Worthwhile Obama initiatives

Click to enlarge

I’m highly critical of President Obama’s record.  But in fairness, I ought to acknowledge the President’s achievements.   These achievements are real, even though some of them have to be qualified with an asterisk (*).

  • President Obama’s economic stimulus program has apparently helped the economic recovery along.  (*The current economic recovery has been weaker than most post-World War Two recoveries, and it will take a long time to get back to pre-recession conditions, which were none too good to begin with.  Nevertheless, the Obama stimulus program was enacted over Republican resistance to doing anything at all, so the President deserves some credit.)
  • President Obama stuck to his promised timetable for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq. (*Non-combat troops and armed U.S. contractors remain in Iraq, and the Obama administration probably would have kept combat troops in Iraq if the Iraqi government had agreed to give them extraterritorial privilege.  Nevertheless, the President did what he promised to do, and he deserves credit.)
  • The new Defense Department budget calls for a reduction in force and a slowdown in growth in military spending, a necessary step to bring overall federal spending under control.  (*Spending will remain above pre-9/11 levels, and spending will increase on Special Forces and unmanned weapons, thereby increasing the President’s power to wage secret wars.  Nevertheless, this is a politically difficult action.)
  • The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to uphold the right of private citizens to make video recordings of police in the performance of their duties.  As Radley Balko wrote on The Agitator, this is a big deal.  Video evidence is usually the only evidence of police abuse of power except the unsupported word of the victim.  Now, the initiative for this may have come more from Attorney-General Eric Holder than from the President himself, but Obama still deserves credit.  No asterisk here.

Click on Pentagon budget set to shrink next year for the Washington Post’s report on President Obama’s proposed military budget.

Click on DOJ Urges Federal Court to Protect the Right to Record Police for background on this lawsuit.

The Obama administration also deserves credit for the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy toward gays in the military, and for compiling and distributing objective data to physicians on the effectiveness of different forms of medical treatment.  None of this, however, outweighs President Obama’s record on war, civil liberties and pandering to Wall Street.

Click on President Obama and his liberal critics for my case against President Obama.

The chart at the top of this post shows that the decline in U.S. jobs has stopped since President Obama took office.  On the other hand, the recovery in jobs is not enough to regain what has been lost and keep up with population growth.   And the charts below show that the current economic recovery has been weaker than average in all respects except exports and corporate profits.

Double click to enlarge

In the normal course of events, recessions are followed by recoveries.  I’m not smart enough to say how much the current recovery, or its strength or weakness, is due to the President and Congress, and how much is due to the swings of the economic cycle.   I think the best way to stimulate the economy is for the government to invest in things that the country needs anyway, such as repair and replacement of the nation’s deteriorating physical infrastructure, scientific and technical research and maintenance of governmental services on the state and local levels.   President Obama deserves some credit for attempting to do this to a modest extent, against the opposition of Republicans in Congress.

Note:  I originally began this post which I realized couldn’t possibly be correct.  So I deleted it, and combined with post with a post with more correct (or at least more plausible) information.

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