Interesting enough and probably this is a truth optional Presidential campaign, there is an attempt by the right to disregard the many accomplishment of this great American President. Yes President Obama, despite the unsubstantiated rhetoric and hateful vitriole by the media and its surrogates, has accomplished more in 3.5 years than many Presidents did in 8 years. Consider this,
Number of Filibusters Skyrocket
This brings us to the modern day. When people began to see the results of the conservative political philosophies of the last generation, in particular those put in place during the strong control of all branches of government under Bush, there was a spontaneous backlash. When just a year before corporate pundits were declaring the Democratic Party dead, they won back slim control over both chambers of Congress. The immediate effect was that the number of filibusters by new minority party skyrocketed.
We are now in the 111th session of Congress, and it appears that a new record will be set once again. To date, there have been 76 motions filed to end filibusters, resulting in 40 votes on cloture, and 40 instances of it being invoked. If we project these numbers to the end of the 111th session of the US Senate, that would result in a record number of cloture invocations, and near record levels of motions along with actual votes.
2009: President Obama’s term. Now to many of you who are not familiar with a filibuster, consider this history which been abused by the Republican-controlled Congress against President Obama.
The History of Filibusters in the US Congress
For those unfamiliar with the procedures, a senator can stop progress on any bill by speaking on and on and on on any topic they choose, unless 60 Senators vote to invoke cloture, there by ending the endless ramble. The first instance of cloture being used was to end a filibuster of the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles by isolationists in 1919. Following that, there were only 3 instances of cloture until 1960.
Use of the filibuster began to rise during the progressive fight to pass Civil Rights bills in the 1960′s, mainly from conservative Southern Democrats opposed to ending segregation. The record length for a single filibuster was Strom Thurmond (R-SC) who spoke for more than 24 hours in an attempt to stop passage of the Civil Rights Act.
During an attempt by the Bush regime to ram a group of conservative activist judges down the throats of the nations highest courts in 2005, the Democratic minority threatened to filibuster. At this point, the Republican majority threatened to abolish the filibuster (called the nuclear option) as a parliamentary procedure. According to Wikipedia:
In 2005, a group of Republican senators led by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), responding to the Democrats’ threat to filibuster some judicial nominees of President George W. Bush to prevent a vote on the nominations, floated the idea of having Vice President Dick Cheney, as President of the Senate, rule from the chair that a filibuster on judicial nominees was inconsistent with the constitutional grant of power to the president to name judges with the advice and consent of the Senate (interpreting “consent of the Senate” to mean “consent of a simple majority of Senators”, not “consent under the Senate rules”).
But in spite of the intense opposition that was planned to occur from a hotel room on the day Mr. Obama was being sworn into office! So instead of attending the inauguration of our 44th President, the GOP were plotting on how they were going to make him a one-term President! Part of our plan is to vote down or filibuster any legislation that he introduced to help the American people with finding employment. (American Job’s Act) Part of public policy states that in the event that a bill (policy) is passed into a law, it must budgeted and funded, so that the services can reach the American people. So what the GOP has done is block any legislation that would fund many areas of the healthcare law so that the services would not reach the people and then blame the President. However, what is certain is that due to our separation of powers, the President which is from the executive branch does not pass laws, the House of Representatives led by Republican John Boener, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell pass the laws! The Senate which is also a part of that branch passes laws as well. The President signs or vetoes the laws that were introduced to him for his signature. So I am not sure how the do nothing Congress blames the President when they are the culprits. However, in spite of the opposition, he has made many great accomplishments as follows. What a great leader!
Mr. Obama has:
1. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.
2. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for twenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.
3. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.
4. Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. Last troops left on December 18, 2011.
5. Began Drawdown of War in Afghanistan: From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces are now down to 91,000, with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of summer 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.
6. Eliminated Osama bin laden: In 2011, ordered special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.
7. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.
8. Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.
9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.
10. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi: In March 2011, joined a coalition of European and Arab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops. Gaddafi’s forty-two-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on October 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.
11. Told Mubarak to Go: On February 1, 2011, publicly called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to accept reform or step down, thus weakening the dictator’s position and putting America on the right side of the Arab Spring. Mubarak ended thirty-year rule when overthrown on February 11.
12. Reversed Bush Torture Policies: Two days after taking office, nullified Bush-era rulings that had allowed detainees in U.S. custody to undergo certain “enhanced” interrogation techniques considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions. Also released the secret Bush legal rulings supporting the use of these techniques.
13. Improved America’s Image Abroad: With new policies, diplomacy, and rhetoric, reversed a sharp decline in world opinion toward the U.S. (and the corresponding loss of “soft power”) during the Bush years. From 2008 to 2011, favorable opinion toward the United States rose in ten of fifteen countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, with an average increase of 26 percent.
14. Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Spending: As part of the 2010 health care reform bill, signed measure ending the wasteful decades-old practice of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. Starting July 2010 all students began getting their federal student loans directly from the federal government. Treasury will save $67 billion over ten years, $36 billion of which will go to expanding Pell Grants to lower-income students.
15. Created Race to the Top: With funds from stimulus, started $4.35 billion program of competitive grants to encourage and reward states for education reform.
16. Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards: Released new fuel efficiency standards in 2011 that will nearly double the fuel economy for cars and trucks by 2025.
17. Coordinated International Response to Financial Crisis: To keep world economy out of recession in 2009 and 2010, helped secure from G-20 nations more than $500 billion for the IMF to provide lines of credit and other support to emerging market countries, which kept them liquid and avoided crises with their currencies.
18. Passed Mini Stimuli: To help families hurt by the recession and spur the economy as stimulus spending declined, signed series of measures (July 22, 2010; December 17, 2010; December 23, 2011) to extend unemployment insurance and cut payroll taxes.
19. Began Asia “Pivot”: In 2011, reoriented American military and diplomatic priorities and focus from the Middle East and Europe to the Asian-Pacific region. Executed multipronged strategy of positively engaging China while reasserting U.S. leadership in the region by increasing American military presence and crafting new commercial, diplomatic, and military alliances with neighboring countries made uncomfortable by recent Chinese behavior.
20. Increased Support for Veterans: With so many soldiers coming home from Iraq and Iran with serious physical and mental health problems, yet facing long waits for services, increased 2010 Department of Veterans Affairs budget by 16 percent and 2011 budget by 10 percent. Also signed new GI bill offering $78 billion in tuition assistance over a decade, and provided multiple tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans.
21. Tightened Sanctions on Iran: In effort to deter Iran’s nuclear program, signed Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (2010) to punish firms and individuals who aid Iran’s petroleum sector. In late 2011 and early 2012, coordinated with other major Western powers to impose sanctions aimed at Iran’s banks and with Japan, South Korea, and China to shift their oil purchases away from Iran.
22. Created Conditions to Begin Closing Dirtiest Power Plants: New EPA restrictions on mercury and toxic pollution, issued in December 2011, likely to lead to the closing of between sixty-eight and 231 of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants. Estimated cost to utilities: at least $11 billion by 2016. Estimated health benefits: $59 billion to $140 billion. Will also significantly reduce carbon emissions and, with other regulations, comprises what’s been called Obama’s “stealth climate policy.”
23. Passed Credit Card Reforms: Signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (2009), which prohibits credit card companies from raising rates without advance notification, mandates a grace period on interest rate increases, and strictly limits overdraft and other fees.
24. Eliminated Catch-22 in Pay Equality Laws: Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, giving women who are paid less than men for the same work the right to sue their employers after they find out about the discrimination, even if that discrimination happened years ago. Under previous law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the statute of limitations on such suits ran out 180 days after the alleged discrimination occurred, even if the victims never knew about it.
25. Protected Two Liberal Seats on the U.S. Supreme Court: Nominated and obtained confirmation for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman to serve, in 2009; and Elena Kagan, the fourth woman to serve, in 2010. They replaced David Souter and John Paul Stevens, respectively.
26. Improved Food Safety System: In 2011, signed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which boosts the Food and Drug Administration’s budget by $1.4 billion and expands its regulatory responsibilities to include increasing number of food inspections, issuing direct food recalls, and reviewing the current food safety practices of countries importing products into America.
27. Achieved New START Treaty: Signed with Russia (2010) and won ratification in Congress (2011) of treaty that limits each country to 1,550 strategic warheads (down from 2,200) and 700 launchers (down from more than 1,400), and reestablished and strengthened a monitoring and transparency program that had lapsed in 2009, through which each country can monitor the other.
28. Expanded National Service: Signed Serve America Act in 2009, which authorized a tripling of the size of AmeriCorps. Program grew 13 percent to 85,000 members across the country by 2012, when new House GOP majority refused to appropriate more funds for further expansion.
29. Expanded Wilderness and Watershed Protection: Signed Omnibus Public Lands Management Act (2009), which designated more than 2 million acres as wilderness, created thousands of miles of recreational and historic trails, and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers.
30. Gave the FDA Power to Regulate Tobacco: Signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009). Nine years in the making and long resisted by the tobacco industry, the law mandates that tobacco manufacturers disclose all ingredients, obtain FDA approval for new tobacco products, and expand the size and prominence of cigarette warning labels, and bans the sale of misleadingly labeled “light” cigarette brands and tobacco sponsorship of entertainment events.
There is one reality that will always be true in America, we can have different opinions but we can't have different facts.
Example of the Republicans at work, and why we do not have the jobs that we need:
GOP Senators Vote Against President Obama's Jobs Bill
WASHINGTON (AP) -- United against Barack Obama, Senate Republicans voted Tuesday night to kill the jobs package the president had spent weeks campaigning for across the country, a stinging loss at the hands of lawmakers opposed to stimulus-style spending and a tax increase on the very wealthy.
The $447 billion plan died on a 50-49 tally that garnered a majority of the 100-member Senate but fell well short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive. The tally had been 51-48, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., switched his vote to "nay" so that he could force a future revote.
The demise of Obama's jobs package was expected, despite his campaign-style efforts to swing the public behind it. The White House and leaders in Congress were already moving on to alternative ways to address the nation's painful 9.1 percent unemployment, including breaking the legislation into smaller, more digestible pieces and approving long-stalled trade bills.
"Tonight's vote is by no means the end of this fight," Obama said in a statement after the vote. "Because with so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can't take `no' for an answer."
The White House appears most confident that it will be able to continue a 2-percentage-point Social Security payroll tax cut through 2012 and to extend emergency unemployment benefits to millions of people - if only because, in the White House view, Republicans won't want to accept the political harm of letting those provisions expire.
White House officials are also hopeful of ultimately garnering votes for the approval of infrastructure spending and tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed veterans.
"Now it's time for both parties to work together and find common ground on removing government barriers to private-sector job growth," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the vote.
Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana - both up for re-election next year in states where Obama figures to lose - broke with their party on Tuesday night's vote. Every Republican present opposed the plan.
Earlier in the day, Obama capped his weekslong campaign for the measure in an appearance typical of the effort - a tough-talking speech in a swing state crucial to his re-election. Like earlier appearances, it seemed aimed more at rallying his core political supporters heading into the election than changing minds on Capitol Hill.
"Any senator who votes no should have to look you in the eye and tell you what exactly they're opposed to," Obama said to a union audience in Pittsburgh. "I think they'll have a hard time explaining why they voted no on this bill - other than the fact that I proposed it."
Democrats were not wholly united behind the measure. In addition to Nelson and Tester, Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who aligns with Democrats, said they oppose the underlying measure despite voting to choke off the filibuster.
Obama's plan would combine Social Security payroll tax cuts for workers and businesses and other tax relief totaling about $270 billion with $175 billion in new spending on roads, school repairs and other infrastructure, as well as unemployment assistance and help to local governments to avoid layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers.
Obama said that the plan - more than half the size of his 2009 economic stimulus measure - would be an insurance policy against a double-dip recession and that continued economic intervention was essential given slower-than-hoped job growth.
"Right now, our economy needs a jolt," Obama said. "Right now."
Unlike the 2009 legislation, the current plan would be paid for with a 5.6 percent surcharge on income exceeding $1 million. That would be expected to raise about $450 billion over the coming decade.
"Democrats' sole proposal is to keep doing what hasn't worked - along with a massive tax hike that we know won't create jobs," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday, saying there are 1.5 million fewer jobs than when Obama's 2009 economic package became law. "Why on earth would you support an approach that we already know won't work?" McConnell said.
The White House and Democratic leaders, however, were pleased that the great majority of Democrats voted for the plan. Support among Democrats was shored up by replacing Obama's tax increases - particularly a proposal to limit the value of itemized deductions for families making more than $250,000 - with the surcharge on annual income over $1 million.
That millionaires proposal would hit about 392,000 households, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank. In 2013, the first year the tax would take effect, those wealthy households would see their taxes increase by an average of $110,500, according to the analysis.
Just before the vote on Obama's jobs plan, the Senate passed legislation aimed at punishing China for keeping its currency undervalued against the dollar. Lower-valued currency helps Chinese exports at the expense, bill supporters say, of American jobs.
Next, both the House and Senate will turn Wednesday to approving trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that could create tens of thousands of jobs, one of the few areas of agreement between Republicans and the administration on boosting the economy.
In coming weeks and months, Democrats promise further votes on jobs. But it remains to be seen how much of that effort will involve more campaign-stoked battles with Republicans and how much will include seeking common ground in hopes of passing legislation.
Leaders of the GOP-controlled House have signaled they support tax cuts for small businesses and changes to jobless insurance to allow states to use unemployment funds for on-the-job training. And they've indicated they'll be willing to accept an extension of cuts to the Social Security payroll tax. But stimulus-style spending is a nonstarter with the tea party-infused chamber.
Tuesday's vote played out as disaffected crowds continued to occupy Wall Street, a square in Washington and parts of other cities around the country in protest of income inequality and related issues.
Obama advisers said they were working with Senate Democratic leaders on how and when to break out separate aspects of the overall jobs bill for votes.
Even before Tuesday's defeat, the White House was casting the Senate vote as but the first act in what one Obama adviser called a long-term play - essentially, an autumn full of action to force Congress to take action on jobs. Senior Obama officials said it was important for the Senate to act to keep pressure on the Republican-led House.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., was recuperating from surgery and did not vote.