Tuesday, April 5, 2011

President Obama Announces He's In For 2012

Few Democrats were surprised when President Obama announced on Monday, April 4, that he is a candidate for the 2012 Presidential race.

He reached out to those on his massive email lists to share the news through a "real persons-type video" embedded in the email.

On a telephone call with supporters tonight (I am a supporter) he was low key, sending the message that he has a country to run and needs the grass roots supporters to be the ones who are the canvassers, neighborhood and community organizers who get the messages out.

He further pointed out that in the last two years he has accomplished more than any President in a comparable time in the last 50 years.

And his accomplishments -- many of which were monumental -- among many somewhat problematic issues, are indeed many: (my plus +/ minus - scoring noted below.)

+/ The Affordable Care Act -- tops my list, even though I wanted single payer -- I'm Okay with this major improvement toward pulling more people into the health care network and know that the American people are happier as the rhetoric dies down and the real advantages are seen. Of course today the Republicans released their plan to privatize Medicare in the future. What part of pre-existing exclusion clauses in the private health care market do they not understand?

+/ Lily Ledbetter Act -- Although this bill does not help Lily -- it lends its name toward helping those in future gender pay inequity situations. We cannot count on the Supreme Court to step into the Wal-Mart gender discrimination Class action lawsuit.

+/ Repeal of Don't Ask Don’' Tell -- Long delayed, but finally ready for implementation. Restores dignity to all who serve their country. Can the DOMA repeal be far behind?

+/ Reduction of Unemployment Rate/Increase in Numbers of Workers With Jobs -- Last week, unemployment rates dropped to 8.8%. Since President Obama was elected over one million jobs have been created.

+/ Extension of Unemployment Benefits -- Added much needed benefit weeks to those workers, who through no fault of their own, became unemployed during the tough economy. (Many are dismayed that this came at the expense of preserving the Bush Era tax cuts for the rich, and think the Democrats gave away too much to get too little. But the President went up in the polls after this bargaining process, so it appears to have worked.)

+/ Finance reforms/Auto Industry Bail Out Repayments/TARP repayments -- The government has made money on the auto bailout with its General Motors stock selling well. Most of the TARP investment has already been paid back. The financial industry has been strengthened by the steady hand which has been shown by his resolve to move at a measured pace. Wall Street has yet to get officially on board, but the stock market has gained over a third in value since he was elected, currently standing at 12,400 at the close of business today. When Obama took office on January 20th, 2009, the market Dow Jones value was 8279. It had been at 10,000 when Bush took office 8 years before. So, some confidence is returning to the world of investment. Have the banks been restrained, downsized and paid any penalties for their poor management policies which almost brought down world financial market? Nope. They have again managed to step aside and accept no responsibility.

+/- Foreclosures -- Although there have been some minor improvements in this area, delays and poor recordkeeping by banks have muddied the waters here. The value of homes is still flat as many people owe more than their home is worth. New home building is not yet back on track. So foreclosures are still happening and neighborhoods are impacted negatively. More improvements needed here.

+/- Environmental advances -- Some changes have helped advance the mission of EPA with clean air and clean water improvements. However, we also now still have to deal with regulating off-shore drilling permits after the BP oil spill, and address increases in nuclear power plants here in light of the disasters in Japan with the release of massive radioactive contamination.

+/- Wars to end all wars? Okay -- not there yet. BUT troops in Iraq are down to around 50,000 and these troops are not in combat. Afghanistan -- bumped up -- said to be winding down starting in June, let's hope it can happen and we can bring the troops home soon. Libya -- jury still out on this one. I think a humanitarian response was the correct one but do not want to see mission-creep here. He can no longer legitimately wear the mantle of the anti-war President which we all wanted him to assume, but I do not see him as a militaristic Bush inaccurately touting "Mission Accomplished".

-/ Closing Guantanamo? AG Holder announced on April 4 that terrorist trials would not be held in New York City, as he had wanted, but would be held at the Cuban base. Regardless of the facts in the case here, Congress refused to allow any funds to be used for transport, housing, mainland trials or maintenance of former inmates from the prison if they were moved to the US mainland. So progressives have taken the President to task for not keeping this promise. I wonder how he was to have accomplished this with no allocations of funds allowed. Take note, Democrats voted for this restriction also, despite the facts that several terrorist trials have successfully been held in Federal Courts.

So the election year is still taking form. It is expected that it may get ugly, just as the 2010 Congressional Campaigns did. Do we still have hope. Can we still say Yes we can? My score card here has more pluses than minuses and the pluses were accomplished with a positive messaging, so it appears that this has resonance. Democrats worry about too much compromise. Independents worry about too little. So, just like the Three Bears and the bowls of porridge, there has to be one formula that is found to be just right. There is an old political axiom that one runs from the left and governs from the center, so if the President can keep his coalitions together -- left and center left -- through the next eighteen months or so of the campaign and pick up the Independents who deserted the Democrats in 2010, he might pull this one off! Beinart of the Daily Beast believes that many of the former Clinton administration members who joined early on and are now leaving will allow President Obama to move back left again for the campaign.

What do you think?

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