Year in Review: President Obama’s Top Areas for Improvement
by Anthony Jerrod
In Part 1 of this series, President Obama’s Top 12 accomplishments in 2010 were covered. Although not an all-inclusive list, it did represent some of his best legislative successes for the year. As with any performance review, there is always room for continuous improvement- exclusive of all of the great things that one has accomplished.
From a nonpartisan and unbiased perspective, President Obama has certainly done an extraordinary job in the first two years of his presidency despite the nasty political rancor and rhetoric. Notwithstanding, there are areas where President Obama and his staff must focus time, energy and their intellect in creating sound public policies that will help a multitude of individuals across the board, especially the “least of these.” To some folks who have elevated him to a divine status, this may come as a surprise that President Obama needs to improve at all. After all, according to their beliefs, he is messianic in nature and has done a perfect job. But, the humble truth is that President Obama is not divine and needs accountability to help perform the enormous tasks at hand.
Some commentators believe that President Obama has already received enough criticism and does not need additional assessments. To be sure, there are individuals in both parties who have hurled unwarranted criticism and extremely negative statements at the President and his family. Still, should people refrain from constructive criticism that is predicated on objective, factual and nonpartisan evidence relative to his policies and performance? Absolutely not! This type of constructive criticism is necessary and should not be judgmental in nature. Effective engagement in politics requires the truth about all aspects of public policies and an honest assessment of a president’s accomplishments and weaknesses.
There are some clear areas where he must work hard, especially as he looks to win a second term in 2012. To be sure, progress on some of these issues has been stalled because of opposition from Congress. Although not all-inclusive list, the following do represent eleven major areas where President Obama will have to work with Congress to ensure that effective and sound public policies are put in place or improved:
1. Fiscal Responsibility. Obviously, the deficit will be one of the primary topics that President Obama’s presidential contender will focus on during the impending 2012 presidential campaign. To be sure, President Obama came into office with a large deficit and monolithic challenges that required significant spending to prevent the world economy from a cataclysmic crash. But, President Obama has to continue to strive to reduce the current federal deficit of $1.294 trillion. If not, the massive debt could likely cause a rise in interest rates and has the potential to ignite inflation.
2. Education Reform. Indeed, President Obama has signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will ensure $5 billion for early learning programs, $77 billion for reforms to strengthen elementary and secondary education, $5 billion in competitive funds to spur innovation and over $30 billion to address college affordability. Despite the massive funding, President Obama and his staff have not addressed the necessary reform of our nation’s education system. It is relatively safe to state that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has created a paradigm of standardized test taking preparation in lieu of critical thinking and ensuring children are prepared for college and the workplace. Year-long schools, as President Obama has often discussed, is a fairly good idea; but, only in the context of the NCLB Act being significantly amended or repealed.
3. Afghanistan. A plethora of commentators still question whether it was prudent for our country to go to war in Afghanistan. To be sure, uprooting terrorists’ safe havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan is absolutely necessary for world security. Unfortunately, when looking at the number of lives lost, lack of good governance in Afghanistan and no guarantees whether we leave in 2011 or 2014 that Taliban and al Qaeda operatives won’t return to Afghanistan, it has become clear that more effective military strategies will be needed as soon as possible.