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Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 YEAR-END MUSINGS:

It has indeed been a very full year. As I think about all that has transpired, I am overwhelmed by the speed at which political events seemingly turned on a dime. After the disastrous Bush economic policies steered the country very nearly into another Great Depression, the richest 1% of the country got an extension of their Bush-era tax cuts. This happened even after the President who campaigned all through 2007 and 2008 on a platform of promising to end those cuts was elected two years before. In January, 2009, it looked like the Republican Party was on the way out. It had seemingly lost all relevance and was only representative of the rich, some business owners, and that was that. But lo and behold, they resurrected themselves, at least temporarily, by manufacturing the astroturf Tea Party. By allying themselves with libertarians and other ultra-conservative fringe groups, they hijacked the tax issue by lying and scaring the public into thinking that EVERYBODY'S taxes would be raised if the top-tiered's taxes were raised. Consequently, they won back the House of Representatives and came within a whisker of taking the Senate as well. For a time, it looked like the President's agenda was dead. But as I look over this past year, in spite of those events, I realize that the 111th Congress was incredibly effective and passed a gigantic amount of far-reaching legislation. In spite of constant Republican Senate obstruction, it, with varying degrees of Presidential help, enacted the most legislation in many, many decades. Let's look at some of what has been accomplished:


Health Care Reform

I was not initially too happy with the failure of the President to push for and get a single-payer option for health care. And, while not completely universal in coverage, the plan he passed DOES extend coverage to 32 million more Americans while actually REDUCING the deficit by $1.3 billion over the next 20 years. It also makes it illegal for the health insurance industry to discriminate against people by denying them coverage. That in and of itself is a big accomplishment. It makes health care coverage a basic right for all Americans. The plan is still flawed in many other respects, but it is a starting point that can and will eventually be improved upon.

Successful Economic Stimulus

When Barack Obama began his Presidency, our economy was heading straight down the tubes due to the distrous policies of George W. Bush. The previous summer gasoline rose to over $4.00 per gallon due to reckless speculation. Obama signed the stimulus into law and it has helped to stem the job losses. and most economists say that over one million jobs have been either saved or added due to it.

The Repeal of DADT

I am still amazed at this. It appeared that the utterly ridiculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the military was dead in the water. But somehow, at the very end of this year's session, Congress overwhelmingly repealed this discriminatory policy and the President signed its repeal into law.


Supreme Court Vacancies filled

In spite of token Republican opposition, two new Supreme Court Justices were confirmed by the Senate. One became the very first Hispanic on the court, and both were women.

Credit Card Reform

The credit card reform bill that Obama signed in May of 2009 has helped to provide new protections for customers. It prevents credit card companies from raising interest rates on existing balances and restricts how much credit card companies can charge in penalty fees.

More Successful in Anti-Terrorism Than Bush

Early in the year, Liz Cheney and her father DICK both tag-teamed on President Obama, saying that our anti-terrorism efforts were weak and uncoordinated and put the country in danger. This turned out to be a bunch of deliberate Republican anti-Obama poppycock, as the President launched more attacks on terrorists in his first two years than did Bush in the last four years of his Presidency combined, with a much higher net yield, too.

START Treaty ratified

Adter a load of needless Republican grandstanding at the very end of the congressional term, the START Treaty with Russia was ratified by the Senate. It will provide for much-needed supervision over the status of Russia's nuclear arsenal.

Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Congress overturned a Supreme Court decision which had limited a female's right to sue over unfair pay discrimination. This should go a long way toward balancing out the difference in male vs. female pay rates, and its enactment was way overdue.

Wall Street reform

Just as in the case of health care, this bill was watered down and goes nowhere near far enough in actually regulating sordid Wall Street practices, but it is a starting point for future congresses to build on.

Student Loan Reform

Instead of private banks issuing loans guaranteed by the government, the government itself will now become the originator of the loan. It will essentially eliminate the banks as a middleman and allow students a more streamlined and easier process for getting loans.

Health Benefits for 9/11 responders

Congress also passed a much-needed law giving aid to the courageous 9/11 responders, many of whom had been denied health care aid from their private insurers.




As I look at all these accomplishments, I am grateful for them. My only bone of contention is that many have not gone far enough. But, as the Tea Party faction will soon learn starting January 3, 2011, politics is the art of compromise and change. I will meantime continue to press for additions and changes to what has been passed. But all in all, this was a pretty darn effective Congress and first two years of an administration, and I am anxious for more, especially in the area of the Dream Act and overall immigration reform. When we will get these things is anybody's guess. My own belief is that we'll see movement after the congressional and presidential elections in 2012, but we shall see. In the interim, it will be very interesting to see how the differences between the current Republican establishment and the newly-elected Tea Party faction will turn out...

16 comments:

Infidel753 said...

An impressive list, and many people clearly need the reminder. I wish the party itself were more effective at publicizing its accomplishments. Understatement doesn't go far in politics.

Jack Jodell said...

Infidel753,
THAT'S for sure!

TRUTH 101 said...

Infidel makes a good point about the party better publisizing it's accomplishments.

That's the problem though. The Democratic Party is fractured to beat all hell.


I'm running out of things to say and I was thinking of this subject as my last post before going on hiatus.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Jack, nice job you've done summing up the year. I hope you had a great New Year's and here's to a better 2011. Say, can you email me at:
marc.mcdonald (at) gmail.com
I wanted to touch base with you on a couple of issues.

kPg said...

This is a very entertaining year-end post! I hope 2010 was a blast for you. Well, for me, it wasn't that fun, but I learned a lot. I also have a year-ender, by the way. I wrote about The Sims 2 house designs, some of my personal drama, and my own top 5 lessons I learned in 2010. Care to read 'em? Just follow the links. Thanks! =)

Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello Jack
I wanted to pass on an “Apologist Teabagger’s” statement I heard yesterday in Seaford, DE with reference to Christine O’Donnell’s abuse of her campaign funds breaking Federal Election Laws.

I quote, “Oh yea! Like she’s the only one who has spent campaign funds for personal use!!! This is just politically motivated….”

Yes as if this was a justification excusing and exonerating O’Donnell’s breaking Federal Laws was because others before have done it also.

Well Teabaggers, there were plenty of criminals who robbed banks before Bonnie and Clyde. I can think of Frank and Jessie James, Al Capone, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Willie Sutton (the original “Slick Willie) just to name a few…..but do you really think that these are good, and reasonable arguments to justify Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow robbing banks?

So how does others abusing campaign funds become a good reasonable argument to justify O’Donnell blatant misuse of campaign money?

This is the Teabagger’s mindset…..what a bunch a dumb asses.

Jack Jodell said...

Truth101,
Remember, though, that it was many of the worthless Blue Dog Dems who either voluntarily retired or were forced out. We'll see what happens now that we have a more "true" composition to the party. As far as running out of things to say, just wait until Boehner and Co. start trying to implement THEIR flawed agenda...I have a feeling you'll soon be coming back stronger than ever (at least I hope so)!
---------------
Marc,
A happier and better 2011 to you, too! I'll email you shortly.
---------------
kPg,
Thanks for stopping by, and I'll stop by and comment on your blog, too. Happy New Year!

Jack Jodell said...

Engineer of Knowledge,
Let's keep bashing those revisionist teabagger types all year, shall we? What a bunch of misled, misguided fools!

tim said...

I thought this was the year of the sell out..
Anyway I just dropped by to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year.
Tim and Melissa

Jack Jodell said...

tim and melissa,
Like I said, we didn't get all of what we wanted, but 15% of something is better than 100% of nothing.We've just got to keep pressing for more. Thanks for stopping by, and happy new year to you, too. Next year will be better!

mud_rake said...

I suspect that 2011 will be mostly a crap shoot during which each side watches the other to see how far they will go.

Of course, I have little hope that any of it will be aimed at the betterment of The People.

Jack Jodell said...

mud_rake,
You could very well be right and the whole year could end up being just a meaningless pissing contest.But I'm hoping Obama and the Dems will hold the GOP's feet to the fire and womp on them BIG TIME if these extended tax cuts for the rich produce no jobs, only a few, or only shit jobs, like we already know they will!

tnlib said...

Great review, but I'm so damn pissed I'm going to switch to the GOP. I didn't get what I wanted when I wanted it. And baby, I want it ALL NOW, damnit. I'm sure the Republicans will do a lot more for the little man, or woman as the case may be, and give it all to little ole me right now. Wah, wah, wah. Like hell.

Jack Jodell said...

tnlib,
I think you've captured the essence of the Republican mindset perfectly! What a pack of spoiled and self-centered crybabies!

tnlib said...

I guess my weak little try at satire flopped here. I was trying to sound like a dissastisfied-about-everything-dooms-daying-he's-a-one-term-president leftie. Whew. And then sarcastically implying how much better "I'd" be by switching to the GOP.

Jack Jodell said...

tnlib,
Now we BOTH know there's no way you'd be better off joining the GOP (unless you were already wealthy, paranoid, religious right, or mean-spirited). And we know you're not! :-).
Love ya!
J.