Thus, while it could be argued that Obama’s average approval rating was so high for the first year because of the exceedingly high hope that the public invested in him (as Jones notes, “his initial approval ratings were among the highest Gallup has measured for a new president”), Obama did provide some confidence that the nation was on the right track following the dismal two-term presidency of George W. Bush, which left many Americans skeptical about the U.S.’s social, economical and political future.
It is true that Obama did not magically turn things around immediately upon entering office. He entered right when America was entering a recession: the housing bubble that had grown under Bush II popped in 2007-08 and caused GDP to crash deep into negative territory in 2009 (Amadeo). This was certainly not Obama’s fault, but the perception among some was that Obama was at least partly responsible for the state of things—especially since he voted for TARP, the bailout that allowed the big banks to put the burden of their mistakes on the backs of tax payers to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars (Hoven). However, and as Randall Hoven points out, the TARP bailout was quickly paid back to the U.S. government—with interest. The only entities that did not repay their debts were those who went bankrupt: companies like General Motors and Chrysler. Taxpayers lost about $30 billion there, but Obama argued that there really was no other option—and he provided American voters with a choice: they could embrace the stimulus plan that he was promoting, they could see things get worse, much worse. The American public chose and by February 2009—just one month into Obama’s first year in office—Congress had signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. This stimulus package was designed to help get companies producing again, help get them hiring again, and help American consumers to start consuming again. Whether one opposed the stimulus plan or embraced it, the fact is that Obama got the stimulus signed and into effect in relatively short order. This was, therefore, a major and early success for Obama.
Obama continued his run of success by signing into law within his first 100 days in office the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act, which lengthened the time in which individuals could file suits in equal-pay cases; the expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program; and obtained from Congress a resolution to address what would eventually become Obama’s signature piece of reform while in office: health care. And while some of…
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