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Debate: Does Obama deserve a second term?

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Background and context

US President Barack Obama was elected on November 4th, 2008, and will seek reelection on November 7th, 2012. The question on many voter's minds is whether he deserves reelection. Below is a survey of the many arguments being made pro and con on the topic. The questions include: has he done a good job with the economy? Did he respond appropriately to the economic crisis with his 2009 stimulus, intervention to save failing banks, and bailout of American auto companies?
Has he done the best that any other man could have done to address the Great Recession - or the greatest recession since the Great Depression? Is the American Jobs Act good policy? Generally, is a mix of stimulus spending and tax cuts the right policy, or is focusing almost exclusively on spending cuts and cutting taxes the right approach as Republicans advocate? Has Obama taken sufficient steps to cut the deficit and debt in the long-run? Is the Affordable Care Act - or Obamacare as its detractors call it - good health care law? Is its mandate on individuals to buy private insurance justified? What about its health exchanges to increase competition, its policies to prevent individuals from being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and its provisions that allow young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plan until 26? Has his foreign policy been sound, with a gradual pace for drawing down the War in Iraq, and surging in Afghanistan in 2009 before planning a gradual drawn-down later in 2012. What about his moves in Libya and in dealing with the Arab Spring? Has he been sufficiently supportive? What about killing Osama Bin Laden and waging the war on terror? He has killed many senior Al Qaeda leaders, with drone attacks and other tactics. Has this been a good approach? These and many other questions and arguments on the merits of Obama's first term are documented below.

Contents

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Economic policy:

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Pro

  • Obama is not to blame for the economic crisis. Athleen Rosell. "Devil's Advocate: Re-Elect Obama." The Daily Titan. April 19th, 2011: "Many of the other complaints against him are about the economy, national budget and various wars around the world that we are involved in. All of those problems were around before he took the oath of office. You cannot make a national debt of $14 trillion disappear; the money to repay that has to come from somewhere."
  • Obama did best possible to solve crisis with limited info/time. Steven Rattner. "Ron Suskind’s inaccurate revisionism." Politico. October 1, 2011: "amid all the titillating tidbits, let’s not forget the important substantive point: This new president was confronted with a set of economic challenges greater than any in more than 75 years. If he had known then everything that we know now about how the economic recovery would unfold, would he have made all the same decisions? Almost certainly not. But I firmly believe that dealing with the facts as they were known– not to mention the impossible politics of Congress – he got an exceptionally high percentage of the decisions right."[1]
  • Took critical steps to fight economic crisis, begin recovery. Signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which has created 2.1 million jobs (as of 12/31/09), $789 billion economic stimulus plan. Helped reverse a downward spiral of the stock market. On January 19, 2009, the last day of President Bush's presidency, the Dow closed at 8,218.22. In March of 2010, the Dow closed at 10,309.24 (February 2010). Launched a U.S. financial and banking rescue plan. Managed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) passed under President Bus in 2008. Provided tax credit to workers thus cutting taxes for 95% of America's working families. Launched U.S. Auto industry rescue plan. Launched Recovery.gov to track spending from the Recovery Act, an unprecedented step to provide transparency and accountability through technology. Announced the "Making Home Affordable" home refinancing plan. Launched a $15 billion plan to boost lending to small businesses. Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants) after years of neglect.
  • GOP would do nothing but cut taxes; Obama is taking action
  • GOP tax cuts (only) aren't very stimulative; they get saved. Ezra Klein. "What Washington should have done." Washington Post. October 10th, 2011: "Tax cuts, which can be done quickly and at any size, aren’t very stimulative because they get saved rather than spent."
  • Obama is a centrist, not a far left radical. E.J. Dionne. "How the left can show Obama is a centrist." Real Clear Politics. October 3rd, 2011: "the absence of a strong, organized left made it easier for conservatives to label Obama himself as a left-winger. His health care reform is remarkably conservative -- yes, it did build on the ideas implemented in Massachusetts that Mitt Romney once bragged about. It was nothing close to the single-payer plan the left always preferred. His stimulus proposal was too small, not too large. His new Wall Street regulations were a long way from a complete overhaul of American capitalism. Yet Republicans swept the 2010 elections because they painted Obama and the Democrats as being far to the left of their actual achievements."
  • Stimulus should have been bigger, not smaller as GOP claims. "It needed to be bigger," according to Ezra Klein of the Washington Post and dozens of other economists such as Paul Krugman.[2]
  • Led world in fighting global financial crisis. Played a lead role in G-20 Summit that produced a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis.
  • Stopped free-fall; things could have been much worse. Success of the stimulus is hard to demonstrate, as it is impossible to illustrate how things ‘could have been worse’? But there really could have been another depression, instead of just a short year-long recession followed by a slow recovery. Unemployment could have reached between 15% and 20% like during the Depression, instead of leveling off around 9%. Things could have been much worse, but the right steps were taken. GDP would have been lower without the Recovery Act (2007-2013 projection) (scroll down to Part III to see chart). Unemployment would have been higher without ARRA (2008-2010). The gap between actual and full-employment GDP would have been much larger without TARP and ARRA (2008-2010).
  • Took steps to fight financial fraud, risks, causes of crisis. Dodd-Frank (DF) Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the biggest financial reform law since the Great Depression. Signed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act which gives the federal government more tools to investigate and prosecute fraud, from lending to the financial system, and creates a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial practices that brought us to this point. Created the Financial Stability Oversight Council to monitor stability of the financial system and individual firms. Created self-funded Office of Financial Research (OFR) to collect information from financial firms. New requirements for reporting financial data. Defined the amount and nature of assets required to meet capital requirements. Originators of asset-backed securities must retain 5% ownership/risk (DF). Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Stronger client fiduciary duty for broker-dealers. Higher standards for securities advertising and disclosures. Expanded “insider loans”. Higher standards for sytemically important ($50 billion assets+) institutions, including annual stress tests and restrictions on bank acquisitions.[3]
  • Extended unemployment benefits to workers in need. Extended unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspended taxes on these benefits for 2,000,000 unemployed Americans by 20 weeks. At the time the bill was signed 7,000 unemployed Americans were losing their unemployment benefits each day.
  • Obama has eliminated many excessive regulations
  • Passed strongest consumer financial protections in history. Financial reform has ‘strongest consumer financial protections in history.’ Protected consumers from unfair credit card practices. Signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act to protect Americans from unfair and deceptive credit card practices. Established a credit card bill of rights. Reformed credit card swipe fees.
  • Helped shore up housing market, keep families in homes. Signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. Announced the "Making Home Affordable" home refinancing plan. Designated $1.5 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in the states hardest hit by the housing crisis: California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan. The MBA forecasts that foreclosures will peak in the last quarter of 2010.
  • Obama helped save the auto industry. Provided new car tax credit. Launched U.S. Auto industry rescue plan. Started cash for clunkers program. Provided attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles. Purchased fuel efficient American-made fleet of vehicles for the federal government.
  • Took measures to reduce offensive executive pay. Cut salaries for 65 bailout executives (Pay Czar). Executive compensation must be determined by an independent committee (DF). Issued compensation guidelines for bank executive salary and bonuses.
  • Curb incentives for investing overseas; encouraged in-sourcing. Reformed deferral rules to curb tax advantages for investing overseas. Established new offshore investment policy that promotes in-sourcing. Permanently extended Research and Experimentation Tax Credit for domestic investments.
  • Obama invested in education to ensure economic prosperity. Prioritized and invested heavily in education both as a way to provide jobs now and lay the foundation for long-term prosperity. Increased funding for student loans and pell grants for 2010 students.
  • Obama has protected and created significant jobs. Created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economy 3.5% [as of December 31, 2009] through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Allocated special funding to the Labor Department to provide green job training to veterans. Allocated funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police or firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession.
  • Majorities support Obama's individual economic policies
  • Took steps to fight corruption and influence of lobbyists. Limited lobbyist's access to the White House by forbidding hiring. Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act – establishes a Federal “Do Not Pay” list.
  • Took action to help small businesses. Expanded loan programs for small businesses. Raised the small business investment limit to $250,000 through the end of 2009. Small Business Act. Small Business Investment Act.
  • Fought to help and re-grow American manufacturing. Created an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to invest in peer-reviewed manufacturing processes.
  • Took action on bolstering American exports. Launched the National Export Initiative, with the goal of doubling US exports by 2015. Provided National Export Initiative/Progress report and named President’s Export Council.
  • Aided states in dire economic straits. $26 billion aid to states package (Aug 2010).
  • Obama pushed free trade deals w/ Colombia, Panama, S.K. "Obama, Lee hail trade deal, pressure North Korea." Reuters. Oct 13th, 2011: "U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday hailed a long-sought trade deal as an engine for job creation in both countries and presented a united front in the North Korean nuclear standoff. [...] is expected to help anchor the United States in the economically dynamic Asia-Pacific region as it competes with an increasingly assertive China."


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Con

  • Obama has failed to grow the economy Karl Rover. "Why Obama Is Likely to Lose in 2012." Wall Street Journal. June 22nd, 2011: "Unemployment is at 9.1%, with almost 14 million Americans out of work. Nearly half the jobless have been without work for more than six months. Mr. Obama promised much better, declaring that his February 2009 stimulus would cause unemployment to peak at 8% by the end of summer 2009 and drop to roughly 6.8% today. After boasting in June 2010 that "Our economy . . . is now growing at a good clip," he laughingly admitted last week, "Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected." The humor will be lost on most. In Wednesday's Bloomberg poll, Americans believe they are worse off than when Mr. Obama took office by a 44% to 34% margin. The last president re-elected with unemployment over 7.2% was FDR in 1936. Ronald Reagan overcame 7.2% unemployment because the rate was dropping dramatically (it had been over 10%) as the economy grew very rapidly in 1983 and 1984. Today, in contrast, the Federal Reserve says growth will be less than 3% this year and less than 3.8% next year, with unemployment between 7.8% and 8.2% by Election Day."
  • Obama is leading crony capitalism Sarah Palin. "Crony Capitalism on Steroids from GE to Solyndra." Free Republic. Sep 14th, 2011: "Having grown up with great respect for GE thanks to stories my grandfather shared with us about his days working for the company and even meeting GE spokesman-at-the-time Ronald Reagan during a company event, I am saddened at GE’s leadership evolution. This corporation is now the poster child of corporate welfare and crony capitalism. This icon of American industry is a company full of good employees who make some good products (and is the parent company of a huge media outlet), but GE is also a large American corporation that pays virtually no corporate income taxes despite earning worldwide profits of $14.2 billion last year, $5.1 billion of it in the United States. In fact, they claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion, meaning they received more of our hard earned tax dollars than they contributed. How is that possible? It’s because not only do they shelter their money from taxes, but they also get many tax credits, loans, government grants, and other benefits from the federal government that our smaller businesses couldn’t even imagine being able to profit from."
  • Obama is engaged in class warfare (against upper-middle class) Joel Kotkin. "Obama's off-target class war." Politico. October 12th, 2011: "For many conservatives, the notion of class warfare that President Barack Obama now evokes is both un-American and noxious — a crass attempt to cash in on envy among the masses. Yet the problem is not in class warfare itself — but in being clear what class you are targeting. In this sense, Obama’s populism is little more than a faux version. He is not really going after the privileges of the super-rich — that would involve actions like removing the advantages of capital gains over earned income or limiting dodges to nonprofit foundations or family trusts. Rather than a war against plutocrats, Obama’s thrust is against the upper end of the middle class, whose income is most vulnerable to higher taxes."
  • Increasing taxes on big companies will limit job-creation. "Obama Could Skip the Class Warfare and Let the Oil and Gas Industry Create Jobs." Fox News. October 3rd, 2011: "President Obama conjured up his favorite boogeyman recently: the oil and gas industry. He reached for it when he released his job creation and deficit reduction package. Despite the fact that the oil and gas industry pays over $86 million a day in income taxes, royalties, bonuses and rents to the federal government, the president claimed that U.S. energy producers have not paid 'their fair share.' The president is proposing an additional $41 billion in new taxes on energy producers. This will result in higher energy prices, more oil imports, and in the end, few jobs in America. No wonder why the economy continues to be mired in an economic funk. President Obama is trying to exploit the misperception that the energy industry earns undo profits, when in fact it earned a net income of just 6 cents on the dollar. That compares unfavorably to the 8.6 cents for all U.S. manufacturing, according to third quarter 2010 data from API. But the president expects his class warfare argument to resonate beyond his core base of voters, he may be disappointed. Energy production reinvestments by oil and gas companies provided the United States with a $470 billion stimulus in spending, wages, and dividends in 2010, making it one of the few bright spots in the current economy. And it's ordinary middle-class American investors - millions of them, in fact - who own most oil company stock through mutual funds, pension funds, and retirement accounts. Ironically, the fine print of the President's proposal is riddled with job-killing shenanigans through the tax code. A study by Louisiana State University finance professor Joseph Mason concludes that just part of the president's plan would result in 155,000 job losses at the cost of $68 billion in lost wages. Obama's proposal is bad news to long-suffering American families at a time when the national unemployment remains fixed above 9 percent. Another irony is that the president's proposal would actually exacerbate the budget deficit. By increasing federal tax increase by $5 billion per year on the oil and gas industry, this would lead to lower domestic energy production as companies would produce less in the U.S. because of higher cost and instead import more oil. Instead of leading to higher government revenue, this scheme would result in a $128 billion loss for in government revenues, according to a study by energy research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie."
  • 2009 stimulus was filled with waste and misconceptions. John Feehery. "Opinion: Obama’s fatal missteps." The Hill. October 3rd, 2011: "1. Failed to veto the initial stimulus package: Imagine for a moment if Obama had vetoed that initial stimulus package. Imagine if he insisted that Democratic leaders take out all the pork and cleanse the bill of unworthy projects. Imagine if he had insisted that congressional Democrats work with Republicans to include their ideas, because we are all in this together. He would have immediately branded himself as a different kind of president, as someone above the fray, as a leader who cares first about the country, not the Democratic Party. And if he had done that, he would have had the Republicans hopelessly divided. Of course, he didn’t take that step, congressional Democrats were able to walk all over him and Republicans stiffened up their resolve and presented a united front against the president and his plans."
  • Obama has changed America, for the worse. Pete Du Pont. "More of the Same Old Change." Wall Street Journal. September 30th, 2011: "In the last few years, as promised, the Obama administration has fundamentally transformed America. Our country is now in serious decline. Income is lower, unemployment is higher, jobs are fewer, government is much larger. Federal spending is way up, and America's economic status is way down, as is the global view of our country and our economy. Hardly anyone sees any sign of economic recovery or improvement."
  • The failed $850 billion stimulus
  • High, persistent unemployment
  • High gas prices
  • The seizure of GM and Chrysler, the transfer of bondholder wealth to unions, and the dumping of the GM stock at a loss
  • Dodd-Frank
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Debt/deficit:

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Pro

  • Obama rightly asks wealthy to pay fairer share in taxes President Obama said on September 19th of 2011: “I will not support — I will not support — any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans. And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.”[4]
  • You can't solve deficit by just getting rid of waste/fraud. Barack Obama. "President Obama: Go 'big' on debt deal." USA Today. July 21st, 2011: "the American people deserve the truth from their leaders. And the truth is, you can't get rid of the deficit by simply eliminating waste and fraud, or getting rid of pet projects and foreign aid, like some have suggested. Those things represent only a tiny fraction of what we spend our money on."
  • Obama has taken steps to combat US debt/deficit. Issued an executive order to create the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Signed an Executive Order on government contracting to fight waste and abuse. Created task force to fight deficit.
  • Obama's leadership on debt was sabotaged by Congressional GOP
  • Launched initiatives to fight tax evasion. Endorsed Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax havens. Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals.
  • Ensured taxpayers recovered bailouts to banks and companies. Managed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) passed under President Bus in 2008. Banks have repaid 75% of TARP funds, bringing the cost down to $89B as of June 2010. Sold 1.5 billion shares of Citigroup at a profit. Sold govt stakes in big three car companies at a profit.
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Con

  • Obama doesn't have a serious debt plan. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner: "They've been unwilling to put a real plan on the table. Without serious spending cuts ... this problem is not going to be solved."[5]
  • Obama is out of sync with the demands of America's debt Noemie Emery. "Rumors of Barack Obama’s political skill have been greatly exaggerated." The Weekly Standard. October 10th, 2011: "Good politicians are in sync with their times, understand them, and deal with their challenges. But Obama is at odds, and often at war, with his own. In an age when debt is a problem, he is a big spender; when government has to cut back, he wants to expand both its expense and its reach. Nothing that happens appears to deter him, not the massive pushback from the American people in the 2009 and 2010 elections; not the crisis in Europe, kicked off by the collapse of Greece’s finances in April 2010, which caused an austerity panic all over Europe, and should have driven home the most cogent of lessons: that exactly as he was trying to turn his country into a social democracy like those of old Europe, which the American left had long admired, the European social democracies had been forced to admit that their model could not be sustained."


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Healthcare:

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Pro

  • Affordable Care Act is good public policy.
  • Affordable Care Act based off of Romney's plan in MA. "Newly obtained White House records provide fresh details on how senior Obama administration officials used Mitt Romney’s landmark health-care law in Massachusetts as a model for the new federal law, including recruiting some of Romney’s own health care advisers and experts to help craft the act now derided by Republicans as 'Obamacare.' The records, gleaned from White House visitor logs reviewed by NBC News, show that senior White House officials had a dozen meetings in 2009 with three health-care advisers and experts who helped shape the health care reform law signed by Romney in 2006, when the Republican presidential candidate was governor of Massachusetts. One of those meetings, on July 20, 2009, was in the Oval Office and presided over by President Barack Obama, the records show. ... When it comes to government-mandated health care, there is no difference between Mitt Romney and President Obama,” Perry spokesman, Mark Miner.[6]
  • Pushed investigation of excessive insurance rate hikes. Held impromptu press conference to urge Congress to investigate Anthem Blue Cross and other corporate health insurance companies that raise premiums in high amounts without explanation. Rep. Henry Waxman launches probe. In this case, Anthem Blue Cross wanted to raise premiums 39%. They have now put the increase on hold for two months (as of February 2010). Legislation preventing such increases pending.
  • Provided emergency healthcare to laid off workers. Extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the nation's unemployed from 9 months to 15 months. Workers laid off between September 1, 2008 and February 28, 2010 qualify.
  • Took major steps toward universal and stronger healthcare. Cracked down on companies that deny sick pay, vacation and health insurance to workers by abusing the employee classification of independent contractor. Such companies also avoid paying Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes for those workers. Signed the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act on February 4, 2009, which provides quality health care to 11 million kids – 4 million who were previously uninsured.
  • Repealed restrictions on life-saving embryonic stem cell research. Issued an Executive Order repealing the Bush-Era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. Provided federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research.
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Con

  • Obamacare was a bad political move for Obama. John Feehery. "Opinion: Obama’s fatal missteps." The Hill. October 3rd, 2011: "6. Signed ObamaCare: By pushing through an ungainly and unpopular healthcare law, with little if any support from the opposition party, the president gained little traction politically, and put his allies in the worst possible position on Capitol Hill. In fact, the anger stoked by passage of the bill led to one of the largest repudiations of any president, in the midterm elections of 2010."
  • Republican Paul Ryan has provided an alternative to Obamacare. Ramesh Ponnuru. "Paul Ryan’s Strong Antidote to Obama Health Care." Bloomberg. Oct 3rd, 2011: "Republicans say they want to 'repeal and replace' the health-care law President Barack Obama signed last year, but they are a lot more specific about the first half than the second. Representative Paul Ryan wants to bring some balance to the slogan. In a Sept. 27 speech to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee supplied an Obamacare alternative of his own. Ryan has the right diagnosis of what’s wrong with federal health-care policy, and the right prescription, too. He just needs to adjust the dosage. Thanks in large part to Ryan’s efforts, congressional Republicans have already embraced two of the ideas in his speech. They want the federal government to give states a fixed amount of money to run Medicaid, instead of paying for half of whatever the states decide to cover for the poor. And they want to replace Medicare with “premium support” for future senior citizens, who would purchase private insurance using capped federal subsidies."
  • AFA only offers access to about 20,000 w/ pre-existing conditions. John Goodman. "Is There a Moral Case for ObamaCare?" National Center for Policy Analysis. July 6th, 2011: "Almost everybody already has access to affordable care! At last count, there were about 22,000 Americans with serious health problems who could not obtain health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. (See here and here.) The ACA has solved their problems by providing good coverage for the same premium healthy people pay. While this change is no doubt very important to the people affected, it is relatively trivial in the great scheme of things."
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Foreign policy:

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Pro

  • Obama never apologized for US, he repudiated Bush policies. Barack Obama never said, "I apologize for America" as so many off-base Republicans have argued. Rather, he was separating himself from the damaging worldview of the Bush administration that launched the War in Iraq, opened Guantanamo, and initiated enhanced interrogations (or torture as many call it). He was criticizing Bush's policies and recognizing the mistakes that his administration made, which is completely different than "apologizing" for America. He has always talked about the example America provides to the world, how it's the "greatest nation on earth," and how it will always grow and lead the world.
  • Obama has successfully executed the War on Terror. Richard Wolf. "Killings boost Obama's national security credentials." ABC News: "People want their president to lead, no matter where they are philosophically," says Rep. C.A. 'Dutch' Ruppersberger, D-Md., top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee: "If you look at his policies, whether you're Republican or Democrat, he's done well in this area. We're safer because of his decisions." If nothing else, says Tufts University's Richard Eichenberg, an expert on public opinion and foreign policy, Obama's success removes a perennial Republican argument: that Democrats are weak on national security."
  • Obama has tried to unite America in common defense. President Obama. "Let's reclaim the post-9/11 unity." USA Today. September 08, 2011: "on a day when others tried to divide us, we can regain the sense of common purpose that stirred in our hearts 10 years ago. As a nation, we face difficult challenges, and as citizens in a democratic society we engage in vigorous debates about the future. But as we do, let's never forget the lesson we learned anew 10 years ago — that our differences pale beside what unites us and that when we choose to move forward together, as one American family, the United States doesn't just endure, we can emerge from our tests and trials stronger than before."
  • Obama is a leader of freedom around the world. President Obama said during commemorations to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in September of 2011: "To nations and people seeking a future of peace and prosperity, you have a partner in the United States. For even as we confront economic challenges at home, the United States will continue to play a unique leadership role in the world."[7]
  • Implemented plan to responsibly end the war in Iraq.
  • Obama rightly drew down in Iraq, refocused on Afgh Developed a comprehensive new strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan that will help defeat Al Qaeda and authorized the deployment of more than 21,000 troops to Afghanistan.
  • Obama ended torture and began closure of Guantanamo Bay. Ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay and a review of our detention and interrogation policy. The US now has a no torture policy and is in compliance with the Geneva Convention standards. Ordered secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed.
  • Passed New START treaty, fighting nuclear proliferation.
  • Began normalizing relations with Cuba.
  • Strengthened national service culture and institutions. Signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, a hallmark piece of legislation.
  • Restored relations with the international community. Restored America's reputation as a global leader that will do the "right thing" in world affairs. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office.
  • Signed trade agreement w/ S. Korea and pressured N. Korea. "Obama, Lee hail trade deal, pressure North Korea." Reuters. October 13th, 2011: "U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday hailed a long-sought trade deal as an engine for job creation in both countries and presented a united front in the North Korean nuclear standoff. The two leaders also coordinated strategy to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, saying Pyongyang had a stark choice to make. But they stopped short of offering any new ideas for re-engaging with the isolated communist state."
  • Obama imposed sanctions on Syria for repression. Barack Obama. "Time for Assad to Go." Real Clear World. August 22nd, 2011: "As a part of that effort, my Administration is announcing unprecedented sanctions to deepen the financial isolation of the Assad regime and further disrupt its ability to finance a campaign of violence against the Syrian people. I have signed a new Executive Order requiring the immediate freeze of all assets of the Government of Syria subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transaction involving the Government of Syria. This E.O. also bans U.S. imports of Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products; prohibits U.S. persons from having any dealings in or related to Syria's petroleum or petroleum products; and prohibits U.S. persons from operating or investing in Syria. We expect today's actions to be amplified by others."
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Con

  • Obama wrongly apologizes for America Mitt Romney in his book No apology: "President Obama's American Apology Tour. Never before in American history has its president gone before so many foreign audiences to apologize for so many American misdeeds, both real and imagined. It is his ways of signaling to foreign countries and foreign leaders that their dislike for America is something he understands and that is, at least in part, understandable."
  • US foreign policy has generally been a mess under Obama Nile Gardiner. "Barack Obama’s disastrous first 1,000 days." The Telegraph. October 18th, 2011: "US foreign policy under Obama has been a confusing mess. The shameless appeasement of Iran has allowed the rogue state to advance perilously close to nuclear weapons capability, while the naïve “reset” approach towards Russia has only encouraged a more aggressive and assertive Moscow. At the same time, traditional alliances with Great Britain and Israel have been downgraded, and key allies in eastern and central Europe thrown under the bus to feed the Russian bear. While America’s defences have grown weaker, China’s military might has grown significantly stronger, as have the offensive capabilities of hostile regimes in both Asia and Latin America, including Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela."
  • Obama doesn't have a foreign policy doctrine. "Goldberg: Obama, abroad, is adrift." LA Times. September 6th, 2011: "there's something peculiar about Obama's foreign policy: There doesn't seem to be one. Talking about Libya, Ben Rhodes, the director for strategic communications at the National Security Council, told the New York Times: 'We've resisted the notion of a doctrine, because we don't think you can impose one model on very different countries; that gets you into trouble and can lead you to intervene in places that you shouldn't.' This strikes me as wildly overstated, even bizarre. A doctrine, in and of itself, doesn't compel anyone to do anything."
  • Obama plays neutral arbitrator between enemies and allies. Mitt Romney in his book No apology: "President Obama is well on his way toward engineering a dramatic shift in this American foreign policy, based on his own underlying attitudes. The first of these envisions America as a nation whose purpose is to arbitrate disputes rather than to advocate ideals, a country consciously seeking equidistance between allies and adversaries. We have never seen anything quite like it, really. And in positioning the United States in the way he has, President Obama has positioned himself as a figure transcending America instead of defending America. ... By seeking to appease its enemies, the United States will...only...alienate its allies and eventually America will have no friends at all."
  • President Obama is too willing to negotiate w/o preconditions. Mitt Romney writes in his 2011 book No Apologies: "President Obama sends a signal that he is eager to negotiate at any time, any place, without conditions; the effect of this is to cede all of the power and leverage to our enemies. Time and again, President Obama's open hand has been met with a clenched fist."
  • Obama is reluctant to spread American democratic ideals. Mitt Romney in his book No apology: "Compounding all of this is the president's reluctance to speak out with confidence for American ideals abroad - to carry on the tradition begun by Harry Truman with a rhetorical lineage extending all the way back to our Founding era: While he will occasionally say a good word on behalf of democracy and human rights, there is no passion in his words - and he has not made them a priority anywhere in the world. The president's support for liberty appears to be pro forma and mechanical, as if it is an afterthought."
  • Obama appears to believe America is in inevitable decline. Mitt Romney in his book No apology: Mitt Romney in his book No apology: "Another of President Obama's presuppositions is that America is in a state of inevitable decline. He seems to believe that we have entered the "post-American world' predicted by Fareed Zakaria's best-selling book of that name."
  • Obama has been overly hostile to Israel. This has included an attack on apartment expansion and icing of Prime Minister Netanyahu in basement of White House.
  • Attempt to close Guantanamo, try terrorists in NYC.
  • Bowing to the Saudi King and the Japanese emperor.[8]
  • Returning the bust of Churchill to Great Britain.[9]
  • Removing missile shields from Poland, Czech Republic.[10]
  • Backing the would-be dictator of Hondorus when that nation's Supreme Court rightfully removed him from office."[11]
  • Failure to advocate for free trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea.[12]
  • Indecisiveness in Afghanistan. The Obama Project: "Indecision on Afghanistan surge coupled with announcement of eventual withdrawal."[13]
  • Incoherence in Egypt. The Obama Project: "Incoherence on Egypt, most obviously with the dispatch of Frank Wizner and then rejection of Wizner's advice vis-a-vis Mubarak."[14]
  • Filling out college basketball bracket during ME unrest. The Obama Project: "Dabbling in basketball brackets while the Middle East fell into chaos and the gas prices skyrocketed."[15]
  • Failure to support Iran's Green Revolution
  • Failure to support Syrian revolution
  • The Libyan Fiasco
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Environment:

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Pro

  • Solyndra was a lost bet, but there are always risks. “Hindsight is always 20-20,” Obama told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News in October of 2011. “It went through the regular review process. And people felt like this was a good bet.” Solyndra didn’t work out, but that’s the kind of risk the United States must take to compete with countries like China that subsidize solar power.
  • Obama has taken major steps to fight climate change. Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, and addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference. Empowered states to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards. Appointed Special Envoys for Climate Change, Southwest Asia, the Middle East, Sudan, and a Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Increased, for the first time in more than a decade, the fuel economy standards for Model Year 2011 for cars and trucks so they will get better mileage. Issued a Presidential Memorandum to the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances. Unveiled a program on Earth Day 2009 to develop the renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents. These regulations will enable, for the first time ever, the nation to tap into our ocean’s vast sustainable resources to generate clean energy in an environmentally sound and safe manner. Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic. Supported the first steps of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide.
  • Led on major environmental policies. Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Amendments Act of 2009. Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Stewardship of the Ocean (established National Ocean Council ), our Coasts and the Great Lakes (Executive Order). Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance (Executive Order). Established partnerships to share environmental technology with other countries. Increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Increased funding for national parks and forests. $175 million of ARRA allocated for water conservation, $135 million of that in the West. Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic. Expanded access to places to hunt and fish. Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration (Executive Order). Led effort to phase out whaling. Pursued a wildfire management plan. Encouraged more controlled burns to reduce wildfires. Ordered removal of more brush, small trees and vegetation that fuel wildfires.
  • Obama has managed numerous natural disasters deftly. Including severe winter ice storms and flooding in several states, Hurricane Irene, and the Gulf Oil Spill.
  • Subsidizing clean energy still makes sense even after Solyndra James Surowiecki. "A waste of energy?" The New Yorker. October 10th, 2011: "Washington being what it is, the backlash against green subsidies is no surprise. But it’s an overreaction every bit as hysterical as the pro-Solyndra hype was. Industrial policy does have a checkered history, and in much of the developing world government intervention in the marketplace has translated mainly into crony capitalism. But in other places the story is more encouraging; many economists argue that government intervention in the market was instrumental in the postwar rise of countries like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan; more recently, Germany has built a sizable solar industry using subsidies. It’s certainly true that we don’t want government to be in the business of helping decide which big-box retailer or maker of MP3 players has the best chance of succeeding. But it’s also true that there are a few industries where it makes a lot of sense for the government to complement the market by subsidizing research and development. Renewable energy is one of them. That’s because the energy market is not like most other markets. Indeed, the economics of alternative energy are such that private investors, left to their own devices, are bound to underinvest in it, since the considerable social benefits—cleaner air, fewer greenhouse emissions—accrue to everyone, not just to direct customers. That means that the economic rate of return is significantly less than the social rate of return. Energy markets are also dominated by entrenched, regulated companies, and that reduces the incentive for investment; despite the immense size of the energy market, as of 2005 spending on energy R. & D. accounted for just two per cent of total spending on R. & D. in the U.S. This creates an opportunity for the government to add value by investing smartly, just as it can add value by spending money on education or infrastructure, other areas where the social returns are greater than the economic ones."


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Con

  • Obama's clean energy economy, "green jobs" have faltered. Debra Saunders. "Pop goes the green jobs bubble." Real Clear Politics. October 13th, 2011: "Before his American Jobs Act failed to pass a Senate cloture vote Tuesday, President Barack Obama made a last-ditch speech to talk up his troubled bill. Not once did Obama mention "green jobs" -- his erstwhile jobs of the future. Smart move. Obama's 2009 $787 billion stimulus package included $500 million for training programs that were supposed to create new green jobs for thousands of middle-class Americans. Last month, however, the Department of Labor's inspector general conducted an audit that found that as of June 30 -- with one-third of the funds spent and more than 50,000 participants -- only 10 percent of trainees were placed in jobs. And only 1,336 participants, or 2 percent, had held jobs for six months or longer."
  • Solyndra shows failure of Obama's clean energy subsidies Matthew Continetti. "Solyndracracy" The Weekly Standard. October 10th, 2011: "The details of the Solyndra case are a muckraker’s dream: Here’s a company backed by an Obama donor which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government; that used taxpayer money to build a state-of-the-art plant which became a green-energy mecca for Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Vice President Biden (via satellite), and the president himself; that benefited, after it defaulted on the original terms, from an extraordinary loan modification which kept the business alive for another six months and which (illegally) ensured that private investors would be reimbursed before John Q. Public in bankruptcy court; and that may have lied to the government repeatedly throughout its long and sorry quest for favors. Ida Tarbell would have killed for this story."
  • Obama's "clean energy economy" is crony capitalism. Sarah Palin. "Crony Capitalism on Steroids from GE to Solyndra." Free Republic. Sep 14th, 2011: "Joining GE in the pantheon on crony capitalism is another Obama favorite that has been in the news of late: Solyndra. The President hailed this “green energy” company in a speech last May as “the true engine of economic growth.” When he announced the $535 million guarantee to Solyndra, Vice President Biden said that investments like this are “exactly what the Recovery Act is all about.” (Dear God…If the failed Solyndra venture has been what it’s “all about,” then that explains a lot.) As I pointed out in my speech at the Reagan Ranch Center last February: “History has proven again and again, when government picks the winners and losers, we’re stuck with the losers, and we the taxpayers subsidize failure!” And that’s what we’re seeing now, as the FBI raids the solar energy company’s headquarters to glean more information after the company was handed half a billion dollars in “green energy” Stimulus funds from the American taxpayer only to later declare bankruptcy. More than one thousand Solyndra workers lost their jobs. Now as the truth comes out, we discover that the White House was heavily involved in the Department of Energy’s rushed decision to give the Stimulus funds to Solyndra, and they tried to move the money through so quickly they seem to have ignored concerns that the company was not viable. Why would they do this? Perhaps it’s because a large investor in the company (about 35%) is Obama campaign bundler George Kaiser. And with the way the deal is structured, Kaiser will get his debts paid before we the taxpayers see any relief. That is sickening. And that’s how it works: workers lose their jobs, wealthy political cronies stand a good chance of getting their money back, and the U.S. taxpayer gets the shaft. Again."
  • Govnt good at broad investments, not picking companies. "Solyndra: A bad bet Obama should regret." Washington Post. October 6th, 2011: "Government can foster clean energy by subsidizing basic research, whose fruits become available to a variety of entrepreneurs, and by setting broad incentives that shift demand in favor of alternative energy. Subsidizing selected technologies or companies, by contrast, is a game that taxpayers often lose, as the history of boondoggles from synthetic fuels to the fast breeder reactor suggests. We suspect China will learn this lesson, too."
  • Incompetent handling of the Gulf Oil disaster.
  • The shutdown of Shell's Arctic oil exploration by EPA
  • The president's push for cap-and-tax in the Congress
  • The president's attempt to unconstitutionally impose cap-and-tax via EPA when the Congress wouldn't pass cap-and-tax.
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Immigration:

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Pro

  • Obama focuses on a path to citizenship, not mass deportations. Mass deportations of 15 million illegal immigrants currently in the US is simply not feasible. And, efforts to push them out via disincentives and cracking-down on employers would be too disruptive on small businesses and local economies that has come to rely on both their employment and consumption of goods. An earned path to citizenship, which the President supports, is therefore the best policy - although Republican opposition makes this difficult.
  • Obama has focused significant resources on securing the border.
  • Obama focuses on deporting criminal undocumented immigrants Obama's policy on illegal immigrants currently residing in the US focuses on deporting only those that are criminally active. For the other 12 to 15 non-criminally active undocumented immigrants, Obama focuses on integrating them into the country through an earned path to citizenship.


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Con

  • Obama's immigration policies ignore the law. Obama's immigration policies ignore American laws, which call illegal immigrants illegal immigrants and mandate that they be imprisoned and deported. Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said, "The Obama administration should enforce immigration laws, not look for ways to ignore them."[16]
  • Obama wrongly cancelled "virtual border fence" project. "Obama Project: The Case for Change:" "Cancellation of 'virtual border fence' project with no replacement or indeed concern for border security."
  • Obama wrongly attacked Arizona's immigration law. "Obama Project: The Case for Change:" "The Department of Justice's attack on Arizona for that state's exercise of its sovereign legislative authority on the issue of citizen identification rules."
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Military:

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Pro

  • Improved services, benefits, and respect for troops. Provided better body armor to our troops. Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America’s Veterans. Ended media blackout on war casualties and the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB. Announced creation of a Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record for members of the U.S. Armed Forces to improve quality of medical care. Ended the previous stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date. Signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act authorizing advance appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs by providing two-fiscal year budget authority thus enabling better medical care for veterans. Endorsed by the American Legion, American Veterans, Blinded Veter...ans Association, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Military Officers Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America.
  • Obama has cut wasteful/excessive military spending. Committed to phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane and other outdates weapons systems, which weren't even used or needed in Iraq/Afghanistan. Signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act to stop fraud and wasteful spending in the defense procurement and contracting system. Authorized cutting the missile defense program by $1.4 billion in 2010.


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Con

  • Obama failed to prosecute torture under Bush. Jonathan Turley. "Obama: A disaster for civil liberties." LA Times. September 29th, 2011: "Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the 'just following orders' defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II."



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General:

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Pro

  • General statements supporting a second term for Obama. Beyonce told CNN's Piers Morgan in June of 2011: "I think he's doing a great job. I think he's fantastic. I think he needs another term, he needs more time."[17]
  • Obama is smarter and more capable than the other candidates. "President Obama deserves reelection." The Chattanoogan. August 15th, 2011: "In the President, we have an eminently qualified, Harvard educated, constitutional scholar. He's the man who got Osama bin Laden after eight years of empty bluster by George Bush. He's the man who delivered on America's long overdue promise of universal health care. Contrast these qualifications with apparent Republican front runner, and Tea Party darling, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Here's a woman who actually believes the first shots of the American Revolution were fired in Concord, N.H., and that the slave-holding Founding Fathers, Washington, Jefferson and Madison 'worked tireless to end slavery.' Here's a woman who expects the public to believe that authorship of something so inane as The Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act qualifies one to be President."
  • Obama is doing the best he can with a dysfunctional Congress. Comment by A Change is Needed on BarackObama.com: "Those against the President don't seem to realize that he can only work with what he has. His executive powers to 'do things' on his own are limited. That being said, when you have a congress that from the outset pledged to do something that is moronic IMHO... no tax increases at any cost, saying 'NO' to everything that he proposes and only pass bills that he can't sign because they do not help the country or represent the American people... and then focus on everything that he is not doing... that is just dysfunction. Obama is doing the best he can with out currently dysfunction government."
  • Barack Obama is only human. Athleen Rosell. "Devil's Advocate: Re-Elect Obama." The Daily Titan. April 19th, 2011: "But one thing the country has forgotten is that Barack Obama, 49, is only human. His lofty campaign slogans gave people an idea that he was their savior here to thwart the wrongdoers in the world and save them from everything. The reason people are so unhappy with the last two years is they have realized that he is mortal and cannot just wiggle his ears and change the world. It does not work that way."
  • President Obama is far better than the Republican right-wing nominees. Anthony Gonzalez. "Why Republicans will re-elect Obama." Ocolly.com. August 25th, 2011: "Obama is well-placed to win reelection, and it's not because of his approval. Obama will win reelection because the Republican nominees have lost any semblance of sanity. The far-right is not America, and if the Republican Party doesn't see that in 2012, they will be wondering how Obama won by such a large margin come Election Day."
  • White House decision-making has been very strong. Steven Rattner. "Ron Suskind’s inaccurate revisionism." Politico. October 1st, 2011: "came to Washington expecting — as most everyone in the corporate world would – to enter a White House of flying elbows, hidden agendas, loose analysis and intense political overtones. Instead, I saw the opposite: an orderly and organized environment, whose tone was set by an orderly and organized president. First, the president was focused, engaged and decisive, even when confronted with an unfamiliar and thorny problem, as I wrote in my book."[18]
  • President Obama has a long list of major achievements Chris Weigl, Screenwriter and Political Consultant on Quara: "Require economic justification for tax changes Implement "Women Owned Business" contracting program Change standards for determining broadband access Establish a credit card bill of rights. Expand loan programs for small businesses Extend the Bush tax cuts for lower incomes. Extend and index the 2007 Alternative Minimum Tax patch Close the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription drug plan Expand the Senior Corps volunteer program. Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing

conditions. Give tax credits to those who need help to pay health premiums. Require large employers to contribute to a national health plan."


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Con

  • Obama is Politician-In-Chief, not Commander-In-Chief Mitt Romney. "We need a leader, not a politician." USA Today. June 10th, 2010: "Has it come to this again? The president is meeting with his oil spill experts, he crudely tells us, so that he knows "whose ass to kick." We have become accustomed to his management style — target a scapegoat, assign blame and go on the attack. To win health care legislation, he vilified insurance executives; to escape bankruptcy law for General Motors, he demonized senior lenders; to take the focus from the excesses of government, he castigated business meetings in Las Vegas; and to deflect responsibility for the deepening and lengthening downturn, he blames Wall Street and George W. Bush. But what may make good politics does not make good leadership. And when a crisis is upon us, America wants a leader, not a politician."
  • Obama is wrongly trying to change America. Sarah Palin: "We're up against ... Barack Obama's very strange fundamental transformation of the country that we so love. We don't need a transformation. As you know, we need a fundamental restoration of all that is good and strong and free in America."[19]
  • Obama is filled with contempt for America. Brett Stevens. "The President of Contempt." The Wall Street Journal. October 4th, 2011: "'between flattery and admiration there often flows a river of contempt.' When it comes to Mr. Obama, boy does it ever. We caught flashes of the contempt during the campaign. There were those small-town Midwesterners who, as he put it at a San Francisco fund-raiser, 'cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who are not like them.' There were those racist Republicans who, as he put it at a Jacksonville fund-raiser, would campaign against him by asking, 'Did I mention he's black?' There was the 'you're likable enough, Hillary,' line during a New Hampshire debate. But these were unscripted digressions and could be written off as such. Only after Mr. Obama came to office did it start to become clear that contempt would be both a style and method of his governance. Take the 'mess we have inherited' line, which became the administration's ring tone for its first two years. 'I have never seen anything like the mess we have inherited,' said the late Richard Holbrooke—a man with memories of what Nixon inherited in Vietnam from Johnson—about Afghanistan in February 2009. 'We are cleaning up something that is—quite simply—a mess,' said the president the following month about Guantanamo. "Let's face it, we inherited a mess," said Valerie Jarrett about the economy in March 2010.'"
  • Obama has exceeded his executive powers; imperial presidency. Ken Blackwell & Ken Klukowski. "Obama’s imperial presidency." Daily Caller. September 6th, 2011: "President Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is on a job-killing rampage. It’s claiming unprecedented powers far beyond what federal law allows. In the context of Obama’s other agencies’ decisions, these executive actions paint a picture of what has become an imperial presidency. A federal appeal is certain once the NLRB’s shocking attack on Boeing goes through the administrative process. In a free-market society, government bureaucrats cannot dictate to a private company where it can and cannot open factories or create jobs. Boeing — whose general counsel was formerly one of the most brilliant federal judges in America, Michael Luttig — should win this court battle. The NLRB’s power grab is not limited to Boeing. It’s also claiming jurisdiction over St. Xavier University, saying that the school doesn’t qualify for the religious exemption to NLRB’s authority because St. Xavier is not Catholic enough. NLRB cites a 1979 Supreme Court case as giving it this authority, when that case instead makes clear that this government agency would be running afoul of the First Amendment by presuming to rate the religiosity of bona fide church organizations. Nor is this executive power grab confined to the NLRB. The Environmental Protection Agency is promulgating sweeping new regulations that would impose expensive mandates on everything from power plants to car mileage. The Federal Communications Commission has claimed power to control the Internet, in
  • The president's verbal assault on the Supreme Court while the members of the Court sat before him in the state of the Union
  • Barack Obama is just another Jimmy Carter.
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Congressional relations:

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Pro

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Con

  • Obama has done a poor job asking for Congressional votes. "I think one of the problems with the White House is that it’s been too set apart. It’s been too Chicago-centric, and it needs to get out." said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). "Clinton didn’t just talk to four leaders, he picked up the phone and he kind of said, ‘I really need your vote on this.’"[20]
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Technology:

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Pro

  • Obama has created online tools to foster dialogue/opportunity. Launched Business.gov – enabling conversation and online collaboration between small business owners, government representatives and industry experts in discussion forums relevant to starting and managing a business. Answered questions at the first online town hall from the White House that were submitted and voted on transparently by the public at WhiteHouse.gov. Established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities. Appointed the first ever Federal Chief Information Officer to provide management and oversight over federal IT spending.


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Con

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Education:

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Pro

  • Generally increased funding to education. Provided over $2.3 billion in additional funding to Head Start and Early Head Start programs in 2009. Provided $5 billion dollars for Early Learning Programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Roughly doubled the amount available in Federal Child Care Block Grants.
  • Provided funding to bring education into Internet age. Provided funding for high-speed, broadband Internet access to K-12 schools.
  • Strengthened student aid. Enacted largest reform of student aid in 40 years. Provided means for students struggling to make college loan payments to refinance. Expanded Pell grants for low-income students. Expanded Pell grant pool by eliminating private lender subsidies for student loans. Signed Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. Fully funded the Community Development Block Grant. Established “Promise Neighborhood” Grants (modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone).
  • Provided funding for build new schools. Established State Equalization Fund; new funds for school construction (ARRA). Provided $77 Billion for reforms to to strengthen Elementary and Secondary education.
  • Encouraged entering the teaching profession. Recruited math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession.
  • Encouraged students to go into math, science, engineering. Established school programs to highlight space and science achievements.
  • Obama has protected education jobs. Protected 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors through the Recovery Act that would have otherwise been lost. In 2010, offered $26 billion state aid package saved 160,000 teacher jobs (Aug 2010).
  • Offered finance and budget education to Americans. Established President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans.
  • Helped rebuild schools in New Orleans.
  • Obama took significant strides in promoting the arts/culture. Increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to the highest level since 1992. Created an artist corps for public schools. Championed the importance of arts education. Promoted cultural diplomacy.[21]


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Con

  • "Government takeover of the student loan program." - Obama Project.[22]
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Disadvantaged:

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Pro

  • Obama has helped protect and advance interests of disabled. Signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis. Appointed the first Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. Provided $12.2 billion in new funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Act though the American Recovery and investment Act. Signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Increased Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities (Exec Order)(celebrating 20th anniversary of the ADA).
  • Improved health access for disadvantaged. Expanded the Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers. Provided affordable, high-quality child care.
  • Obama has helped fight poverty and help disadvantaged. Signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Office of Urban Affairs.
  • Unveiled initiatives to help men be better fathers
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Con

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Gay rights:

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Pro

  • Led repeal of 'don't ask don't tell' military policy.
  • Protected LGBT community against hate crimes. Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that made it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.[23]
  • Extended federal benefits to gay partners. Presidential Memorandum extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
  • Protected gay partner rights on visitation, healthcare decisions. Presidential Memorandum protecting gay and lesbian partners’ visitation/healthcare decision-making rights (4/15/2010).
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Con

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Sex:

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Pro

  • Ended funding for ineffective abstinence-only education. Eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education which was significantly increased during the Bush Administration to $176 million annually.


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Con

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Gender:

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Pro

  • Improved gender equality through hallmark measures. Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. Signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls to provide a coordinated Federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families. Financial agencies must establish Offices of Women and Minorities to promote more diverse hiring.
  • Appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history including more women appointees than any other incoming president.
  • Financial agencies must establish Offices of Women and Minorities to promote more diverse hiring
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Con

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Guns:

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Pro

  • Obama respects gun rights, but seeks background checks President Obama: "We must seek agreement on gun reforms." Arizona Daily Star. March 13th, 2011: "A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun. [...] I'm willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few - dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example - from getting their hands on a gun in the first place. I'm willing to bet they don't think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas - that we should check someone's criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn't be able to buy a gun so easily; that there's room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment. That's why our focus right now should be on sound and effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place. First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that's supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn't been properly implemented. It relies on data supplied by states - but that data is often incomplete and inadequate. We must do better. Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data - and therefore do the most to protect our citizens. Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can't escape it."
  • Obama believes in an individual right to bear arms.


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Con

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Marijuana:

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Pro

  • Empowered states legalizing medical marijuana to regulate themselves. Fourteen states have allowed some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
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Religion:

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Pro

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Con

  • Obama has rolled back religious liberties. Colleen Carroll Campbell. "Obama is alienating Catholic voters" Real Clear Politics. October 13th, 2011: "A candidate who won their support by pledging to respect the religiously grounded views of those with whom he disagrees has morphed into a president whose administration relentlessly attacks religious liberty. In the past year, Obama's Justice Department has argued in court that defenders of traditional marriage — the most visible segment of which are observant Catholics and bishops — should be regarded in law as the equivalent of racists. His National Labor Relations Board has issued rulings against two Catholic schools, St. Xavier University in Chicago and Manhattan College in New York, saying that they are not sufficiently Catholic to warrant religious exemptions from federal labor law —a stunning breach of the precedent in which religious bodies, not government officials, decide who qualifies as a member of a particular church. Those rulings followed on the heels of a highly publicized crusade by Obama's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to punish North Carolina's Belmont Abbey College for removing contraception coverage from its employee health plans, a move the Catholic school made to conform to church doctrine. And just last week, Obama's Justice Department argued before the Supreme Court for the effective gutting of the longstanding "ministerial exception" that allows religious bodies to hire and fire employees without government interference. The administration's extreme position has drawn criticism from nearly every major religious organization in the country, from the liberal National Council of Churches to the conservative National Association of Evangelicals, all of whom fear that their churches could be the next targets of an overzealous, First-Amendment-trampling Uncle Sam."


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Pro/con sources

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