Florida Professor Robert P. Watson who teaches American Studies at Lynn University has compiled a list of 244 accomplishments by President Obama since he took office despite fanatical Republican opposition aimed at wrecking his presidency.
The list does not include Obama’s decision to halt the tar sands pipeline that would have endangered the Oglalla aquifer in pumping 700,000 gallons daily of the world’s dirtiest oil from western Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Prof. Watson, whose specialty is presidential history, began preparing his list back in Nov. 2009 to counter the lies and disinformation spread by the corporate media and the Republican right.
“The misinformation and venom that passes for political reporting and civic debate is beyond description,” Dr. Watson wrote. “There is a need to set the record straight.” His list then contained 90 plus achievements which he has now updated to 244.
He praised Obama for pushing through measures vital to the national interest not through a “heavy-handed or top down approach” but through efforts to “reach across the aisle, encourage vigorous debate, and utilize town halls and panels of experts in the policy-making process.”
On the list (a few have been added by this reporter):
- Overhauled the food safety system;
- Approved the Lily Ledbetter “Equal Pay” for women rule;
- Ended “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” discrimination in the military;
- Passed the Hate Crimes bill in Congress;
- Appointed two progressive women to the U.S. Supreme Court including the first Latina;
- Pushed through the Affordable Health Care Act, outlawing denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, extending until age 26 health care coverage of children under parent’s plans, steps toward “Medicare for All;”
- Expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) health care for children;
- Pushed through a $789 economic stimulus bill that saved or created 3 million jobs and began task of repairing the nation’s infrastructure;
- Overhauled the credit card industry, making it more consumer friendly;
- Established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and used a recess appointment to keep it on track in the face of GOP attempts to derail it;
- Also outmaneuvered GOP in naming two members of the National Labor Relations Board blocked by the Republicans in their attempt to shut down the NLRB;
- Won two extensions of the debt ceiling and extensions of unemployment compensation in the face of Republican threats to shut down the U.S. government;
- Pulled troops out of Iraq and began draw down of troops in Afghanistan.
Since he prepared the list, it has been posted and reposted on the Internet hundreds of times with scores of bloggers commenting on it and adding to the list.
Writing in Washington Monthly’s Political Animal column, blogger Steve Benen, points out that many of Obama’s achievements have been won through painful concessions he was forced to make with intransigent Republican obstructionists on Capitol Hill.
The tendency has been to focus on his concessions while ignoring what he won in return. Benen cites the lame duck session of Congress in December 2010 following the disastrous elections a month earlier in which the Democrats lost majority control of the House.
There were predictions that nothing would be achieved in that lame duck, Benen said. “But for all the grief he’s gotten over this, its worth keeping in mind that Obama got a helluva lot…. In the end, he got a Food Safety bill, passage of the START Treaty, a stimulus package, repeal of ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’ and a First Responder bill” that provided health coverage for firefighters, police officers and other workers injured during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Incredibly, the Republicans tried to block it.
Obama was forced to make the same concession just before Christmas, yielding on his repeated demands for termination of a trillion in tax cuts for the rich in order to win approval of an increase in the debt ceiling and extension of jobless benefits for five million unemployed workers.
Yielding on tax cuts for the rich hurt those fighting for tax justice. But there is little doubt that those hard pressed, if not desperate unemployed workers, viewed this as an “accomplishment” and Obama deserves full credit.
Under a headline, “Who is Washington’s Most Effective Politician?” Benen scoffs at those who pick Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McConnell’s job was “easy,” Benen writes. He twisted Senate rules to make himself “Obstructionist in Chief.” No, he says, Obama is the most skillful, “perhaps the most effective politician since LBJ” for winning that long list of victories in the face of unprecedented obstruction, lies, and misinformation.
Plenty of voters are now preparing lists for themselves of Obama’s accomplishments as they work to insure he wins a second term next Nov. 6.