During a recent news conference, President Obama said, "I think it's fair to say that this has been the most productive post-election period we've had in decades, and it comes on the heels of the most productive two years that we've had in generations."
As we wrap up 2010, it is important to take a reflective look back and see the progress that we have made thus far.
When Obama took office back in 2008, the economy was in a freefall. We were suffering from a trillion dollar deficit, losing over 700,000 jobs a month, and a more than 10% unemployment rate. Without any government action, the U.S. Labor Department predicts we would have lost more than 11 million jobs. Instead, the stimulus package was passed, focusing on long term job creation, preventing another Great Depression, and lowering the unemployment rate to 9.5%.
According to Bloomberg News, the S&P 500 Index has gained almost 39 percent since Congress convened in January 2009, the biggest increase for a two-year congressional session since 1997. With a 10.4% market rise during Obama's first 100 days in office, compared with Reagan’s 4% gain during his first 100 days, and George W. Bush’s 2.3% loss for the equivalent period, we are showing solid signs of economic improvement.
Thanks to comprehensive healthcare reform, 32 million Americans are now insured, and millions more, like me, will no longer be denied or rationed care due to a pre-existing condition; Medicare funds will last longer than expected; students can stay on their parents’ insurance plan until the age of 26; and taxpayers, patients, businesses, and hospitals pay less in insurance fees.
The Obama administration has also succeeded in passing:
• the Financial Regulation bill (instituting greater financial regulation that has put
Main Street, not Wall Street, back in charge);
• the Small Business Lending bill (providing small businesses with tax cuts and lending
assistance, creating American jobs and spurring domestic investment);
• the Credit Card Reform bill (making credit card companies become more transparent and
• the Student Loan Reform bill (improving the Pell Grant system, making it easier to pay
off student loans);
• the Homeowner Loan Program (helping troubled homeowners avoid foreclosures and giving
tax credits for home buyers, increasing investment in new homes);
• the Emergency Jobs bill (preventing states from laying off over 300,000 teachers and
• and the Auto-Industry Bailout (saving the entire U.S. auto industry).
Not to mention, he also ended the Iraq War; made larger investments in cleaner energy programs; nominated two females to the Supreme Court, one of which is the first Latina justice; increased transparency in our government (this is the first time the White House guests list is online); and inspired our youth to engage more frequently in community service programs.
All this progress was achieved before the Democrats lost control of the House and narrowed their margins in the Senate. Even so, this has proven to be the most productive lame-duck Congress in decades.
In just a few weeks after the midterm election, Obama has succeeded in ratifying the START treaty, reducing the payroll tax for 150 million Americans, providing tax cuts for 100 million middle-class families, extending unemployment benefits to over 2 million jobless, working with BOTH parties, and overturning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
However, while Obama has made significant strides to reach across the political aisle, many on the right have simply proven themselves a party of “No”. With 2010 behind us, and a new Congress taking over in just a few short weeks, I hope we can continue making progress and working together on behalf of the American people.
For more information on the progress we have made, please checkout this article from Bloomberg News: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2010-12-22/no-congress-since-1960s-makes-most-laws-for-americans-as-111th.html
Happy New Year!