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No progress for Obama at the one-year mark

Seeing as Barack Obama’s first calendar year as president is coming to a close, I figured I would review his stated goals from his campaign and compare expectations to accomplishments.

In the early part of Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer, he said that his perspective on progress for the country differs from what Republicans see as progress.

“You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country. We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage …We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president,” he explained.

If that is truly the measuring stick by which Obama wants to be evaluated, he has failed us miserably so far as president. Under Obama, over four million Americans have lost their jobs. A significant portion of the alleged jobs he has “saved” with the stimulus have proved to be fraudulent.

In addition to all this, the country now faces record deficits. By the president’s own measure of progress, he has kept our nation at a standstill for nearly a year.

Although I could easily end the column right here, since the president and I both agree that he has made no progress for our country in the past year, I feel that there are other ways  to measure progress in this country. Obama was not elected to create jobs. There are many other issues voters expect Obama to solve.

For instance, closing Guantanamo Bay. Obama promised to get that done by the end of this year, and although it hasn‘t yet been closed, he has said he will get around to it. So we can chalk that up to the “progress” column.

What about making our nation energy-independent? That was a goal during the campaign as well. Obama promised that, “For the sake of our economy, our security and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.”

No progress has been made in this area yet, because the economy and health care have taken most of Obama’s attention this past year. If I were a betting man, I would bet that we will still be pumping gas in 10 years.

What about our wars abroad? Obama said this past week that he intends to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. He is using the same strategy that George W. Bush successfully deployed last year in Iraq. The same strategy that Obama blasted during the campaign and still has yet to admit was a success.

But, to Obama’s credit, this was a difficult decision for him to make and he still made the correct one. He said all along during the campaign that he felt winning in Afghanistan should have always been our primary focus. He said he intended to win in Afghanistan and this decision backs up his campaign promise.

The reason it was a difficult decision, beyond the obvious reason that he’s sending 30,000 more troops into danger and extending the war, is that his anti-war far-left base will be disappointed. They thought they were electing him to end the war, not extend it.

We’ve all seen the silly anti-war bumper stickers around town – Obama has to know that people with those stickers are going to be pissed. If he didn’t, he found out when Michael Moore sent him a letter the day before he addressed the nation about Afghanistan. The letter indicated that Moore would consider Obama a “war president” if he decided to send 30,000 more troops to war. Moore also said that if Obama decided to send more troops he will “Turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics.”

Obama making this decision – the correct decision – in the face of all these critics within his own party is something that should be commended. Hopefully, down the road, he will be vindicated for making the decision when we successfully wrap up the wars in the Middle East.

Lastly, I think we should take a look at what the president has done with health care. Obama came into office with the mission of giving everyone affordable and accessible care. We currently don’t know if his health care plans will be realized since they still have not been passed, but what we do know is the plan will certainly make health care accessible to everyone because it will be mandated.

What we don’t know is whether or not it will do anything to lower the costs of health care. I would argue it will not and it likely won’t, but it’s not fair to say at this point. What is fair to say is that health care is no more affordable or accessible now then it was 11 months ago.

Overall, the first year in office for Obama has led to pretty much no progress for our country. The deficit is out of control, unemployment has soared, Guantanamo Bay is still open, the wars are still going and health care is still far from being resolved. But don’t worry, there is good news. It’s only been one year, Obama still has three. The bad news? It’s only been one year, Obama still has three.

Alex Perry is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at amperry@student.umass.edu.

Comments
5 Responses to “No progress for Obama at the one-year mark”
  1. kyle says:

    newest jobs report shows just 11,000 net jobs lost in november. expect a small increase in december.

  2. Alex Perry says:

    kyle unemployment is already over 10%. how far have we fallen when we applaud our president for a quarter when only a “small” amount of jobs have been lost?

  3. Ben Rudnick says:

    Alex,

    One point I feel I should mention. You remind us of Obama’s promise to end our dependence on Middle East oil within 10 years, but conclude that is an achievable goal. According to the Energy Information Administration, US petroleum imports peaked at about 5 billion barrels a year in 2005, but the amount of that which came from the Persian Gulf was roughly 17%. In 2007 we imported about 16% from the Persian Gulf, but the number jumped to 18% in 2008. The increase may be tied to either a lower price as a result of the global financial and economic downturn, or to the unwillingness of the Democrat-controlled Congress to allow increased exploitation of domestic sources, or some combination of both. More significantly, the supply we got from the Persian Gulf in 2008 amounted to only a bit over 12% of the total that we used last year, including domestic production.

    The important thing is that we probably could eliminate our oil imports from the Persian Gulf by 2019 or 2020, and thereby effectively meet Obama’s goal, but I am not optimistic about achieving that unless we begin now to fully develop the potential of our domestic supplies. A shifting of our oil supplies such that none of it comes from the Middle East is possible, but only if we pursue all possible options, including alternative fuels like natural gas, increased domestic production to offset imports from the Persian Gulf, and a robust conservation program. Without all of these, and more, I doubt Obama will be able to claim real progress towards that goal.

    Certainly, you are correct that in ten years time “we will still be pumping gas,” but if we all resolve now to pursue Obama’s goal with all the resources at our disposal, we may be able to say that we are no longer burning any gasoline from the Middle East.

    Ben Rudnick
    Collegian Columnist

  4. Wesley says:

    Let’s face it, the Chief Executive and his Chicago Gang are incompetent, elitist, theoreticians with no experience in the real economy or making executive decisions. Their sole, palpable achievement has been the creation of a trillion dollar, partisan, slush fund to reward and keep in power their kook pals and cronies. They think government can create jobs by taking money from the private business sector (where jobs are actually created) and redistribute that wealth to one-time projects rather than create more wealth and jobs. Hoover and FDR did that and so prolonged double-digit unemployment until a dual-front world war broke out and rescued the U.S. economy.

  5. Levi James says:

    Tax cuts passed during the Bush presidency are reducing government revenue collections by $231 billion in 2009. Also, because of the additions to the federal debt due to Bush administration policies, the government will be paying $218 billion more in interest payments in 2009.

    Had President Bush not cut taxes while simultaneously prosecuting two foreign wars and adopting other programs without paying for them, the current deficit would be only 4.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, instead of the eye-catching 11.2 percent—despite the weak economy and the costly efforts taken to restore it.

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