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Has Obama Kept His Promises? A Year In Review

We are coming up to the end of a year that has certainly not been one of the easiest on any part of the world, with the banking crisis taking centre stage in the Western world, while Coalition troops are still in Afghanistan and Iraq. How has Obama fared under a rough first year? John Price examines Obama’s campaign promises and compares them to the Kenyan-American president’s performance so far.

Economy

The most important factor in most people’s minds should be the economy, and how Obama has guided the US through the storm. Unfortunately the Bush administration has not left Obama with an easy starting hand; he must contend with a $1.3 trillion deficit in the national budget, the highest in American history. Taking the old adage “spend money to make money” to heart, he signed a $787 billion economic stimulus bill into legislation less than a month after being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, with the aim of saving or creating 3.5 million jobs, and delivering $282 billion in tax cuts, including breaks for individuals and businesses, perhaps hoping to shock small businesses into life and increase consumer spending.

But has it worked? Unemployment is still at an all-time high of 10.2%, and the International Monetary Fund has estimated the US GDP (gross domestic product) is expected to fall by $175 billion.

Does this mean that Obama has failed? The notion that a president can sign a piece of paper and make a national debt go away in an instant is absurd, and anyone waiting for such quick results is misguided. Indeed, last month, Obama asked Americans for patience over the economy. However, many Americans are losing patience, with 59% of Americans in a Gallup poll stating that they think the economic situation will be getting worse. Only time will tell if Obama can turn things around heading into 2010.

Military

Just as Obama has had trouble at home with the economy, in the Middle East, Obama has promised to begin pulling US troops out of Iraq and sending them into Afghanistan, where Taliban resurgence is rife.

Obama has sent two additional brigades to the war struck region in an effort to combat the Taliban resurgence, something that he stated in his campaign pledges. Meanwhile, in Iraq, Obama has promised to “work with military commanders… to end the war safely and responsibly within sixteen months.” This withdrawal is currently within the works, with the President estimating that the withdrawal will be finished by August 2010, two months after Obama’s original estimate. However, while some may claim that this constitutes a breaking of his campaign pledge, Obama cannot realistically end the mission until he can be sure that Iraq is a peaceful state with a stable government in place. Thus, Obama’s pledge of sixteen months may be optimistic, but it is unlikely to be a deliberate lie.

Healthcare

Obama began a vast healthcare reform, drafting a bill in September/October 2009, and this reform had been one of his key platforms on the campaign trail. However, the Senate and the American people alike have been split on the bill. In the Senate, all 58 Democrat senators and two independents approved the bill, but all but one of the 40 opposition Republican senators voted against the bill.

Meanwhile, 49% of American people surveyed by Gallup have said that they would advise their Congress representative to oppose healthcare reform, while only 44% are for the healthcare reform.

So does this mean that Obama’s plan is dead in the water? It is unclear at the moment, but no one can credibly oppose the bill because of the deficit. Obama has said that the healthcare reform would not be paid for from the national budget, but instead by raising taxes on individuals with over $500 thousand, a far cry from his predecessor’s record of lowering taxation for the wealthiest 2% of society.

Overall

So, how has Obama fared? Considering the state of affairs he came into office with, not too bad. However, the GDP is down, and US troops will still be in the Middle East for another six months. All in all, the United States must have patience, because the much-touted “change” that Obama promised cannot and will not happen overnight.

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DISCLAIMER (for the mods who may believe I cribbed this!):

I wrote this amateur article on the 5th December, 2009, for a wrestling forum that shall remain nameless for fear of my bum being roasted for advertising. My username on there is Bingo AKA PJP. The PJP in both usernames refers to my (hopeful) wrestling gimmick of "Priceless" John Price, hence PJP.