What has President Obama Done Right in Eight Years? LOTS To Be Proud Of!
President Barack Hussein Obama took office facing two potentially insurmountable problems:
- An economy accelerating into a major Depression
- A GOP who had already publicly proclaimed their sole purpose in life was to destroy President Obama and oppose every one of his initiative.
That was the environment in which he would try to execute his Hope and Change campaign promise. Below are what those policies he was able to accomplish against all odds. The depth and breadth of what he left as his legacy, one his successor promises to dismantle, is nothing short of astounding.
He and his family held the office with a unique style and grace America has never seen in modern times. There was no personal scandals, only a few real political ones in his administration and a lot of made up ones by the GOP. He was not able to unite America as he had hoped, in fact, because of the rise in power of conservatives, it got worse. Nevertheless, President Obama did move the country forward, coming closer to the ideals laid out in the Preamble to the Constitution.
America has never gotten beyond its racist past and it is only the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act that forced many people to do the moral thing. There effect was to take the overt racism of the 1950s and bury it. With the election of our first black President, our racist past began to reemerge; and for eight years it gained strength. Now the conservatives (not moderate or liberal GOP) will control Congress, the presidency, and the Judiciary (unless Sen. Schumer makes good on his promise to let only moderate judges be appointed to the Supreme Court) which makes the outlook for civil rights dim.
President Obama by the NumbersClick thumbnail to view full-size
President Obama by the Numbers
THE ABOVE SET OF CHARTS ARE FROM http://hubpages.com/politics/An-Anthology-of-Donald-J-Trumps-Presidency where I begin tracking Donald Trump's accomplishiments. It dawned on me these would make a great summary of President Obama's obviously successful 8 years. Following is an explanation of each chart.
GDP (000 2009$) -
Once the Great 2008 Recession passed in 2010, GDP under President Obama quickly improved, passing President Bush's record by Q4 2010. It has continued to grow ever since. President Obama ended the year (3Q 2016) with a very strong 3.5% annualized growth. (Over all, Obama achieved 2% annual growth, not bad given the GOP 8 year effort to destroy his presidency.)
EMPLOYMENT NUMBERS (000) -
This confusing chart shows each part of the employment picture (except the unemployment rate which is in the next chart).
- Size of the Civilian Labor Force
- Number of people with Jobs
- Number of Full-Time Employees
- Number of Not in Labor Force (retired persons, students, those taking care of children or other family members, and others who are neither working nor seeking work)
- Number of Part-Time Employees
- Number who searched for work but not counted in Unemployment numbers and are not Discouraged
- Number who want to work but stopped looking (Discouraged)
Depending on what side of the aisle you are on, you either believe the Unemployment Rate for what it is, a measure of change, or think it doesn't represent reality. Arrayed for your inspection are the different ways the Bureau of Labor slices and dices its numbers.
Notice that throughout President Obama's term, The Employment Level and Full-Time Employees is increasing faster than the Total Labor Force. That means the rate of employment in full-time jobs is increasing.
Notice also that Part-Time employment is flat, which means the PT rate is falling. So are the Marginally Attached (willing to work and searched sometime in the last year, but not in the last four weeks) and the subset of those who are discouraged (willing to work but stopped looking) have fallen dramatically.
Finally, the Not in Labor Force, figure is deceiving. Read the definition and you can surmise the reason for its hefty increase is the baby-boomers retiring.
In all cases where we are considering people who want to work, things have steadily improved throughout the Obama administration.
Unemployment and Participation Rates -
The Unemployment Rate is the one published by the Labor Department and has been trending lower over the last 6.5 years. The Participation Rate, a figure wrongly used to deprecate President Obama because it kept falling. In fact, it only fell throughout the Bush administrations and the aftermath of the Great 2008 Recession, Once people understood the economy was going to continue to recover, the beginning of 2015, the rate stopped decreasing and finally began a journey upward.
Uninsured Rate -
President Obama's major promise to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance from its high of 40 million folks. It is now down to about 20 million.
DOW Jones Average -
An often leading indicator of where the economy is going is the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It was decimated during the Great 2008 Recession. Soon after the announcement of President Obama's Stimulus Program it reversed course and hasn't stopped growing - about 1560 points per year. It stopped growing with the on-set of the Presidential election, began declining when Donald Trump became the GOP nominee and then took off when he won.
Manufacturing Jobs -
One of President-elect Donald Trump's major themes, the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs; a decline he attributed to President Obama. The facts are different, as you see. The decline was entirely withing the Bush Presidency and, as so many other bad things, in the aftermath of the Great 2008 Recession. The truth is, manufacturing jobs increased throughout the Obama administration.
To Paraphrase PBO (with enhancements) - The Right keeps referring to the "Good Old Days" prior to America electing Barack Obama as President; these are the days to which his (and Hillary/Sanders/O'Malley) opponents want to take America back to. When Conservatives turned over the reins to PBO, 1) America was in the process of diving into the worst economic disaster since 1929; 2) bin Laden was still threatening America; 3) 300,000 people were losing their jobs each month; 4) unemployment was soaring; 5) 40 million people have no insurance; 6) people with insurance would have it cancelled at the drop of a hat; 7) people with preexisting conditions couldn't get insurance; gays were banned from the military and from getting married; 8) Bush signed a status of forces agreement with Iraq that required our troops to leave shortly after PBO took office leaving room for ISIS to grow; 9) skyrocketing gas prices, and 10) many more pieces of good news.
This is the world that the Right says President Obama screwed up and so desperately want to return to.
Most Effectual Accomplish in Each of President Obama's Eight Years As the First Black President of the United States
WITHIN THE BODY OF THIS HUB ARE SEVERAL VENUES FOR ENUMERATING what this President has done for America. This version I put at the top of this Hub because the list below represents, in my opinion, his most important contribution in each year of his Presidency.
The Stimulus and associated use of TARP funds. There is now, after much study and soul-searching, virtually every economist in the world agrees that without President Obama's quick and decisive action (with much of the Western world following his lead), the world, not just the United States would have sunk in an historically devastating depression.
Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Since FDR, presidents, everyone, save for George W. Bush, attempted to pass some sort of universal insurance. All but President Clinton and President Obama didn't try. It was FDR's hope that a comprehensive social safety-net for the American people so that never again will they experience the horrors of the Great Depression of 1929. He knew the political will was not there to begin a Health Security Program and had to settle for Social Security Insurance, Unemployment.Insurance, Workman's Comp Insurance, Minimum Wage, and the 40-Hour Workweek. About 40 years later, President Johnson added Medicaid and Medicare Insurance. Then, after almost 40 more years President Obama signed Obamacare into law. Conservatives violently opposed each of these advancement in the human condition.
Repeal of sexual orientation-based discrimination in the military or "the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell" from the Clinton era in his attempt to reduce discrimination. Discrimination in America seems to be its national past-time; from the day we became a Nation to ... today. It has been a slow, painful, deadly path, opposed by Conservatives every step of the way, to reach the degree of universal liberty we have today.
Forced the GOP to compromise on the Bush Tax Cuts making the cuts for the middle class permanent and raising the rates on the wealthy plus a host of other benefits for the poor and middle class.
With no help from fellow Congressional Democrats and the opposition from Conservatives who vowed, regardless of the pain it causes America, to stop every initiative, managed to maneuver Vladimir Putin into supporting a successful plan to take chemicals away from Syrian President Assad.
Finally began the process of normalizing relations with Cuba, ending a pointless 40 years of American isolation from Cuba (the rest of the world had already normalized relations like mature countries); of course he had to use Executive Order to accomplish this breakthrough. Conservatives continue to oppose this move.
Negotiated the Iranian Nuclear Agreement that reversed Iran's attempts to acquire nuclear weapons; opposed by ... Conservatives, of course. In January 2016, the Iranians met the terms of the agreement in dismantling their nuclear weapons capability.
Convinced China to join with the United States (and hundreds of other nations) in agreeing to accept the Paris Accord to limit greenhouse gases enough to stop climate change from going over a threshold, which if surpassed, would lead to irreversible temperature increases and world-wide disaster.
President Obama Fulfills Republican Economic Promises from 2012!
THIS IS IRONY IN ITS FULL GLORY! DURING THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL campaign, Gov. Mitt Romney, other presidential hopefuls, and the GOP platform made several promises about how they would grow the economy if they were elected. (Keep in mind the backdrop of the following is that the GOP promised before Obama took office in 2008 not to let him even one of his economic, foreign policy, and domestic goals, regardless of the damage that causes America in the process; they have tried VERY HARD to try to keep their word.)
Mitt Romney pledged to bring unemployment down to 6% by the end of 2016. - President Obama brought unemployment DOWN to 5% and less by the end of 2015, a FULL YEAR earlier.
Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich promised gas prices below $2.50 a gallon and the GOP platform called for more domestic oil production. - Under President Obama's watch in the next four years, oil production SURGED and gas prices fell BELOW $1.99 for a brief period between Jan and Mar 2016, and gas prices are now only at $2.20 per gallon and falling again.
Paul Ryan said the he and Mitt Romney will "protect and strengthen Medicare so that the promises that were made that people organize their retirements around, like my mom, will be promises that are kept.” - In Fact, largely due to President Obama's Affordable Care Act Medicare has significantly improved the program’s financial outlook; for example Medicare’s Hospital Insurance trust fund’s solvency has been extended by 13 years.
In 2011, Tim Pawlenty said about economic growth "“Well, if China can have 5 percent growth, and India can have 5 percent growth, and Brazil can have 5 percent growth, the United States of America can have 5 percent growth” - While long-term growth at 3.5% or more almost always leads to economic turmoil and often recessions (which is what China is now facing), short-term growth of 5% is generally a very good thing. With that in mind, note that in the 3rd Quarter, 2014, the economy under President Obama did reach 5%. Obama's long-term growth is a much more sustainable 2.5%.
From a 2010 pledge, the GOP said "“We will curb Washington’s spending habits and promote job creation, bring down the deficit, and build long-term fiscal stability.” - In spite of several deficit busting, job killing proposals from the Republican controlled House, President Obama managed to 1) steadily decrease the deficit after pulling America out of a near depression and 2) add over 12 million jobs to the economy, more that what was lost under the GOP-inspired Great Recession of 2008.
Impact of Conservative PBO Propaganda
THIS CNN/ORC INSTANT POLL CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES the effect of a sustained propaganda program by the GOP. President Obama's job approval ratings have been in the tank for much of his presidency. YET, like with the Obamacare, which has had a similar fate, when you look at the details it is clear his only detractors are the 30% or so on far-Right.
With the two exceptions of gun policy and immigration, for each of the major categories the poll surveyed as to whether PBO achieved (not if you like or dislike) his goals, it is a resounding YES. The same is true for ALL of the policy areas measured as to whether you APPROVE of the direction President Obama is taking the country!!
SUMMARY OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- How much more wrong can Conservatives get? Obamacare cost plummeting (CBO), not skyrocketing; uninsured rate plummeting, not remaining steady as predicted by Cs; premium cost growth below historic levels, not skyrocketing; more competition between providers, not less; the list goes on, no wonder Republican candidates stopped talking about it.
- Launched a budding, profitable clean-energy revolution
- Cut taxes on poor and middle income taxpayers while raising them on the rich
- Cut healthcare costs
- Instituted a program that will allow almost all Americans access to health insurance
- Cut the deficit in half
- Allowed gays to serve openly in the military
- Worked toward marriage equality in most States
- Began implementation, by Executive Order, those portions of the Senate bi-partisan immigration plan (successfully blocked by House Conservatives) which the law allows
- Historic NEGOTIATED deal to stop Iran's Nuclear Program signed
- As a result, opened up fruitful dialog with an ages old enemy and got our IRANINAN hostages returned in exchange for a few minor criminals
- Negotiated return of 4 American hostages held by Iran - 1/16/16
- Vetoed the Conservative repeal of ACA - 1/8/16
- Of the 13 modern presidents scored, PBO ranks in middle 68% while Presidents Carter (worst) and W. Bush rank in bottom 16%. Presidents Johnson (best), Roosevelt, and Eisenhower rank in top 16% - 12/21/15
- PBO has scored another great success for his administration - an agreed upon climate change protocol that is enforceable among almost 200 nations. - 12/12/15
- Draft climate change framework between the world's nations who know a climate change disaster is going to happen unless they do something was posted today. This has been one of PBO's biggest policy goals; one the lonely Right thinks is vapor and fixing it will do even greater harm. - 12/5/15
- Added another 212,000 jobs and unemployment stayed at 5%. For the president who can't add jobs, where did the 12 million since the recession come from? - 12/4/15
- Completed the Trans-Pacific Free-Trade agreement - 10/5/15
- Establish paid sick leave requirement for federal contractors - 9/7/15
- Unemployment fell to 5.1% after adding a 173,000 more jobs in August. This brings the total jobs gained since the Great Recession of 2008 at the end of President Bush's term to about 9 million with 18 months to go or ~1.4 million/yr. Compare that to Carter (~2.3 million/yr); Reagan (~0.9 million/yr); H. W. Bush (~0.3 million/yr); Clinton (~2.6 million/yr); W. Bush (~ -0.03 million/yr) - 9/4/15
- President Obama now has enough Democratic support in the Senate to prevent an override of his veto, should the Republicans make good on their promise to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal. He needs four more to prevent the Rs from even passing such a measure. - 9/3/15
- According to the IAEA, Iran is still living up to nuclear deal made with PBO in November 2013 (see way down below) - 6/20/15
- JUST IN - Contrary to popular propaganda, President Obama's helped the economy recover from the Great 2008 Recession 1.5 years sooner (based on GDP per capita) than similar historic recessions.- 4/30/15
- President Obama finally ended 4 decades of stupid diplomacy by, through executive action of course, opening diplomatic relations again with Cuba - Dec 2014
- Obama quickly retaliates to North Korean cyber attack and condemns Sony and theater chains cowardly response to it - 12/19 - 12/31/14
- Factory output exceeds pre-recession peak - 12/15/14
- Obama pulls off the unthinkable, getting a coalition of Arab states to fight against follow Sunnis. - 9/23/14
- Corporations earn record profits under President Obama - 9/20/14
- Obama Does It Right with ISIS - 9/14/14
- Obama's Secret Foreign Policy Successes - 8/7/14
- Obama's Job Approval Rating Is Going Up, in spite of all of the news - 6/6/14 (OK, they're going down again 7/15/14)
- Energy Program Achievements - 5/5/2014
- Report on Obamacare - 4/28/2014
- Report on Deficit
- Report on the 2013 Jobs numbers
- Analysis of the survey results
- Updated annual statistics
- Obama, and other world leaders, secured an agreement with Iran to end their non-peaceful nuclear program - 23 Nov 13
- Obama stands his ground against inappropriate legislative tactics - 18 Oct 13
- Obama talks to Iranian President after being snubbed - 28 Sep 13
- Obama forces action on Syrian Chemical Warfare - 27 Sep 13
- Snapshots in Time - 2 Aug 13
- Obamameter - 25 Jul 13
- Obamacare - 20 Jul 13
POLITIFACT'S OBAMAMETER http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/
Promises Kept if Full
Promises Kept in Part (Compromise)
In The Works
Not Yet Rated
Total Promises Under Consideration
SNAPSHOTS IN TIME
JULY 27, 2012: CNN MONEY POSTED a series of snapshot charts comparing how things were when President Obama took office and today. While I can't present the charts themselves, I can present the begining and ending positions and speak to each a little.
BEGINNING AND MIDTERM
Economic Growth Rate
1st Qrt 2009: - negative 5.9%
Growth: ~ 1.7%/yr through Dec 2011
Growth: ~ 2%/yr through Sep 2016
Jobs Lost 1st Qtr 2009: 2.3 million (total lost during Bush - 4.4 million)
Jobs lost the rest of 2009: 2.6 million
Jobs gained since 2010: 13.1 million through Nov 2016
End of Jan 2009: 7.9
End of Mar 2009: 8.7%
End of Nov 2016: 4.6%
National Median Home Price
Jan 2006: $244,900
1st Qtr 2009: $205,100
Oct 2016: $304,500
Jan 2009: 66,777
Peak Sep 2010: 100,000
Nov 2015: ~ 33,000
Jan 2009: 0%
Deflation from Mar - Oct 2009
Apr 2014: 2% (high-3.9% Sep 2011)
Jun 2008: $4.09/gal
Jan 2009: $3.50/gal
Dec 21, 2013: 3.67/gal
Dow Jones Stock Average
Mar 9, 2009: 6547
Jul 27, 2012: 13,075
Mar 26, 2014: 16,269
Interest Rates - 10 Year Treasury Yield
Jan 2009: 4.46%
Jul 2012: 1.49%
May 2014: 2.56%
Industrial Production Index
Jan 2009: 87.4
Mar 2009: 83
Feb 2014: 101.6
Declined about 0.75% per Qtr in 1st Qtr and 2nd Qtr 2009
Increased about 0.5% per Qtr from 1st Qtr 2010 thru 4th Qtr 2010.
From 2011 - Sep 2013: Increased about 0.5% per Qtr
Public Debt as a % of GDP
2009: 63% of GDP
2014: 77% of GDP
2014: 62.5% of GDP
Government Spending as a % of GDP
2009: 42.8% of GDP
2011: 40.5% of GDP
2013: 36% of GDP
Deficit as a % if GDP
2009: 10.1% of GDP
2011: 8.7% of GDP
2013: 4.1% of GDP!
Job Approval Rating Improving
6/6/2014: I have been watching Obama's various approval ratings for quite awhile now and was surprised, given the massive propaganda campaign against him, to see his Overall Job Approval rating improving. The polls I just looked at go back to the beginning of March 2014; while there have been a couple of ties, Obama didn't didn't get a positive approval rating until April 3 and 9, when he got a +1; the next positive was May 6, a +2. After that he has had four more, the last on on June 6 at +4. Overall, the ratings ranges from a +4 to a -18. Now what is interesting is which polls he has gotten positive ratings in.
When polls are taken, different demographics are used. The most general is "All" or "A", which is just a random sampling from the total population. The next restrictive is "Registered Voters" or "RV" followed by "Likely Voters" or "LV". It is the LV which are most important because those are the people most likely to change the politics of America. Of the 102 polls I just looked at, 33 are from the demographic of Likely Voters. Every one of the positive Obama approval ratings and all but one of the ties were from this demographic. Using a weighted average of the last 13 polls, Obama's Job Approval rating is -4, with a confidence level of +-1. Back up just 10 days, and it drops to -6 with the same confidence level.
If this trend improves, it is very good news for the Democrats.
IS THAT A PICTURE OF A FAILING PRESIDENCY?
PERSONALLY, I DON'T THINK SO! But, before I get into that, let me state four things:
- Because President Obama's recovery program could not begin until March 2009, its results would not be felt until at least Apr 2009, if not much later.
- As a consequence, all data for the first three months (1st Qtr) of 2009 and prior belong to President Bush and the conservative economic program
- Even though the Democrats held a majority in Congress the last two years of President Bush's term, they could not control what bills were placed in front of him to be signed into law; they only had control over what would not. Conservatives, because of their abuse of the filibuster in the Senate, held an equal power of denial as the Democrats, just as they do today.
- As a consequence, in 2007 and 2008, the only legislation which became law was legislation to which both Parties and the President agreed.
DIRECT MILITARY LEADERS TO END THE WAR IN IRAQ
JANUARY 21, 2009: PRESIDENT OBAMA kept his promise to end the war in Iraq. After a meeting on his first day in office with his cabinet and military commanders, President Obama reported, "The meeting was productive and I very much appreciated receiving assessments from these experienced and dedicated individuals. During the discussion, I asked the military leadership to engage in additional planning necessary to execute a responsible military draw-down from Iraq."
END TORTURE AND EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION AS A MEANS OF INTERROGATION
JANUARY 22, 2009: PRESIDENT OBAMA issued Executive Order #13491 that ended these practices, fulling a longstanding campaign promise.
The executive order said that prisoners "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment)." It also specifically nullifies interpretations of federal law on interrogations "issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009" under President George W. Bush.
The executive order brings the CIA into line with U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogation. This limits interrogators to humane techniques, a standard that already applies as a matter of law to the U.S. military.
In addition, Obama created a High Value Interrogation Group to manage the debriefing of the most important suspected terrorist captives using humane, non-coercive techniques. While there is no official policy of abuse anymore, it will still take strong leadership from the president on down to prevent it from happening.
THE MUCH MALIGNED STIMULUS
February 17, 2009: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) - The goal of this initiative was, in conjunction with TARP, to prevent America from entering a depression of the size equal to or greater than that of the Great 1929 Depression; a course most economist of any merit said we were on. Here are facts Conservatives want you quickly to forget and that Democrats have not found an effective way to present:
- In Nov 2008, President Bush and the Conservative economic policy lost 533,000 jobs!
- In Dec 2008, President Bush and the Conservative economic policy lost another 524,000 jobs!
- In all of 2008, President Bush and the Conservative economic policy lost a total of 2,600,000 jobs!
- In Jan 2009, when President Bush left the White House, he lost yet another 598,000 job!
- In Jan 2009, when President Bush left the White House, he had increased unemployment from in the low 5% to 7.6% and climbing ... FAST!
- When President Obama took office, basically in February 2009, the job loss caused by President Bush and the Conservative economic policy in what is now the Great 2009 Bush Recession was accelerating; it hadn't hit its peak yet and wasn't going to for another two month; numbers that somehow the Democrats have let the Conservatives lay at the feet of President Obama.
- The ARRA was based on 3rd Quarter, 2008 economic data, the only solid data available at the time; it predicted a moderate recession. The ARRA reflected that.
If the 3rd Quarter data had been accurate, the ARRA would have been adequate. As it was, it was sufficient to put the brakes on a run-away train let loose by the previous administration in less than 10 months; an unheard of feat for financial-type depression/recessions.
EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS TEMPORARILY SUSPEND TAXING THESE BENEFITS
February 17, 2009: This promise was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
EXPAND THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT
February 17, 2009: As part of ARRA, President Obama fulfilled 2/3rds of this promise with an expansion of the earned income tax credit for workers without children and taxpayers with three or more children.
REVERSE RESTRICTIONS ON STEM-CELL RESEARCH
MARCH 9, 2009: President Obama promised to "... lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001 through executive order ... ". On March 9, 2009, he signed such an Executive Order.
INCENTIVES FOR LOANS TO SMALL BUSINESSES THROUGH THE SBA WERE EXPANDED
MARCH 16, 2009: President Obama has said "Our recovery in the present and our prosperity in the future depend upon the success of America's small businesses and entrepreneurs," To help provide for this success, Obama said he would increase the amount the SBA would guarantee to private lenders making loans under Small Business Administration (SBA) programs. Previously, the federal government would guarantee 85 percent for loans at or below $150,000 and up to 75 percent for larger loans. Under the new program, the government will guarantee up to 90 percent of all loans for a limited time. The money for the programs will come from the economic stimulus package, aka, "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act", and from money already approved for use by the Treasury Department.
EXPAND "SERVE AMERICA" ACT TO INCLUDED SENIOR CITIZENS
April 21, 2009: President Obama, when campaigning for that office, promised to expand a volunteer program aimed at keeping seniors active in their communities. On April 21, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, a large expansion of the national service program, which included provisions that kept Obama's promise to seniors.
INCREASE MINORITY ACCESS TO CAPITAL
August 18, 2009: President Obama announced his plan in increase access to contracting opportunites by minority-owned, small businesses that keeps his pledge to "Strengthen Small Business Administration programs that provide capital to minority-owned businesses, support outreach programs that help minority business owners apply for loans, and work to encourage the growth and capacity of minority firms."
Historically and still today, minority and women-owned, small businesses have a harder time attracting contracts than their no better qualified white, male owned businesses of the same size therefore promting President Obama's action, to the disgruntlement of Conservatives. As of November 13, 2009, $14.7 billion had been distributed in the form of stimulus contracts with the help of the Small Business Administration.
CREATE A $3,000 TAX CREDIT FOR COMPANIES THAT ADD JOBS
March 18, 2010: This was a very tough promise to fulfill, and it ended up being a compromise. Congress was not willing to go along with this job creating idea for whatever reason and voted down its many variations including the one that was supposed to be part of the stimulus bill. In the in end, on March 18, President Obama signed into law the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act which included provisions up to a $1,000 rebate for each new employee hired under certain conditions and an exemption from paying social security taxes, up to $6,600, on previously unemployed workers that were hired in 2010.
March 23, 2010: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, and the March 30, 2010, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, comprise what Conservatives would like to derisively call "Obama Care." I would encourage President Obama and Democrats to embrace the term and use it for their own, it has been done before, because this program, even watered-down, is something they can be proud of!
As to popularity, well that is a different story. Since it's passage, Obama Care's approval rating has held fairly steady at about 43%, with a slight rally from Jun to Sep 2010, the high was 50%, while it's disapproval rating has fluctuated between 35% in July 2010 and 50% in Jan 2011, but has averaged around 43% as well; the slack is taken up with Undecided. As of Aug 2011, Approval is 39% and Disapproval is 44%; the month before, it was 42%/43%, respectively. I suspect the reason is, in addition to the Conservatives long, drawn-out propaganda campaign against health care reform, is the lack of understanding by the American people of what the reform brought to the table, a recent Kaiser Health survey clearly points this out. By implication, this means that President Obama and the Democrats need to get on the ball and start making sure the American people understand all of the good Obama Care does for them. So, what is that good:
The plan is not a government takeover of health care like in Canada or Britain. This is the biggest myth the Conservatives were able to convince Americans was true and many Americans still believe this is true today! It isn't!. At one point in time, early in the debate, the far left wanted true "one-payer" government health care vis-a-vis Medicare. That idea died very quickly. Conservatives, however, were successful in making Americans believe, falsely, that this is what the Democrats were attempting to pass. Simply not true. What was passed is not much different than how people buy insurance today; it is not even as good as how the Conservative federal politicians purchase their insurance.
Insurance companies will be regulated more heavily. They will be told the minimum services they must cover, including preventive care. They will have to pay out a certain percentage of premiums for patient care. By 2014, when the exchanges open, insurers won't be able to deny customers for pre-existing conditions. This two points are HUGE benefits to Americans which even Conservatives like, but hate to admit and will repeal if given the chance. They do not want to tie insurers hands by making sure Americans get a minimum set of services for their money.
Everyone will have to have health insurance or pay a fine, a requirement known as the individual mandate.The fine for not having insurance would be a minimum of $695 per person per year, with exemptions for financial hardship and other special cases. Without this mandate to prevent freeloading by healthy Americans, the cost of health care will skyrocket.
Lower income Americans will get help with their premiums. The government intends to cap premiums for people who make below a certain income. For people who buy insurance on the exchanges, a family of four making $88,000 would have a cap of 9.5 percent of their income. Lower incomes would have lower caps. This is a provision very few Americans are aware of.
Employers will not be required to buy insurance for their employees, but large employers may be subject to fines if they don't provide insurance. But Congress wanted to encourage employers, especially large employers, to offer insurance. So they created a fine for employers with more than 50 workers: If those employees are forced to buy insurance on the exchanges and qualify for a low-income credit from the government, then the employer would have to pay a fine. Fines are calculated based on number of employees; for large firms, the fines could be significant.
The vast majority of people will not see significant declines in premiums nor will they see significant increases in premiums. When President Obama talks about premiums going down, he usually means they won't go up as much as they would otherwise. For the four out of five people who get their insurance through their employer, the savings would land in the 0 to 3 percent range by 2016, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO. People who buy insurance on their own, but who don't qualify for government subsidies, could actually see their premiums rise by as much as 10 to 13 percent, but that's largely because they'll be getting beefed-up policies that would pay for more basic services, especially preventive care. Low-income people who qualify for new credits to buy insurance would see the biggest drops.
The government-run Medicare program will keep paying medical bills for seniors, but it will begin implementing cost controls on health care providers, mostly through penalties and incentives.(These cost controls are probably the Medicare dollars Michelle Bachmann says the Democrats are stealing.) 1) The legislation would reduce payments for hospital-acquired infections or preventable hospital admissions; 2) for Medicare Advantage, the federal government intends to reduce extra payments; 3) taking away subsidies to private insurance companies.
Medicaid, a joint federal-state program for the poor, will cover all of the poor, instead of just a few groups the way it currently does. Right now, to qualify for Medicaid, a person has to be poor and also disabled, elderly, pregnant or a child. Under the new plan, all poor adults would qualify; something else most Americans don't know about.
You will not be taxed for the company provided portion of medical benefits. This is another great myth propagated by the Conservatives, I just heard it from a well educated business person just last week. It simply isn't true but sure is a good indication of how effective the Conservative propaganda machine is. The reason this myth abounds is that the IRS will require the amount of the premiums be reported on the employee's W-2, but this is to help with compliance; they will not be added to taxable income, however. Nice try, Conservatives.
Illegal immigrants are not eligible for benefits under Obama Care. Another Conservative Obama Care myth busted!
Some of the major improvements in the delivery of health care that Obama Care does deliver are:
- Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. This becomes effective in 2014, but, in its place, a high-risk pool has been established for uninsured people with pre-existing conditions. [Will not go into effect if Supreme Court rules against Obamacare]
- Provide tax credits to help middly and low-income tax payers afford health insurance.The subsidies will take effect in 2014 and are available to Americans who buy insurance on the exchange, which will be virtual marketplaces for health plans. The exchanges are designed to serve people who do not already have insurance through their employer and who are not covered by a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid. [Will not go into effect if Supreme Court rules against Obamacare]
Require large employers to contribute to a national health plan. This provision also starts in 2014 and provides the companies of 50 or more employees who do not provide health insurance must pay a fine of $2000 per employee, excluding the first 30, if there is at least one full-time employee receives a public subsidy to purchase health insurance.
Requires that all children have health insurance coverage. This part of Obama Care is currently in force. The law allows dependents up to age 26 to remain on parents health care plans. [Will probably be repealed if Supreme Court rules against Obamacare]
Expand eligibility for Medicaid. Will become effective in 2014. Historically, Medicaid coverage has been focused primarily on pregnant women, children and the disabled. Under the new law, eligibility will be expanded to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. New beneficiaries will be assured a package that includes essential health benefits. [Will not go into effect if Supreme Court rules against Obamacare]
Health insurers must disclose how much of their premium goes toward patient care. This provision is now in force. Obama Care requires health insurance providers to report how much they spend on payments for clinical coverage, activities that improve health care quality, and "all other non-claims costs." Further, starting in 2011, companies that provide insurance for the small group and individual market must issue rebates if they do not spend at least 80 percent of the premium revenue on medical care. For the large group market, the threshold is 85 percent. The rebate amount is based on the premium revenue and by how much the provider falls short of the prescribed thresholds.
Establish an independent health institute to provide accurate and objective information. This rule is currently in effect and it creates a new entity which will set priorities and conduct research. It will be independent, governed by a board of experts and stakeholders; the research will be peer-reviewed and made public.
It is intended that this research will lower costs by advising against expensive procedures that don't improve people's health. But critics have suggested that the effort could lead the United States down a slippery slope in which experts insert themselves between doctors and patients and micromanage what treatments should be used -- especially with regard to end-of-life decisions; similar to what private insurance companies do today.
Faced with such concerns, the bill's authors took special care to require any findings to be advisory only, rather than being binding on doctors or insurance companies.Responding to the critics' allegations of "death panels," the law prevents the use of any findings "in a manner that treats extending the life of an elderly, disabled, or terminally ill individual as of lower value than extending the life of an individual who is younger, non-disabled, or not terminally ill."
Increase profits for hospitals and doctors. This is a natural outcome of Obama Care and the reasons are simple to understand; they rest on the fact that more people will be insured, especially the poor. Between the subsidies leading to large increases in the number of people under private insurance and increasing the scope of Medicaid for the indigent, hospitals and doctors will see a significant rise in their income. For the hospitals and doctors, a lot of the emergency room care that was provided to uninsured Americans went unpaid; that will be virtually eliminated because, as has been demonstrated in Massachusetts, the poor will be paid by Medicare and the others will be paid by private insurance. 2) there will simply many more insured Americans, 30 million of them, which will drive down emergency room visits, lowering costs, and transferring payments from lower Medicaid to higher private insurance.
MARCH 27, 2012: THE CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT WILL DECIDE 1) if the Supreme Court has jurisdiction at this time, 2) whether the insurance mandate is Constitutional, 3) whether the rest of Obamacare can be kept in force if the Court does not uphold the individual mandate, and 4) whether the expansion of Medicaid is Constitutional.
JUNE 2012: THE SUPREME COURT HELD THAT 1) the Court did have jurisdiction, 2) the insurance mandate IS Constitutional, 3) no longer applicable, and 4) the expansion of Medicaid relative to the State's requirement to participate was Unconstitutional.
MAY 2013 UPDATE: CALIFORNIA AND A COUPLE OF OTHER STATES have released their proposed rates for people signing up to the Obamacare Insurance Exchange programs which begin Jan 1, 2014 but can be joined starting Oct 1, 2013. In each case, the overall premiums are coming in lower than expected.
JUNE 2013: THE CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MADICAID SERVICES (CMS) published data based on actual experience in their 2nd Annual Report. They found, among other things:
- Part B (certain medical costs) premiums had been increasing at a 2% annual rate will decrease in 2013.
- So far, seniors have saved $5.7 billion in prescription drug costs.
- 34 million Medicare recipients have benefitted from the now free preventative care exams
- Has and will achieve $200 billion in short-term savings through 2016 from the various efficiencies detailed in the Act.
- Has and will save Medicare recipients $208 billion by 2020 in lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
I have more detailed information in my hub titled Obamacare May Start A Winning Streak! The Insurance Premiums Are Starting to Come Out ... And They Are Down.
JULY 2013: You can add New York State to the list of California, Washington, and Oregon which are the states referred to in the May 2013 update.
CLOSE THE MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN "DOUGHNUT HOLE"
March 30, 2010: AS PART of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which President Obama signed into law on March 23 and 30, 2010, respectively, the 'doughnut hole' in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program was officially closed; just as President Obama promised it would be. This "doughnut hole" is an artifact of President Bush's unpaid for Part D Prescription Drug Program that left seniors holding the bad for the whole cost of their drugs while still paying the Part D premiums to insurance companies.
Initially, seniors pay the first $310. Then, for the next $2,520, seniors are responsible for 25% of the cost. After that, the seniors are on their own until they have spent a total of $4,550 of their own money; this is the "doughnut hole". From this point on, seniors pay only 5% of the cost.
When President Obama's fix is fully implemented, about 2020, seniors will pay the 25% co-pay at all times until the out-of-pocket limit of $4,550 is reached.
REQUIRE ECONOMIC JUSTIFICATION FOR TAX
March 30, 2010: This strange sounding action was a little known part of Obama Care and had nothing to do with health care but was expected to bring in about $4.5 billion over 10 years to help pay for the health care program. This fulfills an Obama promise to "Adopt the economic substance doctrine, a policy that states that tax changes must have significant economic justification, as a federal law."
Basically what this law does is prevent companies, primarily large corporations, from structuring a transaction in such a way that the only benefit to that unorthodox structure, while legal, is the tax benefit itself. Do Conservatives support this initiative? I haven't heard.
INCREASE FUNDING FOR PROGRAMS THAT CONSERVE LANDS AND HABITATS FOR SELECTED SPECIES
APRIL 16, 2010: During his 2008 presidential campaign, President Barack Obama promised to make major changes to habitat conservation programs. He promised to:
- "Fight to increase funding for the Conservation Security Program and the major set-aside programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, and Grasslands Reserve Program, so that rental rates can compete with rising commodity prices.”
- "Direct the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to place a special emphasis on restoration of habitat for important game species associated with specific regions of the United States, such as bobwhite quail and Eastern and Osceola turkey habitat in the South, ruffed grouse habitat in the Northeast, and sage grouse and pronghorn antelope habitat in the West."
- "Support the use of tax incentives and other financial mechanisms to encourage private landowners to restore and protect habitat." (source: Politifact)
During the first two years of his administration, President Obama worked to fulfill this promise. Most of the work was accomplished in appropriations for 2009 and 2010 where he substantially increased funding for three out of four major conservation programs. On April 16, 2010, Obama signed signed a memorandum establishing the America"s Great Outdoors Initiative, a strategy to work with public and private entities to promote wilderness conservation and preservation and raise awareness of the outdoors. This action more or less capped his efforts to keep this promise.
ESTABLISH A CREDIT CARD BILL OF RIGHTS
MAY 20, 2010: President Obaman fulfills another campaign promise, probably one of those "regulations that get in the way of hiring", the Conservatives include in their long list of regulations to repeal, to protect Americans from the predatory credit card industry. He said it is time to make reforms to the credit card industry that would "ban unilateral changes ... apply interest rate increases only to future debt ... prohibit interest on fees ... prohibit 'universal defaults' (whereby a credit card raises its rates because the consumer was late paying a different creditor) ... require prompt and fair crediting of cardholder payments."
THE DODD-FRANK WALL STREET REFORM AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT of 2010
July 21, 2010: President Obama signed the first major piece of legislation aimed at protecting middle America from the abuses of Wall Street and those with special access to wealth. In his campaign, candidate Obama said:
" I'll put in place the common-sense regulations and rules of the road I've been calling for since March -- rules that will keep our market free, fair, and honest; rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in our corporate boardrooms."
With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, a watered-down version of the President Obama's original vision, he kept his promise. The Dodd-Frank Act, among other things, provides for:
- The creation of a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, a cabinet level organization that, for the first time, provides a high level institution in the federal government whose sole job it is is to look out for the interests for the average American; a concept opposed, understanably so, by big business and, less understandably so, since they are supposed to for the individual American, the Conservatives. Making big business responsible to act ethicallyhurts profits, don't you see.
- New mortgages rules were put into place to make, given many refused to do it on their own, to the great detriment of the country, lenders actually verify income, check credit history, and make sure homebuyers can actually afford the homes they are being sold. Can you imagine having to make a lender do this, but, abuse often leads to these kinds of regulations that Conservatives cry crocadile tears over. It also limits how much of a banks portfolio can be sold off to others, thereby reducing their own risk to the loans they just made; rules that used to be their until the Conservatives dismantled them in the name of "deregulation"
- Create a Financial Stability Oversight Council to make recommendations to the Federal Reserve for how to keep the economy from crashing by keeping tabs on firms that are deeply interconnected within the financial system.
- Give the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation a mechanism to unwind "failing systemically significant financial companies."
- Direct the Federal Reserve to issue rules that ensure that the "fees charged to merchants by credit card companies for credit or debit card transactions are reasonable and proportional to the cost of processing those transactions."
- Institutes the "Volcker Rule".Named after the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, this new rule prohibits banks from engaging in proprietary trading, i.e. trading the bank's money to turn a profit. This rule, which brings back some of the theory of the defucnt Glass-Stegall Act dismantled by the Conservatives and so integral to the 2008 financial collapse, tries to limit the conflict of interest banks have with their customers. The rules also would also limit banks' relationships with hedge funds and private equity funds; another major reason for the Great 2008 Bush Recession.
- Gives the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission, authority to regulate over-the-counter derivatives. Banks would also be prohibited from trading certain forms of derivatives, and most of the trading must occur on transparent exchanges. Further, Hedge Funds would have to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and report their activities. Abuse of deriviatives and the lack of regulation over hedge funds were a third major cause of the the recession.
Conservatives hate each and every one of these common sense regulations and actions; I don't understand why, but, they do.
FULLY FUND THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION and OTHER VA PROMISES
Dec 9, 2010: President Obama fulfilled this promise when he signed legislation providing the VA $109.6 billion in funding for 2010. He also provided $48.2 billion in advance appropriations for 2011 and put $50.3 billion of advanced appropriation in his 2011 budget for 2012.
On October 22, 2009, President Obama signed another law and kept another promise; the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009. This act guarantees the VA with much more stable funding by putting them on a two-year budget cycle. He began funding this with the $48.2 billion mentioned above.
FULLY FUND THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
Dec 16, 2010: Like with the VA funding, President Obama promised to fund the Violence Against Women Act; he did this when he signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010.
EXTEND CHILD TAX CREDIT AND FIX MARRIAGE-PENALTY TAX
Dec 17, 2010: As part of the compromise with Conservatives, President Obama kept the following promise that he "will extend aspects of the Bush tax cuts such as child credit expansions and changes to marriage bonuses and penalties." While he preferred to have make these permanent, along with the rest of the middle-class tax cuts, they were extended two-years.
EXTEND BUSH TAX CUTS FOR LOWER AND MIDDLE-CLASS TAX PAYERS
Dec 17, 2010: During his 2008 campaign, then-Senator Obama promised to extend the Bush tax cuts for lower and middle-class tax payers while allowing those for single people making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000 to expire. In his December compromise with Conservatives was able to extend the tax cuts he wanted, but not elimate those he did not want. The battle will resume December 2012.
REPEAL OF THE DISCRIMINATORY "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" LAW
December 22, 2010: On September 20, 2011, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was officially banned in the military. This is a result from Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (H.R. 2965, S. 4023), one of President Obama's four signature achievements, the other three being the Stimulus, Obama Care and Consumer Protection Act, is the repeal of the 1993 language in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 that banned homosexuals from being part of the military. In a compromise with social Conservatives, the religious, and the combat commanders in the military, President Clinton signed the final Act which contained this discrimatory text, by issuing Defense Directive 1304.26, aka the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" policy.
This is another of Obama's great initiatives, from this "do nothing" president that Conservatives are fuming about; social Conservatives, this time; fiscal Conservatives may actually support the repeal but are keeping their mouths shut. This stance by social conservatives to prevent homosexuals from being full members of society is understandable however for other civil right laws they, and evangelical as well as fundelmentalist Christians, fought tooth and nail against over the years are 1) making slavery illegal, 2) allowing blacks and whites marry, 3) social security, 4) medicare, 5) the Civil Rights Act, 6) allowing homosexuals who love each other to marry each other (stll being fought out), etc.
IMPLEMENT "WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESS" CONTRACTING PROGRAM
February 14, 2011: Another promise kept by President Obama when a rule first proposed by President Clinton will finally go into effect. President Obama had promised to " ...implement the Women Owned Business contracting program that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, but has yet to be implemented by the Bush Administration. The program seeks to get more women-owned businesses to compete for federal contracts." The Bush Administration and Conservative Congress tabled this initiative for eight years.
CAPTURE OR KILL OSAMA BIN LADEN
MAY 2, 2011: At the 2nd Presidential debate in Oct. 2008, candidate Obama told the nation that
"...And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act, and we will take them out....".
Upon assuming office, he reinvigorated the covert programs against terrorists and terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan that had waned during the prosecution of the Iraq war. On May 1, 2011, Navy Seal Team 6 carried out the orders issued by the President and raided the bin Laden compound and killed him. During that period and since, the new covert program has been responsible for 90% of the top al-Qaida leadership.
PRESIDENT OBAMA STRENGTHENS ANTITRUST ENFORCEMENT
JULY 2011: During his campaign, then Senator Obama said he "Will reinvigorate antitrust enforcement, which is how we ensure that capitalism works for consumers." In July 2010, Christine A. Varney, whom Obama had appointed as head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division to renew antitrust enforcement, announced, as she left her post to return to private practice, she had completed her mission.
Since then, the proof has been in the pudding with reporting that shows Varney came in swinging. She immediately reversed the Bush administrations policy to not pursue antitrust actions and to remove the hurdles his administration put in place for others to bring suit. There have been more mergers stopped in the last three years than in the whole of the Bush administration, actions taken against verticle mergers which were avoided previously, and for the year ending Sep 30, 2011, more than 90 criminal cases filed for price rigging and other such illegal activity, more than any other year in the last 20 years.
REQUIRE RENEWABLE ENERGY TO PROVIDE 10% OF AMERICA'S ENERGY BY 2012
July 15, 2011: Barack Obama promised that he will "require 10 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2012. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will establish a 10 percent federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that 10 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from clean, sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal by 2012." On July 15, 2011, Christina Kielich of the U.S. Department of Energy press office reported that the United States receives approximately 11 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. While this was a "low-hanging fruit" promise, given America was already well on its way to this goal, because of the 2008 recession, it might not have been made without the stimulus projects.
By the way, 99% of the renewable energy projects funded by the stimulus program succeeded, a fact buried beneath the Solyndra failure where the government lost a half a billion dollars but the omniscient private industry lost billions more.
- Another “oh btw”, only 1% of the renewable energy projects Obama funded actually failed; nobody mentions that 99% succeeded.
PRESIDENT OBAMA'S LIBYA POLICY PAY'S OFF!
SEPTEMBER 22, 2011: The United States re-opened its embassy in Tripoli, Libya after having closed it in February 2011 in response to raising tensions between pro- and anti-Qaddafi forces.
Libya was a no-win proposition for President Obama. No matter what he did, he was going to take great political heat from one side or another; the course Obama chose ended up leaving him vulnerable to critisism from both sides; lots of it. even from me (I wrote a letter). I was wrong, the Democrats were wrong, the Conservatives were wrong, everybody seemed to be wrong except President Obama and his foreign policy team. I am about ready to render what is turning into a lengthy explanation as to why I think so, but, I should really reserve it for a new hub, which I will. Let it be sufficient at this point to say I think President did himself and America proud.
RENOVATE PATENT AND COPYRIGHT LAWS
SEPTEMBER 2011: Candidate Obama promised "update and reform our copyright and patent systems to promote civic discourse, innovation and investment while ensuring that intellectual property owners are fairly treated." Has he done this? Sort of.
In September 2011, the America Invents Act was passed which addressed the patent side of the promise. It indeed made significant reforms in the patent system which experts feel largely meet Obama's promises. On the other hand, he is still trying to get something useful through Congress regarding Copyright. Happily, their attempt to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), which President Obama opposed, failed miserably do to fierce public pressure brought through, you guessed it, the Internet.
INCREASE SPECIAL OPERATION FORCES AND CIVIL AFFAIR UNITS
JANUARY 2012: Unlike all of the presidents before him until you get to President Kennedy and most of the senior military leadership, Barack Obama understood how undeclared wars founeed to be fought. During his campaign he said we need to "Build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, engineers, foreign area officers, and other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply."
It took almost losing the Iraq war for President Bush and the military leadership to recognize the old, cold-war tactics and operational plans simply don't work in conflicts like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It was special operations forces that brought down the Taliban, but that wasn't because the military was brilliant, it was because those were the only forces they could there in time to do anything, the cold-war forces were simply unprepared for war. As soon as they could, the Army moved the special ops forces out and brought the regular forces in and watched things go downhill from there.
Obama knew better and said so and then did something about it. He made sure senior military and defense leadership where staffed with special ops oriented leaders and he restructured his budgets to emphasize special operation and civil affairs units. Just today, with the Secretary of Defense Penetta announcing the $475 billion cut to the defense budget, it didn't touch special ops and related forces.
REVERSE THE DECLINE IN FAMILY INCOME
JUNE 13, 2012: In each each year of the Obama Presidency, median family income has grown, rather than decline as it did from 2000 to 2003 and again from 2007 to 2009.
FIRST-TIME UNEMPLOYMENT IS NOW NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER PRESIDENT AT THIS STAGE OF THEIR PRESIDENCY!
JUN 17, 2012: Once President Obama stabilized the economy by the end of March 2010, his first-unemployment filings, which measure the level of lay-offs nationwide, are no different than any President from President Ford forward. President Obama's average first-time UI claims is 2,422,000 while the average for the next presidents is 2,295,000. If you only count the four Republican presidents, their average is, 2,446,000 claims a quarter over the same eight quarters of their administrations, interesting, isn't it? And. President Obama is still facing a Republican political machine determined to make him a one-term president and as a result, keeping unemployment high.
NOVEMBER 6, 2012: WON RE-ELECTION TO THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES! In the process clarified what the People want government to do, besides govern that is. They want 1) a balanced approached to the debt and deficit problem including raising rates on the rich, 2) maintaining Obamacare, and 3) a continuation of his approach to foreign affairs. Further, the People sent an additional message to conservatives to change their ways by increasing the number of Democrats in the Senate rather giving the Republicans a majority as had been expected.
MADE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR MIDDLE CLASS PERMANENT AND RAISED TAXES ON WEALTHY
DECEMBER 31, 2012: Finally getting the compromise he sought, President Obama signed into law a bill that raised taxes to the Clinton level on couples making more than $400,000 while at the same time making permanent the Bush tax cuts on those earning less than that.
TAKES INITIATIVE ON GUN CONTROL
JANUARY 16, 2013: President Obama announced his initiatives for gun control following the Newtown children masscre that he would like to see Congress pass plus a series of executive actions he is able to take to raise the control of guns in America higher on the federal law enforcement radar screen. They include increased emphasis on federal and state contributions of information to the background check system, an order to federal agencies to trace all guns which come into their possession, maximize efforts to prosecute gun crimes, and 18 others. He also asked Congress to ban assault weapons, make background checks universal, and ban large capacity ammo magazines, among other things.
FEBRUARY 1, 2013: This isn't really an Obama accomplishment per se, but a follow-on to his stimulus program. The information present in the following few paragraphs come from the February 1, 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics Economic News Release. In it, the Jan 2013 unemployment rate was stated to have remained steady at 7.9% and that the non-farm employment had increased by 157,000.
The report then went a little deeper and noted that many of the major sub-statistics such as unemployment rates for blacks, whites, etc were relatively unchanged, as were the "employment-population ratio", the "civilian labor force participation rate", and persons employed part-time.
Importantly, however, is what did change. There are two other categories of unemployed persons that are also measured, 1) marginally attached and a subset of those 2) discouraged workers. Marginally attached workers 1) want to work, 2) will work if offered a job, and 3) had looked for work at least once within the previous five and fifty-two weeks. Discouraged workers are marginally attached workers but with the additional qualification that they aren't looking for work because they don't believe they can find work. The rest of the marginally attached hadn't searched for work because they were going to school or for other reasons.
In January 2013, there were 2.3 million marginally unattached unemployed, this down 15% from the year previous. Of the 2.3 million, 804,000 were discouraged workers, and that was down 32%! Both of those figures are impressive, especially the latter, and is indicative of an improving labor market, belying the stagnant unemployment rates.
Further good news data is as follows: Total non-farm employment increased 157,000 in Jan 2013 and average 181,000 for all of 2012. In January, the increases were in retail, construction, health care, and wholesale. It decreased slightly in retail and warehousing. Since reaching a low in January 2011, construction has gained 296,000 jobs. Of those, 99,000 were in the last four months, supporting other data that the housing market is finally coming back (including the increase in price of my two rental units up in Virginia, yeah, they are now worth more than I owe.)
Finally, the November 2012 report was revised upward from 161,000 to 247,000 and in December 2012, from 155,000 to 196,000. This is due to more data from businesses trickling in.
THE NATIOANAL DEBT DEFAULT IS AVOIDED
FEBRUARY 7, 2013: Last week the Republicans chose not to bring the country to its knees one more time by allowing a short-term extension to the debt ceiling crises, primarily due to President Obama's strategy of not giving an inch to their brinkmanship this time around. In the meantime, the Debt-to-GDP ratio will continue to decrease as it has done in each year of his Presidency.
FUNDING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY
TODAY, 5/29/2013, I SAW an article about Tesla Motors (TLSA); it caught my attention because I used to own stock in it, but sold it at around $30/share. This morning, it was selling at $110/share.
The reason I am including this in a hub on Obama's accomplishments is that Tesla was one of the innovative clean technology boondoggles that the opposition pointed to as a huge waste of taxpayer's money ... think Solendra. Weill, Tesla, the maker of high-end all electric cars, just paid back the $850 million government loan to develop this important technology. Tesla also posted their first quarterly profit since its formation in 2006.
I suspect, if one takes a close look, you will find more Teslas than Solendras coming from this stimulus program.
OBAMA FORCES SYRIAN'S TO TURN OVER CHEMICAL WEAPONS (we hope)
SEPTEMBER 27, 2013: The U.N. Security Council finally passed its first sanction against the Syrian government regarding its civil war with its own people. Specifically, the sanction was prohibiting Syria's use of chemical warfare in its fight to retain power. The vote was a result of an agreement reached between the United States and Syria's ally, Russia after President Obama threatened to take military action to hinder Bashar Assad's ability to use chemical weapons of mass destruction.
That Obama's saber rattling was the genesis of this outcome stands to reason for without,it, there is no incentive for Russia to come to the bargaining table ... none at all. It is sad to know that the Democratic doves and the Conservative Obama-haters, both blind to the reality of the world, almost scuttled the deal.
DIALOGUE OPENED WITH IRAN FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE 1970s
SEPTEMBER 28, 2013 - After being snubbed at the U.N. by the new Iranian President who wouldn't shake hands with him (after being pressured from hardliners from back home), President Obama still accepted a request from the Iranian President for a telephone call to open a dialogue that has been on hold for 40 years. Whether the Iranian President is serious, or if he can get the backing of his ruling religious masters in Iran, remains to be seen.
OBAMA WINS ONE FOR AMERICA
OCTOBER 18, 2013: Three times now, once in 1995, then in 2011, and finally again in 2013, Conservatives in Congress tried to bypass the intent of the creators of our Constitution and get their way through non-legislative means not contained in our fine document. In 1995 Clinton compromised a little but Conservatives got almost nothing except shutting down the government for almost 30 days total and adding billions to the national debt. So, given Clinton gave a little last time, Conservatives tried again in 2011 with the debt ceiling. This time Obama compromised a little and Conservatives got a lot that Obama didn't think would happen, the sequester; and America got its credit rating downgraded.
In 2013, however, Obama took a different tack, he refused to compromise. Conservatives shut down the government one more time, this time for 17 days at a cost of more than $8 billion dollars ... and got nothing for it except the lowest approval rating the Party has ever had and a lot of blame.
What did America get from Obama's refusal to negotiate? A precedence that the Constitution cannot be circumvented by an extreme group of politicians; that is a substantial outcome.
OBAMA'S IRAN DIPLOMACY PRODUCES RESULTS
NOVEMBER 23, 2013 EST: IRAN AGREED TO FREEZE ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM in exchange for the lifting of certain sanctions. This historic deal was struck early Sunday between Iran and six world powers, led by the United States, and negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry. The more sanctions will be lifted after a more formal agreement is worked out and Iran lives up to its promises.
(Courtesy of Time Magazine's March 30, 2015 article, Diplomacy of Distrust.) This was after President Bush and his administration may have had the same opportunity in 2003, right after the "shock and awe" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Shortly after that event two things happened, 1) Iran stopped its pursuit of a nuclear weapon, according to a 2007 intelligence assessment and 2) the Iranian regime sent President Bush a request to engage in talks; this was rebuffed by the Bush Administration and the rest is history. By the time President Obama in effect responded to the offer in 2009, the moment had been lost.
6/20/15: According to the IAEA, Iran is still living up to the agreement reached with President Obama in November 2013.
2013 JOBS REPORT IS IN
JANUARY !9, 2014: THE 2013 JOBS REPORT just came in; it has something for everybody ... again. Democrats will gleefully point to the fact that the unemployment rate plummeted from the politically incorrect number of 7% to a politically safe number of 6.7%. Conservatives, on the other hand will be joyful that job growth was only 74,000 and not the predicted 163,000.
The recovery calculus after a recession is Strength of Recovery = (# of successful majority Party policy proposals - # of majority Party policy mistakes) + (# of minority Party attempts to support the majority Party - # of attempts by the minority Party to obstruct the majority Party's policies); where policy means recovery policy and majority Party includes the President (I am not sure that has ever not been the case.) In the normal political climate that has existed after every recession prior to the Great 2008 Recession, both the majority and minority factors have been a positive number. But with the election of President Obama, strangely the minority Party factor went negative, so much so that the # of attempts to support is close to zero. It seems the minority Party had only two political goals they wanted to pursue, stop any and all of Obama's initiatives and obliterate Obamacare ... it is clear the minority Party is not your normal Republicans.
All-in-all, another 2.2 million jobs were added in 2013, the same as in 2012. For the four years of the recovery (normal for this kind of recession) roughly 7.5 million jobs have been added. Not enough to cover the 8.7 million lost in the two years of the recession (plus net new entrants). Next year, however, should see employment finally go into a net positive position using 2008 as a starting point; this despite the Obama successes minus the Obama failures minus the monumental Conservative obstructionism.
OBAMA PROMISED TO BRING DOWN THE DEFICIT, AND HE DID ... WELL, SORT OF.
1/27/2014: THE 40-YEAR AVERAGE FOR DISCRETIONARY SPENDING, as a percentage of GDP, is 8.4%. President Obama is currently at 6.8%, according to the non-partisan CBO, after topping out at 9.1% in his effort to keep America out of a depression. For comparison, President Bush began his Presidency at 6.1% and it only increased from there. The record was set by President Reagan, in 1983 at 10.0% of GDP!
Obama has more good news ahead of him, if the economy doesn't go south on him; the CBO predicts discretionary spending will fall to a 50-year low of 5.3% by 2023 before it starts creeping back up.
Now, all of this good news could turn-around and bite Obama AND America on the butt! Why? Because one of the primary causes of the steep drop in the deficit is the unmanaged, catastrophic reductions caused by the "sequester that wasn't supposed to happen". Without question, the misery of the average American will grow as support programs go unfunded and investments in education, R&D, and infrastructure go by the wayside. Already those out of work for a long time, and therefore the economy, have lost $1.6 billion as of this writing; just what Obama's opponents want to have happen, starving Americans and small business losing business.
OBAMACARE MADE IT!!!
APRIL 21, 2014: A FEW DAYS HAVE PASSED SINCE the end of the processing of applications that were filed on or before March 31, 2014, While the number will still grow a little as they finish up counting, more than 8,000,000 signed up for Obamacare through the federal exchanges, blowing away all expectations. Even at the low end of industry estimates, that means at least 6.4 million of those will have paid into the system; more than enough to encourage more insurance companies to join the competition next year.
In addition to the 8 million through federal exchanges, another 3 million+ have signed up for Medicaid, several million more through the state exchanges and off-exchange insurance plans. Further, there are still 3.1 million young adults who are covered under their parents plans that otherwise probably would not be. In addition, the number of insured in company health plans is up as well, but the cause is less certain.
Naysayers have questioned how many of these are people who didn't have insurance before. Current estimates range from 5.4 million from the Urban Institute's Health Reform Monitoring Survey to 12 million from the CBO and Gallup.
CHALLENGING CHINA IN ASIA
APRIL 27, 2014: AFTER DECADES AFTER HAVING BEEN KICKED OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES, President Obama re-established America's military presence in that extremely strategic country by signing a ten-year agreement. While it doesn't establish a base in the Philippines, it does increase the number and frequency of American ships and planes visiting the islands as well as increasing the number of joint training exercises.
OBAMA ENERGY PROGRAM SETS RECORDS
MAY 4, 2014: ON THIS DATE, JOHN PODESTA REVEALED CHARTS to the White House press corp at the daily briefing that must make one scratch their head when they listing to Republican rhetoric about how President Obama is so anti-oil and gas. The numbers simply prove their hyperbole as just that, hyperbole.
According to Podesta:
- For the first time since 1995, America produced more oil than it imported. That is because, by November 2013, oil production is at a 24-year high, and produces more oil than any other country, and imports are at a 17-year low
- For the first time every, America was first in natural gas production
- Under President Obama, the use of renewable energy sources has grown considerably, reducing the need for oil imports, among other things. See table below.
OBAMA SETS CLIMATE CHANGE AGENDA FOR THE WORLD
JUNE 2. 2014: PRESIDENT OBAMA ANNOUNCED TODAY new EPA rules to limit carbon pollutants into our, and the world's. environment. The rules require carbon emissions to be reduced by 30% of 2005 levels or about 18% of today's levels. This move does two things, 1) reduce greenhouse gases which should help global warming and 2) reduce particulate matter which improves the health of Americans.
Sources of Energy in the United States
Natural & Other Gases
Renewable - Hydro
Renewable - Bio Mass
Renewable - Geothermal
Renewable - Solar
Renewable - Wind
Total Fossil and Nuclear
MORE NOTABLE ACHIEVMENTS
8/7/2014 - ONE OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S GREATEST FAILINGS is not successfully promoting himself; for letting his opponents set and keep the narrative and foreign policy is just one good example. President Obama simply sucks in the current polls in his job overall foreign policy job performance, along with all the other major categories; this has been the case for several years now. The VERY strange thing is, when these same people who criticize Obama on his total performance are asked about individual foreign policy decisions that he has made, well guess what, they overwhelmingly agree with him and them!! Try to figure that one out.
So, what has President Obama done that American's wanted?
- Pulled out of Iraq (where we should never have been)
- Pulling out of Afghanistan (which I think is a mistake)
- Outfoxed Putin in getting him to persuade Syria, during a hot war, get rid of 100% of its chemical munitions
- Get Iran to continue the nuclear freeze to dilute its highly enriched uranium, agree to in-person inspections and video surveillance, and cease work on its heavy water plutonium reactor.
- Corralling the herd of cats called the European Union into imposing tough economic sanctions on Russia and isolating Putin by getting Europeans to put the screws to Russia’s banking, oil and gas, and military sectors, Obama has played his brand of strong-arm diplomatic ball, forcing Putin to choose between his country’s economic well being and his fantasies of restoring the Russian Empire.Putin looks politically injured, snarling not like a mighty czar but like a wounded bear caught in a trap.
9/14/2014: For the first time in American history, a President approaches involvement in the Middle East in the proper manner. Unlike all of his processors, President Obama understands that you can't bully your way to victory in asymmetrical combat as American Presidents and Pentagon Chiefs of Staff have been trying to do, and losing, since Vietnam. The battle against ISIS will be his first war from start to hopefully finish, but he has his doubts. After replacing the General Staff in the Pentagon with strategic thinkers who can get beyond the Cold War mentality. The plan Obama has accepted is similar to one President Bush belatedly, but much to his credit in ignoring the advise from most of his advisers, settled on at the end of his term, the Surge where America switched tactics and brought all parties, Shi'ites, Kurds, AND Sunnis into the fight against al Qaeda and Sunni extremists. In this case, President Obama is attempting the same thing, BUT without committing American regular combat forces, only air and special operations assets. while making the Iraqi Shi'ite, Kurd, and Sunnis do the heavy ground fighting.
9/20/14: Corporations are reporting record profits as a percent of GDP now. The previous high was in Eisenhower through Johnson administrations with fairly consist reports of between 11% and a little above 12% (save for three quick downturns during small recessions). Starting with President Nixon, corporate profits went into a steep decline, averaging around 9 - 10%. They bottom out with President Reagan with profits ranging from a little less than 7% of GDP to about 8.5%. It took Clinton to get things going again for profits increased from 7% to 10% by about 2007 before falling right back down again to 7% around 2001/2. There is no telling if it would have gone that low if 9/11 hadn't happened, but it did. With the Housing bubble of 2003 - 2006, corporate profits skyrocketed from 7% to the highs obtained by Kennedy-Johnson, about 12.2%. The difference is, only the top 10% of American society participated in this growth while back in the 1960s, probably 70% felt the benefit. Of course President Bush suffered the worse recession (and if it hadn't been for a couple of heroic and hated actions on his part followed up by equally reviled actions on Obama's part, I would write Depression instead) since WW II. If you haven't guessed by now, corporate profits plunged as fast as they rose to ... 7% of GDP.
Now, a lot has been said, including from me a little bit, about how President Obama has fumbled the recovery (most of my rhetoric is blaming the Conservatives for getting in the way of recovery.) Well, while everyone has been grousing about how bad the economy is, corporations have been raking in the loot; growing their profits as a percentage of GDP from 7% in 2009 to almost 13% today (the graph looks like 12.5 or 12.6, actually); in any case, it is now the tallest peak since 1952. Unfortunately, like with the growth in President Bush's time at the helm, it doesn't FEEL like the recovery has been that good, even with unemployment down to what is actually normal levels when you look at it over the long-term. The reason for that is the same reason most people felt poor under Bush, only the top tier of society is participating in the largess of the recovery. What is sadder, the dynamics that were in place in the 1960s that allowed the middle and lower tier of the economic classes to participate in American growth no longer exist; they went out with the Conservative Revolution.
9/22/2014: WITH THE BEGINNING OF THE AIR WAR against ISIS, President Obama has achieved the a larger miracle than even President H.W. Bush did in putting together a grand coalition of mainly European nations to participate in the First Iraq War. Obama did him one better by getting multiple Arab states to not only support the war on ISIS but actually participate in combat against fellow Sunnis.
11/20/2014: President Barack Obama finally did what he said he would do, begin the fix of immigration. After 6 years of stalling by the Conservative House, the President implemented by Executive Order, those parts of the solution, devised by both Republicans and Democrats and passed by the Senate, the law allows him to do. What he was able to do was to prioritize the activities of the Department of Justice. The prioritization is based on maximizing the benefits from the efforts of addressing dangerous undocumented aliens given the limited resources of the DoJ. By doing so, and protecting those long-term undocumented aliens who actually add to GDP growth, his actions benefit all of America, not just the 5 million who have lived under fear of discovery for decades.
9/10/2015: After a last ditch effort by Conservatives to let Iran keep their nuclear program intact (in exchange for being able to maintain the sanctions), President Obama did something he should have started doing 6 years ago - actively working with Congress to get legislation passed. In this case, it was to stop a bill of disapproval for the Iran Nuclear deal Secretary of State John Kerry, and 6 other nations, hammered out to get Iran to end and partially dismantle their nuclear program.
9/3/2016: Joined with China to deposit an “instrument of acceptance” with the U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon to join the Paris Climate Accord to limit greenhouse gas. This is the first major international environmental agreement since the Kyoto Protocol which was the first step to limit greenhouse gases. Because the Protocol did not include developing countries, the Senate passed a resolution not to ratify any environmental treaty that didn't include these nations. Consequently, even though President Clinton signed the treaty it was never submitted to the Senate for ratification. The Paris Accord is not a treaty and therefore doesn't need the Senate's ratification (they wouldn't have ratified it any case because enough GOP Senators think climate change is a hoax.)
Summary Of Foreign Policy Achievements
FEB 2009 - : Began the successful task of repairing destroyed relations with Europe and Asia allies.
FEB 2009: Ordered the ending of the Iraq War by end of year and refocused the fight against terrorism back to Afghanistan
JUN 2010: Led the effort to isolate and punish Iran and bring the to the negotiating table to put a halt to their offensive nuclear program.
MAY 2, 2011: Ordered the operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.
DEC 17, 2014: Normalizes relations with Cuba after 56 years of wasted isolation.
APR 2015: Along with European allies and talking Russia and China into joining the effort, got preliminary agreement from Iran to halt weaponizing their nuclear program and accepting onerous inspection regimen by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
SEP 2015: Shepard a final Iran nuclear agreement through Congress guaranteeing a nuclear-free Iran for at least the next 10 years.
PROMISES NOT YET RATED
APRIL 1, 2013: The following are Obama promises not yet rated by PolitiFact -
- Create a Secretary of Business and Consolidate Nine Government Agencies on Business into One
- Create 1 Million New Manufacturing Jobs by the End of 2016
- Overhaul the Corporate Tax Code and Reduce the Rate for Manufacturing Companies
- End Tax Deductions for Companies that Offshore
- Create a New Tax Credit for Companies that Bring Jobs to the United States from Overseas
- Create a Veterans Job Corps
PROMISES STALLED OR KILLED BY CONSERVATIVES
- 9/12/12: Veterans Job Corp Act was successfully filibustered
- 7/23/12: Bring Jobs Home Act was successfully filibustered
- 7/17/12: A bill to provide for additional disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, Super PACs and other entities was successfully filibustered
- 7/12/12: Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act was successfully filibustered
- 6/5/12: Paycheck Fairness Act was successfully filibustered
- 5/21/12: FDA User Fee Bill was successfully filibustered
- 4/16/12: FDA User Fee Bill was successfully filibustered
- 3/29/12: Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act was successfully filibustered
- Eliminate Oil and Gas Subsidies - May 17, 2011, cloture failed 52 for - 48 against; 60 needed to pass. (2 Republicans voted for and 3 Democrats voted against cloture)
- Require publicly traded financial partnerships to pay the corporate income tax
- Tax carried interest as ordinary income, allows hedge fund managers' income to taxed at capital gains rates even though it isn't investment income
- Support tax deduction for artists
- "Disclose Act" to provide transparency to ALL campaign donations over $10,000
- "Bring Jobs Home Act" to give businesses tax breaks for moving operations back to the U.S. and not allow tax deductions for moving operations overseas.
- President's Jobs Bill
- 2014: Blocked extended unemployment insurance benefits multiple times; cost small business $11 B as of August 1
- 2009: Blocked Fair Pay Act
- 2014: Blocked benefits for homeless veterans
- Blocked Oil Spill Liability
- Blocked Anti-Rape Amendment
- Blocked Healthcare for 9/11 First Responders
- Blocked repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell many times
You Opinion Is Important, Please Vote
Do you think, whether you agree or disagree with his policies, President Obama was able accomplish most of the most of the the things he promised to do?
Do you think most of what President Obama has been able to accomplish to-date has been good for America, even though it migh not be exactly what he wanted?
DEMOGRAPHIC Q# 1
Do you identify most closly with the -
DEMOGRAPHIC Q# 2
Are you -
A LITTLE ANALYSIS
BECAUSE OF THE LIMITATIONS OF HUB polling, I can't easily ask the question "If you are a Liberal, do you think President ....; Yes, Not, Not Sure". I can do this but don't for two reasons, 1) it would add two more poles per question and 2) I feel readers would be less likely to answer them because a) there are too many polls and b) it lessens the perceived anonymity of the vote. Consequently, if I still want to know and share the distribution, then assumptions need to made and a lot of math accomplished.
So, here are the assumptions that were made:
- 1% of Conservatives vote "Not Sure"
- 9% of Liberals vote "Not Sure"
- 5% of Conservatives vote "Yes" (this may be low)
- 5% of Liberals vote "No" (this is probably low)
The calculations and table are based on the first question, but because the response to the second question is relatively the same, so would be the results of calculations based on those numbers (not quite true, but close enough for government work at this point in time).
Based on these assumptions, with 698 votes the estimate is:
THOUGHTS ON THE POLL RESULTS
BELIEVE IT OR NOT: With only 43 or 44 votes, as large as the difference appears to be, the yeas and nays are in a statistical tie because the margin of error is 27%. If we had 80 votes cast, however, it wouldn't be a tie; but now it is.
The voting has now jumped from 61 to 81 votes, consequently the Margin of Error (MOE) is down to 19%, and now signifies a statistical difference between those who think that Obama either 1) was able to accomplish most of what he set out to do and/or 2) what he has been able to do so far has been good for the country.
7/13/2012: Voting has really picked up, thank you VERY much! I have 151 in the main poll at the moment giving me an MOE of around 14%, telling us there is a definite bias of the voters toward both thinking that President Obama has generally accomplished most of the major goals he set out to do in his first four years AND that you think they have, for the most part, been good for America.
I recently added some demographic questions to see if I could discern who was thinking what. In these, I only have around 31 votes so far, not bad considering how new these polls are. Already I can tell something ... at the moment: 1) there are barely a statistically significant more readers who identify themselves as Progressives rather than Conservatives answering these demographic questions and 2) the rest of the comparisons are still within the margin of error.
If I make the assumption this trend is the same from day one of the polling, I can also say that it is highly likely that all of the conservatives who voted, voted 'No' in the first two questions.
9/6/2012: With votes in the mid-300s for the two polls, I can do a little arithmetic and come up with an interesting observation. First, using the result from Demographic Survey #1, political persuasion, to distribute vote totals, I can offer this given these three assumptions. 1) All Progressives believe that a) President Obama was able to accomplish most of the important things he set out to do and b) that they were the right things for the country, 2) All of the Conservatives believe just the opposite (not surprisingly), and 3) the 3 or 4% who don't know in each poll are all moderates:
About 69% of Moderates, those who will decide the upcoming election, think that President Obama achieved his goals and that his goals were good for America.
FIRST, I WANT TO THANK ALL OF YOU WHO have taken the time to read this now lengthy Hub and taking part in the surveys. At the moment, there are 708 responses to the first question, "Was Obama Effective?" and 680 responses to "Did Obama Help America?". With 45,535 views at the moment, that means about 1.5% of you took the survey, about average as surveys go, but still impressive to me.
With so many responses, I thought it was time to make use of the information doing one of my favorite things, estimation; in this case figuring out roughly what percent from each political category voted Yea or Nay regarding the first two survey questions.
A WORD ABOUT ESTIMATION AND PEOPLE
I am a big believer in MBTI (Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator) psychological profiles. There are four possible sets of personality traits; Extravert-Introvert (E-I), Sensor-iNtuitive (S-N); Feeler-Thinker (F-T); and Judger-Perceiver (J-P). I describe these traits in several hubs, the latest one is http://myesoteric.hubpages.com/hub/Meyers-Briggs-Personality-Inventory-An-Experiment-Please-Join. Of interest to me in this exercise are the S-N and J-P personality types.
Why are these Types important to my estimates? Because, depending on which combination a person is, S-J, S-P, N-J, and N-P, each Type responds in significantly different ways on whether they accept what I present. These differences were dramatized in 2009 when economists from President Obama's team estimated, in Jan 2009, that unemployment shouldn't exceed 8%. and then piled on a bunch of caveats.
- Few if any in the mainstream or non-mainstream media paid any attention to what the economists said beyond the 8% number
- The non-mainstream media and Right-wing pundits went so far as to attribute the announcement of this estimate to President Obama personally. This, of course, was not true, and they knew it.
- Further, those that opposed President Obama purposefully ignored the caveats surrounding the estimate and all of the well known cautions that go with the use of any statistical estimate.
- Also, nobody ever talked about the fact the estimate was revised to 11% in early 2011 when the 2008, 4th Quarter economic data became available. Unfortunately, the power of well prepared propaganda had so muddied the waters, nobody cared.
It is the independents who did exactly the same thing which I find interesting from a personality trait perspective. The nature of those who are Sensors and Judgers is to tend to be invariant in their thinking and not particularly interested in looking into the "whys" and "wherefores" behind a statement; they simply want to take the statement at face value and assume it is close to the absolute truth and either not hear, remember, or care about the caveats that came with it.
It is here where America has a problem, you see, for S-Js make up 43% of American society. Another 27% are S-Ps. That leaves only 30% of us who are either N-J or N-P, My hypothesis is, which I am trying to validate in that other Hub, is that the S-Type personality is concentrated in those on the Right side of the political spectrum, and the N-Type are on the Left side. The importance being, of course, is S-Types tend, depending on the strength of their 'Sness', not to understand nor believe in statistics and will misuse them on a regular basis. N-Types, on the other hand, come pre-wired to at least understand conclusions drawn from statistics and their limitations (so the fact that the 8% did not hold came as no surprise); but, whether they misure statistics depends on other variables. Not understanding this dynamic has led many a politician astray, leading to ill-conceived statements of possibility rather than sticking to only those things of which they are almost certain. The take-away from all of this is that in America at least, don't offer estimates when asked for one.
What is also fascinating is that in the same hub on Meyers-Briggs, I am finding that a major portion of my audience are iNtuitors - N, which allows me to offer the following "estimates" without too much fear of misunderstanding.
Now the first thing we, as professional estimators (I was a Cost Analyst for the Air Force), must do is develop a set of Assumptions and Constraints about the problem we are trying to estimate. Because of the limitations of Hub polling, I can't ask directly, at least not easily, if you are Conservative, do you think this or that. So what I do is ask about your opinion on this or that and then ask, in a separate poll, if you are Progressive, Moderate, or Conservative. This construction forces me to make an estimate on what percentage of Moderate's opinion was one thing or another.
In this particular case, the question, using the second poll, is what percentage of Progressives, Moderates, and Conservatives felt that President Obama has helped this country with his policies. Of course, I had an idea of what the answer was, which is presented in Table 4.
AGREE THAT OBAMA DID GOOD
DISAGREE THAT OBAMA DID GOOD
NOT SURE WHAT HE DID
WHAT DROVE SUCH A RESULT? First, the Constraints forced part of what you see, So, what are constraints? They are the parameters that are invariant; in other words, they can't change for this particular scenario. Constraints are facts like the total number of survey responders is 680 or that 18% of those who answered the political leaning poll self-identified themselves as Conservative. Other constraints are the fact that the totals of each row and column must equal 100%.
The other driver are the Assumptions I used to create Table 4. Assumptions are the opposite of constraints, they can vary, they aren't set in stone. The primary assumption (1) I made which drove the final results of my initial try was that no Conservatives would say Obama's program was good for America. Another minor assumption (2) is that the percent of Not Sure's are the same for each political stripe; since Not Sure only accounts for 2% (13 or 14 responses) of the total, it has very little impact.
Next, I needed to make an assumption (3) about how many Progressives would respond with a No vote; I chose 2% for the same reason I thought there would be very no Conservative votes who Agreed with Obama. With these three assumptions and all of the constraints, the remaining four cells an arithmetical certainty; they can't be any other percentages than what you see.
So, what do you see? To me it looks wrong. It looks wrong because the percentage of Moderates who liked what Obama did is too high at 78%. It simply doesn't seem reasonable to me, given the polarization in this country, Obama's declining poll numbers, a struggling economy and unspectacular employment picture. With a world made up of those factors, I have to reject the idea that more than 7 out of 10 Moderates believe Obama's policies were good for America. Therefore, the assumption that no Conservatives would vote for Obama most be relaxes to "few, if any"; clearly some had to in order to reduce the number of Moderate Agree votes.
I also changed my assumption regarding the Not Sure result by assuming the Moderates result could float and the Progressives and Conservatives split the remainder, subject to the total having to equal the total 'Not Sure' votes cast. Next I controlled the Moderate Yes vote and the Progressive No vote. I finally settled on 65% of Moderates would vote with Obama and 5% of Progressives voted against Obama. Table 5 is the surprising result..
THE SECOND TRY
AGREE THAT OBAMA DID GOOD
DISAGREE THAT OBAMA DID GOOD
I WASN'T EXPECTING THAT; 38% OF CONSERVATIVES Agreeing with Obama! Now, you all know, especially the Intuitors, those aren't the exact numbers, but the true numbers can't be too far from this result. They can't be too far off because (this is called sensitivity analysis):
- If the Conservative Agree vote was smaller, that means, because of the constraints, the Moderate vote for Obama must be larger.
- Further, any reduction in Progressive or Moderate Agree votes must increase the Conservative result, so pick your poison.
Now, the Sensors, especially those on the Right, out there are probably scream foul; you're just cooking the books and making the statistics say what you want! The Intuitors reading this should agree with my response: "In a sense, the Sensors are right, in that I am playing with the numbers (but not cooking the books)." But, as any statistician knows, it isn't the "numbers" I am "playing" with but the "assumptions and constraints"; the results simply follow the dictates of these.
As I described earlier, to the best of my knowledge, I made certain assumptions. Then I looked at the results and asked, "did they make sense in the real world?" and not "do they support my preconceived notion?". In this case, anybody on the Right, Left, or in the Middle would tell you a result that says 87% of Moderates think President Obama means you have been living in Colorado too long enjoying the smoke. As a consequence, I had to go back and look at my assumptions.
The assumption that NO Conservative would think Obama did a good job is one of those "biased", knee-jerk thoughts; that was why this assumption was relaxed. Also, thinking that the Not Sure votes are split evenly, doesn't really pass the laugh-test either does it; so that was changed to something more realistic.
I added assumptions about the Moderate Agree and Progressive Disagree responses while, at the same time, relaxing the assumptions on the 'Not Sures', in order to NOT put a constraint on the Conservative results. The test, of course, is can you live with the Conservative results. In Table 5s case, we are saying that it seems more reasonable that a 1/3 of Conservatives secretly agree that President Obama has done a good job as opposed to 78% of Moderates thinking that; which is why I said, pick your poison.
1/11/2015: Now consider Table 6 with 869 responses; the same assumptions and constraints for Table 5 are used.
Did PBO Do A Good Job with 869 responses
AGREE THAT PBO DID A GOOD JOB
DISAGREE THAT PBO DID A GOOD JOB
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