All Articles Tagged "Obama"
Opinions vary when it comes to President Barack Obama and his administration. But one thing we can all agree on is his job is not an easy one, especially since he’s doing it without the support of his Congressional colleagues.
The United States has a history of tearing down its political leaders, especially ones of color. However, when they get old or have departed this earth, they then get a holiday, a street named after them, curriculum designed around their speeches and ideologies, and parks and buildings named after them. Similarly, when President Obama completes his term as president, he will grace the pages of U.S. history books and have a presidential library in his honor in Chicago. Thinking about these upcoming honors, as well as the talk about President Obama’s legacy and the continuous criticism, I couldn’t help but reflect. Reflect on the idea that it seems like our Black leaders are more valuable in death to people than they are while living.
Well, I refuse to wait. If you ask me, President Obama is one of the greatest commander-in-chiefs to take office, and he is past due some credit and some respect. Here’s why:
He has drastically cut the unemployment rate. For those who have never been unemployed, consider yourself extremely blessed because it can be one of the most discouraging predicaments to be in. Unemployment has dropped from 10.1 percent in October 2009 to 5.1 percent by the spring of 2015. This translates to more than 12 million new jobs.
He was the first U.S. President ever to visit a federal prison, as his administration is making it a priority to target criminal justice reform. The United States has the largest prison population in the world, weighing in at 2.3 million men and women. Of those millions of men and women, 1 million are African American. Earlier this month, President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 drug offenders. According to CNN, he has commuted more sentences than any president since Lyndon B. Johnson. As President Obama put it, “I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”
The President has established a clemency initiative that allows commutation for men and women serving prison sentences for outdated laws. One common offense is marijuana possession. Too many of our people are serving major sentences–including life–for minor crimes, and President Obama has started working to make changes for a more fair and effective criminal justice system.
Walking into office, President Obama inherited the mess left over from the Bush administration. The country was in a recession, and we were at war with Iraq. President Obama ended the war, and troops have been steadily removed from Afghanistan. And I know you haven’t forgotten about Osama Bin Laden…
We haven’t had any successful attacks in the United States from international terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, aside from the Boston Marathon bombing (the Tsarnaevs were heavily influenced by the group). In fact, our international relations have improved vastly since President Obama took office. Who knew we would ever rebuild our relationship with Cuba?
Obamacare has severely divided parties, but the facts are available in plain sight. About 16.4 million Americans have insurance due to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That’s 16 million people who can now get care from a physician, pay reasonable prices for their medication, and have the surgery they may need to save their lives. Before, if an uninsured person fell ill and needed emergency room care, taxpayers would have to pay their medical bills. The Affordable Care Act gives people access to the healthcare we need, stabilizes Medicare for seniors, and saves taxpayers billions of dollars.
Gas prices have cut into the budget of every American citizen. “You got gas money?” at one point went from a running joke to a serious plea. Average gas prices a few years ago rose as high as $4.11 per gallon during the Bush administration. A lot of the increase in price was due to the country’s dependency on foreign oil. President Obama has cut that dependency and the U.S. now produces and exports a great deal of petroleum. Whether you want to admit it or not, gas prices are continuing to decrease, with the average for regular grade gas being $2.94 per gallon.
President Obama helped to revive the auto industry; froze White House salaries; bailed out the banks; helped families save their homes; improved the housing market; increased lending to small businesses; saved over 30,000 education jobs; banned “gifts” from lobbyists to the executive branch; reformed Wall Street; ordered execs who took bailout money to pay it back; extended benefits for same-sex couples, legalized marriage for same-sex couples; established a White House Council on Women and Girls; repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”; reestablished a partnership with NATO; released Bush torture memos; banned Bush torture policies; improved veterans’ services; increased student financial aid; reformed the student loan and loan forgiveness program; and oversaw expansion in K-12 schools nationwide. And the list goes on.
Yet in our community you will always hear “What has Obama done for Black people?”
He hasn’t been a perfect president by any means, and there is much to be done about police brutality and other major issues plaguing us. But every program, every initiative, and every piece of legislation the Black community can and has benefited from. Everything from unemployment and healthcare to appointing the most diverse cabinet of men and women of both African and Hispanic descent to make up his administration. But most importantly, President Obama has carried himself with the utmost dignity and respect in the midst of a most vile and egotistical Congress. Something we should all be proud of. If there is something that you want to see happen, don’t wait for it to trickle down from the federal level. Go out into your community and work for your community. And by all means, exercise your right to vote for better city and state level officials, because that’s where change begins.
Again, if you ask me, President Obama should be commended for his tenacity and dedication to serving the very people who disservice him. He is the prototype of what an American president should be. Thank you, sir. For everything.
President Obama paid a final visit to The Daily Show before Jon Stewart steps down on August 6. And during the visit, which took up the entirety of the 30-minute program, he touched on everything from his relationship with the media, to the nuclear deal with Iran, to the successes of the Affordable Care Act.
At a time when the news revolves around the latest offense caused by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the President talked about what he sees as the issues with the media and what his administration’s relationship with them was like.
“What I’m most concerned about is not that it’s unfair or too tough on government … but that it gets distracted to shiny objects and doesn’t always focus on the big tough choices and decisions,” he said. No mention specifically of any news outlet but he did say that he likes some more than others. Make of that what you will. Ahem.
He also noted that some of the problems with the relationship had to do with the old ways in which the White House press office operated, an issue that came up when he talked about the improvements in services to veterans, which are discussed in the extended clip above.
But it wasn’t all serious. He did propose an executive order to keep Jon Stewart on the show. And says after seven years on the job, he’s finally “figured this thing out.”
“Obviously we’ve been through a kinds of ups and downs,” the President said, by way of explaining how the hard work done at the beginning of his term is finally coming to fruition in a lot of areas, including with healthcare, “When the Supreme Court finally says definitively we can move forward with this, there was a lot of euphoria, but we’d already gotten 16 million people health insurance.”
He says there’s still a lot of work left to do in his final year, for instance in the area of climate change.
Click here for the full broadcast interview and for the other portion of the extended interview.
President Barack Obama is truly unlike any other president we have seen in the office.
This past Friday, President Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckey. CNN Reports,
The President’s speech will be remembered for a moment at the end when he launched into a solo of “Amazing Grace,” that at first stunned the mourners and then brought them to their feet as they joined him in song.
“As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind,” Obama said. “He’s given us the chance, where we’ve been lost, to find our best selves.”
The President’s remarks at times felt like a sermon, with organ chords backing him during some of the most impassioned passages. The mostly African-American crowd was, at the end of the eulogy, on its feet, clapping and cheering Obama as he named each victim of the church shooting and declaring each “had grace.”
Take a look at the President’s solo.
You would think that police officers are battling ISIS with their access to grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and camouflage uniforms. President Obama is cracking down on the militarization of America’s police force and yanking those bayonets right out of their hands, Quartz reports.
The White House announced that police access to certain military equipment will be banned. Public outrage took off when images revealed by news media showed local police forces confronting protesters in heavy military gear. Quartz points out that the lines between police and military operations were beginning to blur — especially in minority communities.
“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” the AP quotes Obama, nine months after the Ferguson, MO protests. “It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message,” he added.
On Monday, in Camden, NJ, Obama announced his move to demilitarize local police forces.
Under his order, tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, and large-caliber firearms and ammunition will no longer be provided to state and local police.
There is an exception, though. According to Quartz, “law enforcement agencies that meet certain standards for training—including policies in place for better relations with their communities—will be able to obtain certain controlled surplus items.”
(Media Matters notes the overstatement on Fox News. Obama is not “disarming” the police.)
Still, it’s a step in the right direction for critics who protested against police militarization, which rose into prominence last year with the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Acknowledging the outcry, Obama announced that he would order a review of the programs that provide the heavy military gear.
The review, published in December, found that five federal agencies spent $18 billion on military equipment, including 5,235 Humvees, 617 mine-resistant vehicles and 616 aircraft, according to AP.
The White House defended the expenses, arguing that the armory is useful in terrorism cases such as the Boston Marathon bombing.
Though POTUS is rescinding access to military gear, he’s pushing for police forces to wear body cameras to “increase accountability,” Quartz said.
This may be hard to believe, but President Obama only has $1,001 in his savings account, according to current financial records recently released.
Obama’s annual financial disclosure report reveals just one only savings accounts, a “JP Morgan Chase Private Client Asset Mgmt Savings Account.” And his balance is just $1,000.
But don’t go thinking the Obamas are poor. Actually the President and the First Lady have put most of their earnings toward their daughters’ education. They have saved between $200,000 and $400,000 for Sasha and Malia to go to college. Add to this the the First Couple has more than $1 million in Treasury bills.
In all the President Obama has an estimated net worth of nearly $7 million, reports AOL. This is an increase from the $1.3 million he had in 2007. In fact, it is a 438% increase in net worth.
The Obamas also have personal properties, which were worth around $1.7 million. In December 2000, they paid $885,000 in cash and secured a $1.95 million mortgage for another home. But some experts say this was a bad financial move.
“The Obamas are throwing away thousands of dollars each year on a high-rate 30 year mortgage loan that hasn’t been refinanced since 2005. The President and First Lady are paying 5.625 per cent interest on the loan for their Chicago home, and owe between $500,001 and $1,000,000 on the note,” reports The Daily Mail. “Assuming only a half-million dollar loan, the Obamas are paying $2,879 per month on their home. They could be paying $2,335.”
But as far as top-earning White House couples go, Bill Clinton is considered the wealthiest president. He and Hillary’s combined net worth reached around $55 million, reports 24/7 Wall Street. And when Bill left the White House, according to 1999/2000 records the couple had as much as $15,000 in savings.
President Barack Obama is looking to boost the literacy rate of low-income kids with a plan to offer free access to 10,000 e-books.
This is a welcome move, as research shows 80 percent of low-income children lag below their grade level in reading skills and lack books at home.
According to Ann O’Leary, vice president and director of the children and families program at Next Generation, by the time low-income children reach three years of age, they have amassed a vocabulary of about 500 words. Meanwhile children of the same age from more affluent households have learned more than twice as many words, with a vocabulary of about 1,100.
The White House will partner with publishers and libraries. There are $250 million in e-book commitments from publishers, including from the five major publishing houses: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc, Penguin Random House, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group Inc, and News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC, reports Reuters.
Also, the New York Public Library is creating an app to connect low-income kids with the books.
“If we’re serious about living up to what our country is about, then we have to consider what we can do to provide opportunities in every community, not just when they’re on the front page, but every day,” said Jeff Zients, Obama’s top economic adviser, in a briefing with reporters.
And since kids will need computers and devices to read these free e-books, the White House already has a plan in place to upgrade Internet services for schools and libraries, with private sector help from companies such as Apple, which pledged $100 million in devices to low-income schools.
Non-partisan Congressional Budget Office analysis shows President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal could shrink U.S. deficits by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, Reuters reports.
POTUS’ ambitious proposition targets military operations in Afghanistan for spending cuts. The government currently shells out a whopping $74 billion a year on foreign combat endeavors, according to Fiscal Times. Obama’s budget is seeking to slash that total down to $58 billion in 2016.
Spending cuts on military intervention would account for $532 billion in savings, the Fiscal Times adds.
Obama is also looking to levy higher taxes on the wealthy and eliminate tax loopholes, which would pull in an additional $526 billion in revenue.
According to the Fiscal Times, should our current spending and tax laws remain unchanged, the U.S. government’s fiscal deficits would total a whopping $7.2 trillion between 2016 and 2025. If the country adopted Obama’s budget proposal, on the other hand, that total would drop down to $6 trillion in the same period.
However, Obama’s budget proposal is most likely to be greeted with push back, especially since Republicans now have command over both houses of Congress. POTUS’ proposals are, as FiscalTimes reports, “ritually declared ‘dead on arrival’ by the president’s political opponents.”
“It’s fitting that President Obama released his budget on Groundhog Day because it’s a painful repeat of the same failed policies that he has presented to Congress for the past six years,” Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) said, according to Politico.
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) called the POTUS’ proposal “laughable.”
Casting aside Obama’s budget request, the Republican-dominated budget committees in the Senate and House will reveal their own fiscal propositions soon, which will supposedly knock out U.S. deficits within a decade. Expect deep slashes for government assistance programs.
So far, Republicans are uncompromising on defense spending and refuse to sign off on anything that does not increase military funding, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Although Congressional Republicans aren’t keen on cozying up to Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal, they just might have to surrender to a few of the proposition’s objectives:
“Both parties seem focused on passing some type of tax reform this year, and in order to do that Republicans will likely have to concede on at least some of the president’s wishes,” ValueWalk said.
President Obama’s budget proposes to assist middle-income families and “help America’s hard-working families get ahead in a time of relentless economic and technological change,” the White House claims. The right’s instantaneous flogging of Obama’s budget proves one thing: “They’re more interested in helping special interests than middle class families,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.
President Obama has announced a $100 million federal government grant program to improve training and hiring of high-tech workers, which is great news for individuals interested in the field. Tech employees can earn much more than the average American worker; according to the White House, high-tech jobs pay 50 percent more than average private-sector American jobs.
According to Obama, the U.S. sorely needs tech workers in order to keep up with the rest of the world. “If we’re not producing enough tech workers, over time that’s going to threaten our leadership in global innovation,” he said.
A new program just announced by President Obama will help get tens of millions of young girls in school globally. And First Lady Michelle Obama its hitting the road to promote it. First she’ll travel to Japan and Cambodia later this month.
Obama is pursuing his “Let Girls Learn” initiative because more than 60 million girls are being denied schooling for a variety of reasons.
“We’re making it clear to any country that’s our partner or wants to be our partner that they need to get serious about increasing the number of girls in school,” Obama said.
And according to Mrs. Obama, her office and the Peace Corps will work jointly to highlight community-based solutions.
The Peace Corps’s “Let Girls Learn” program will begin in Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda, reports The Huffington Post.
Mrs. Obama will travel alone to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, from March 18-20 and Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia from March 21-22.
Mrs. Obama said she wants the initiative to inspire girls in the United States.
“I want our young people to be awed by these girls, but more importantly I want them to be inspired and motivated by these girls,” she said.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 21, 2015
President Obama, who some had expected might deliver a State of the Union address befitting a lame duck, instead touted economic growth and pressed for more policies to help the middle class. Obama used the annual podium to talk about low gas prices (below $2 per gallon), job creation, more Americans getting healthcare, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drawing to a close and high graduation rates. He also talked about the future, a discussion that started a couple of weeks ago when he proposed free community college for those who can maintain the GPA, enhancements to cybersecurity, paid and sick leave for workers, more access to broadband internet and more tax breaks for the middle class. ICYMI, here’s the transcript of his speech. Overall, the theme was one of “middle class economics.”
He challenged the Congress to discuss policies with solutions and compromise in mind. And he hit on some controversial topics, from further opening relations with Cuba to tackling climate change.
But the topic of helping the middle class is where he spent a good chunk of time as opposed to benefits for poor Americans, which Republicans tend to frame as “entitlements” that the country can’t afford.
Still, in order to help the middle class, Obama suggested higher taxes for the rich, which Republicans have a problem with as well. And now they have big wins in the midterm elections to fall back on, saying the people have spoken and it’s their policies that they’ve selected.
“He has ignored the will of the people, instead choosing to offer up the same tired and failed policy proposals we’ve seen unsuccessfully implemented for the past six years,” The Wall Street Journal quotes Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
For the President, helping the middle class means enacting laws and benefits that help women, such as help paying for child care and equal pay. He also talked about raising the minimum wage and the struggle to live on $15,000 per year.
“If you truly believe you could work full-time & support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it.” —Obama pic.twitter.com/MsHkVdUnhM
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 21, 2015
The Daily Beast framed the proposals as a “dare”; that the American people will be looking for a piece of the prosperity that seems to be going almost exclusively to the one percent. And now that the economy is doing better people will start to feel like these are investments we can make. With an approval rating on the rise, the President can afford to apply some pressure.
So even faced with a majority Republican Congress, President Obama gave a confident SOTU. And then there was this epic shade.
OMG… for days. And then VP Joe Biden on backup with the mean mug remix. Also, this.
Obama wink.gif pic.twitter.com/VruDO3g7Vr
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) January 21, 2015
The environment. Unemployment. ISIL. Which moment has you talking this morning?