Barack Obama's Political Views
President Obama's Political Views
President Obama's personality and life history has received almost as much coverage from the media as his policy positions. I'm almost certain that more people would incorrectly identify him as having been born outside the U.S. than could correctly identify the major points of "Obamacare", the health care reform bill he signed in 2010, or his vision for reforming American immigration policy. This Hub is an attempt to provide an unbiased look at President Obama's stances on the key issues that shaped his presidency, including winding down the war in Afghanistan, the federal budget deficit, economic policy, health care, and social issues. President Obama's positions on these issues is still being debated in Washington and will be a topic of political conversation for a long time. Still yet to be determined: how will Obama's legacy be impacted by the administration of President Trump? And how do his views stack up to the 2020 Democratic Candidates for President?
Obama on the Issues
- Economy: President Obama most recently signed a tax relief program in December 2010 which extended unemployment benefits, continued the tax cuts implemented under President Bush, and removed the estate tax on amounts under $10 million. President Obama had repeatedly express a desire to extend tax cuts only to those making under $250,000 a year, but, in order to get the bill passed, conservative Democrats and Republicans demanded that tax cuts for wealthy Americans be included as part of the bill. Previously, President Obama helped secure the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 (commonly known as the Stimulus Bill) to help provide funding for infrastructure projects and boost job creation across the country. Economists disagree on the level of help the bill has provided, though most believe it helped create jobs and limited the effects of the recession.
- Budget Deficits: President Obama has repeatedly stressed the importance of reducing the federal budget deficit, while also urging government support for impoverished Americans, education, and infrastructure investment. During his State of the Union Address in 2011, President Obama called for a two year freeze on pay for federal workers and major cuts to federal discretionary spending, stating "This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we've frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I've proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without." Most economists agree that cuts alone will not be enough to balance the budget going forward, and that, in the long term, Congress and the White House will have to increase taxes and control health care costs (among other things) in order to balance the budget. President Obama attempted to reach a grand bargain with House Speaker in John Boehner in 2011 that would help reduce the deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes, however, the bill was ultimately scuttled by a refusal of the Republican controlled Congress to allow any tax increases as part of the deal.
- Health Care: In 2009, President Obama signed a bill that began the process of creating a national (though not government run) health care system that allows uninsured Americans to buy into already existing plans through a series of subsidies and tax incentives. The bill also prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and allows children to stay on their parents health insurance till age 26, among other provisions. Economists are still arguing over the ultimate cost of the Bill, with some saying it will boost the federal deficit and does almost nothing to control costs. However, the independent Congressional Budget Office did issue a report concluding that the bill would reduce costs over a 10 year period as compared with continuing the current system of coverage. Although the bill, labeled "Obamacare" by conservative critics, received a lot of attention from Republicans as being an unconstitutional expansion of government power, it was upheld by the Supreme Court in a ruling in June 2012.
- Foreign Policy: In 2011, President Obama ordered an assault by Navy Seals that ultimately resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, bringing to justice the man who planned and organized the attacks of September 11th, 2001. In Iraq, President Obama fulfilled his promise to withdraw troops, as almost all American forces withdrew from the country by December 15, 2011. In Afghanistan, the President pursued committed additional funds and resources through a surge strategy intended to stabilize the country's weak government and root out insurgents hiding near the Pakistani/Afghani frontier in 2009-2010. Currently, his administration is in the midst of planning a withdrawal and transfer of power to Afghani military forces, with the U.S. forces targeted to move to a mostly advisory role by early 2014.
- Abortion: President Obama is a strong supporter of women's rights. He received a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Council (a leading anti-abortion group), which means he is considered to be very supportive of a women's right to choose by conservative groups. Voted against banning partial birth abortion as a legislator in Illinois. President Obama did issue a presidential order banning the use of federal funds for abortions as part of the Health Care Bill.
- Gay Rights: On May 9th, 2012, President Obama expressed strong support for gay marriage during an interview with ABC News, explaining that "it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." This announcement came after a series of measures by the President in support of gay rights, including the issuing of an executive order to overturn the "don't ask don't tell" policy which allowed the military to kick out openly gay soldiers. President Obama also voted against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage while serving as a Senator.
- Tax Issues: President Obama has called for the so-called "Buffett Rule", which would impose a 30% tax rate on all individuals making over one million dollar a year. The tax was named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who noted that under the current tax code, he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary, as most of his income was from investments that were taxed at 15% as opposed to the secretary's salary that was taxed at a higher rate. As a Senator Obama consistently voted against abolishing or raising the limits on the so-called "death tax" (which currently only applies to individuals passing on more than two million dollars worth of property to their children). Obama has received a 100% rating from Citizens for Tax Justice, a group devoted to "progressive taxes."
- Immigration: In June 2012, President Obama issued an executive order for his administration not to pursue deportations and/or legal action against illegal immigrants who had been brought to the country as children and were not in violation of other laws or regulations. As a Senator, Obama voted yes on the comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007, which was supported by President Bush and most Democrats in Congress, but faced major opposition from most Congressional Republicans.. As a Senator, President Obama was rated 8% by the United States Border Control lobbying group, indicating a strong desire for immigration reform and relatively open borders.
- Gun Control: During his campaign, Obama expressed supports for stricter gun control, a ban on semi-automatic weapons, and stricter accountability for gun show dealers.
All positions cited come from www.ontheissues.org