Other Congressional Democrats too are withdrawing their support of the president, including Senator Paul Kirk, Jr. Of Massachusetts. Health care reform too has seen a parting of the ways for some Democrats and the president.
Health care reform was one of the primary issues President Obama focused on during his campaign. The historic vote in the House of Representatives brought him one step closer to seeing this reform come to fruition. However, the vote revealed a significant decline in the president's support. Whereas all but one Republican voted for the bill, almost 20% of Democrats voted against Obama's flagship piece of legislation, allowing to pass by a very slim 220-215 vote ("Final vote," 2009). The Senate has yet to vote on the bill, but with a similar composition as the House, the vote is certainly to be close. Immigration reform too was a topic Obama espoused to voters along the campaign trail.
However, Obama has informed the world that he won't focus on immigration reform legislation until 2010. While attending a North American summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, President Obama reiterated his campaign belief that there needs to be a 'pathway to citizenship', for the millions of illegal aliens who are currently residing in the United States. Thompson and Booth (2009) cite the president as noting that tensions between the U.S. And Mexico have to be taken into consideration when this reform is created, in order to prevent Mexicans from continuing to illegally cross the border. Obama vaguely described "an orderly process for people to come in" to the country and a process for allowing current illegal aliens to achieve citizenship. However, no firm details of how this system would work were given. Along with President Obama's vague generalities, stereotypical of most politicians, he did note that the process would be difficult. Yet, immigration reform will be put on the back burner while Obama focuses on health care reform, energy, and the economy.
With an economy that is reaching Great Depression proportions, including double-digit unemployment and effects that are reaching global markets, focusing on the economy should be job one for the president. President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a few short weeks following his inauguration. This legislation was supposed to revitalize the American economy; instead unemployment is higher than it has been in decades. Concerns over socialistic plans such as ownership of major auto manufacturers and a nationalized health care system, along with increased taxes for businesses, has caused the American economy to spiral out of control. Although President Obama states that he has reduced taxes for most working Americans ("Obama, GOP," 2009), the reality that fewer Americans are working at all negates this benefit. An increasing number of Americans are calling for a back-to-economics basics approach of reducing government spending and allowing American businesses to keep their hard-earned money, so that they can afford to expand their businesses, hire more workers, and jump start an economy that is teetering on the edge of disaster.
In the $787 billion ARRA, billions of dollars were earmarked for green improvements. From weatherization assistance to loan guarantees for renewable energy projects, these dollars show an investment in green technology and their use. Environmental concerns were a topic for all of the presidential candidates. However, with an already full plate of Afghanistan and the economy, likely President Obama will not be able to focus on this important facet in the near future.
In the end, both President Bush and President Obama have faced, and in Obama's case will continue to face, tough economic, social, environmental, and political challenges. Many of the events that shaped Bush's presidency are still affecting Obama's. The attacks on September 11th and the military efforts in the Middle East, as an example, will continue to be apart of foreign policy concerns for years to come. It is interesting that both presidents entered office with the support of Congress; yet, both have seen that support dwindle. Controversial decisions have to be made by the president, and that means that not everyone will be happy. However, only hindsight will be able to tell if those decisions were the right ones to make.
President Obama has a long, hard row to hoe. Although the American people, caught up in the frenzy of motivating campaign speeches, expected change to happen much more quickly than it is, the president will need more time to effectively implement any of his plans. Only time will tell if health care reform will pass the Senate, and if so if it will be a great success or a bureaucratic money pit like Social Security and Medicare. The conflicts in the Middle East, especially, Afghanistan, will also not be resolved quickly. Economic recovery will also take time and fiscally sound policies. While these major issues are being resolved, other issues such as immigration reform and green technology development will have to be pushed to the side.
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