A year ago, I took a look back at the first year of the presidency of Barack Obama. It is hard to write about history as it happens. Every historian will tell you that for something to be history, you have to see how the effects of the event played. Sometimes, that takes five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years. Harry Truman is the perfect example of a President whose policies and decisions have improved greatly over time.
Instead, when I look at Obama’s second year in office, I am completely reminded of Franklin Roosevelt’s tenure.
From 1929-1933 Herbert Hoover did little to ease tensions around the country about what would be called “The Great Depression”. Hoover, like many Republicans of the day, believed the stock market would grow again. All the market needed was a correction. What went down, must come up. In addition, Hoover believed it was the role of civil society to help those dispossessed during the depression. America did not. In 1932, the nation elected Franklin Roosevelt to do something about the depression.
In the years that followed, critics of Roosevelt’s New Deal used the term “Socialism” at every turn to describe the New Deal. The Supreme court even struck down some measures of the program. Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court with more justices and that failed too. Words like tyranny were thrown around in newspapers, radio, and in cartoons of the time period. Sounds familiar does it not?
The politics of today have not changed much. Critics in the 1930s like Billy Sunday and Huey Long have been replaced with Sarah Palin and Glen Beck. The rhetoric is just as ill-tempered. The results just as uncouth. The reactions to both time periods to the policies during hard economic times are ones filled with the terminology of enmity in reaction to change.
The big events for the President in 2010 were the Health Care Bills (or what Joe Biden called “A big f-in deal”) and the mid-term elections. The American Public supplanted the Democrats as the party in power in the House of Representatives with the
Republicans. Then in a reversal of fortunes, Obama turned. From early to December, Obama actually governed, compromised and government actually did something substantial during a lame duck session. Tax breaks were given, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, 9/11 First responders were given medical care, and new food packaging laws were passed.
2010 also saw the BP spill disaster and the rise of the Tea Party and a new treaty with the USSR, er I mean Russia. But as 2011 begins three issues still loom large
1. The Deficit – It now nears $14 trillion. This astounding figure will only grow. If America does not get this under control, there will be no America.
2. The Economy – Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
3. Governing – America, as a whole, does not like the rising tide of ineptitude in government at every level. Illinois saw its tax rate rise to 5% last week. A small rise, but the fact is spending must go down. The budget at the federal level must be cut and cut a lot. How is it we could have a surplus 12 years ago and now a trillion-dollar deficit now? Two wars, two tax cuts, and a banking/mortgage industry collapse later, the country and President face tough challenges. With the party of No now in power in the House, nothing may get done in the next year.
When it comes to giving Obama a grade, I still cannot give him good marks at home…A D at best while he gets a B on foreign affairs. Despite the good November and December, the economy and deficit still dominate my grading rubric.
Regardless of the grade, I start to think about what will happen later this year and that is this: The 2012 presidential campaign will kick in high gear. Candidates will flock to Iowa and New Hampshire to start their journey to defeat each other. Obama, oddly enough, will most likely run unopposed for the Democratic nomination. When the election comes in November of 2012, America will have a tough choice. Depending on the candidate, Conservative Republicans like Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee do not translate well to moderates, like myself, nor to Independents, like myself. Does that mean Obama would be President again? I do not know. It is way too early to prognosticate.
As I sat and watched Obama at the Tuscon service last week, I did not think I was watching a memorial service. It was part campaign speech, part celebration, and part remembrance. It was so surreal. As are most days in the government I do believe. In one year’s time, who knows what we will find for year three.
Legislation signed into law by the President in the last 365 days…
January 27: Emergency Aid to American Survivors of Haiti Earthquake Act
March 4: Travel Promotion Act
March 18: Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act
March 23: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
March 30: Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
May 5: Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010
May 17: Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act
July 1:Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act
July 21: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
July 22: >Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010
July 22: Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010
August 10: SPEECH Act of 2010
September 27: Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010
December 13: Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
December 17: Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
December 22: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
January 2: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010
January 4: Food Safety and Modernization Act