He signed into law landmark health care and financial reforms; the economy continued to grow, albeit slowly; and the last U.S. combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq. Yet President Barack Obama reaches his term’s halfway point under considerable fire, his party having been KOed in the midterm elections; his opponents say he went too far; some among his base say he balked at going far enough.
Has his agenda been neutralized? Hardly. In what’s probably been the least lame lame-duck session of Congress in a long time, the President saw success on his $858 billion Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010; the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal; the New START treaty’s ratification; the medical benefits for 9/11 responders bill, though cut considerably to satisfy Republicans; a food-safety bill; the Defense Authorization spending bill; and a $250 billion stopgap spending bill that keeps the federal government open for business through early March, among other things.
Did all these things make everyone happy? Of course not. Much of the Democratic party’s liberal base is still angry that the richest Americans saw their tax breaks continued and a jacking up of the estate tax exemption; conservatives are stung by letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military; and so on.
And did he get everything done? Of course not. Senate Republicans succeeded in killing the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill which would’ve created a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants earning college degrees or serving in the Armed Forces, and a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.
Is something better than nothing? It depends on who’s asking, who’s answering, and what the “something” is, I suppose. But all in all, it’s hard to see how the weeks since Election Day can be seen as anything but a series of policy and political victories for the President, in large part due to some moderate Republicans who – now freed from having to toe the pre-election GOP line – crossed the aisle to vote for cloture and passage on many of these bills.
So, as 2010 draws to a close, do you think President Obama looks back on the year as a bad one or a good one?