10 are now bearing fruit, notably the health care law. My next post will steal a good summary of the scope of his achievements during his first two years in office.
Assessing Year 3 — 2011
Last year is harder to evaluate because the 2010 election results left him facing a GOP-controlled House, and with a mere (!) 52 Democrats in the Senate. So, most of his major achievements last year were actions he did not need Congress’ approval for. I’ll quickly preview his notable 2011 accomplishments, and then we can debate. To preview, last year Obama:
- Raised the debt ceiling and agreed with Republicans to cut $2 trillion from the budget over 10 years. This deal is Obama’s greatest 2011 achievement, in my view. Without it, Republicans in the House would have refused to raise the ceiling, and thereby almost guaranteed destruction of the U.S. and global economies.
- Reduced student loan expenses for millions of students.
- Recess appointed someone to head the Consumer Finance Protection Agency, over unyielding Republican objections.
- Ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the military.
- Deported a record number of illegal immigrants (if you like that sort of thing).
- Ended the Iraq War.
- Killed Bin Laden and many other AQ leaders.
- Successful Libyan war.
- New START Treaty with Russia.
- Big new sanctions on Iran, supported by our allies and not vetoed by Russia or China.
- 2012: announced a major reorientation of US defense strategy away from giant land wars and towards smaller, targeted strikes. Saves $500b over 10 years.
We’ll cover the defense policy changes in a separate meeting on February 16.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –
- What did he get done in 2011 in domestic and foreign policy?
- Has he done a good job of rallying the public around his reelection and opposed tio congressional opposition?
- What could he have done differently? How might that have played out?
- Have there been any notable failures or failures to act?
- What should he do now – right now, plus after the GOP selects a nominee?
- What does the future hold?
- Obama did a good job, Y/N, but compared to what?
- Master list of Obama Administration accomplishments. FYI, this is a little crowded and detailed to be useful except to the most hard-core policy wonks.
- Obama’s Long Game will outsmart his critics, says one moderate (and thus apostate) conservative. A must read if you get to nothing else! (H/T Rafael).
See you there!