President Barack Hussein Obama took office facing two potentially insurmountable problems:
- An economy accelerating into a major Depression
- A GOP who had already publicly proclaimed their sole purpose in life was to destroy President Obama and oppose every one of his initiative.
That was the environment in which he would try to execute his Hope and Change campaign promise. Below are what those policies he was able to accomplish against all odds. The depth and breadth of what he left as his legacy, one his successor promises to dismantle, is nothing short of astounding.
He and his family held the office with a unique style and grace America has never seen in modern times. There was no personal scandals, only a few real political ones in his administration and a lot of made up ones by the GOP. He was not able to unite America as he had hoped, in fact, because of the rise in power of conservatives, it got worse. Nevertheless, President Obama did move the country forward, coming closer to the ideals laid out in the Preamble to the Constitution.
America has never gotten beyond its racist past and it is only the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act that forced many people to do the moral thing. There effect was to take the overt racism of the 1950s and bury it. With the election of our first black President, our racist past began to reemerge; and for eight years it gained strength. Now the conservatives (not moderate or liberal GOP) will control Congress, the presidency, and the Judiciary (unless Sen. Schumer makes good on his promise to let only moderate judges be appointed to the Supreme Court) which makes the outlook for civil rights dim.
President Obama by the Numbers
President Obama by the Numbers
THE ABOVE SET OF CHARTS ARE FROM http://hubpages.com/politics/An-Anthology-of-Donald-J-Trumps-Presidency where I begin tracking Donald Trump's accomplishiments. It dawned on me these would make a great summary of President Obama's obviously successful 8 years. Following is an explanation of each chart.
GDP (000 2009$) -
Once the Great 2008 Recession passed in 2010, GDP under President Obama quickly improved, passing President Bush's record by Q4 2010. It has continued to grow ever since. President Obama ended the year (3Q 2016) with a very strong 3.5% annualized growth. (Over all, Obama achieved 2% annual growth, not bad given the GOP 8 year effort to destroy his presidency.)
EMPLOYMENT NUMBERS (000) -
This confusing chart shows each part of the employment picture (except the unemployment rate which is in the next chart).
- Size of the Civilian Labor Force
- Number of people with Jobs
- Number of Full-Time Employees
- Number of Not in Labor Force (retired persons, students, those taking care of children or other family members, and others who are neither working nor seeking work)
- Number of Part-Time Employees
- Number who searched for work but not counted in Unemployment numbers and are not Discouraged
- Number who want to work but stopped looking (Discouraged)
Depending on what side of the aisle you are on, you either believe the Unemployment Rate for what it is, a measure of change, or think it doesn't represent reality. Arrayed for your inspection are the different ways the Bureau of Labor slices and dices its numbers.
Notice that throughout President Obama's term, The Employment Level and Full-Time Employees is increasing faster than the Total Labor Force. That means the rate of employment in full-time jobs is increasing.
Notice also that Part-Time employment is flat, which means the PT rate is falling. So are the Marginally Attached (willing to work and searched sometime in the last year, but not in the last four weeks) and the subset of those who are discouraged (willing to work but stopped looking) have fallen dramatically.
Finally, the Not in Labor Force, figure is deceiving. Read the definition and you can surmise the reason for its hefty increase is the baby-boomers retiring.
In all cases where we are considering people who want to work, things have steadily improved throughout the Obama administration.
Unemployment and Participation Rates -
The Unemployment Rate is the one published by the Labor Department and has been trending lower over the last 6.5 years. The Participation Rate, a figure wrongly used to deprecate President Obama because it kept falling. In fact, it only fell throughout the Bush administrations and the aftermath of the Great 2008 Recession, Once people understood the economy was going to continue to recover, the beginning of 2015, the rate stopped decreasing and finally began a journey upward.
Uninsured Rate -
President Obama's major promise to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance from its high of 40 million folks. It is now down to about 20 million.
DOW Jones Average -
An often leading indicator of where the economy is going is the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It was decimated during the Great 2008 Recession. Soon after the announcement of President Obama's Stimulus Program it reversed course and hasn't stopped growing - about 1560 points per year. It stopped growing with the on-set of the Presidential election, began declining when Donald Trump became the GOP nominee and then took off when he won.
Manufacturing Jobs -
One of President-elect Donald Trump's major themes, the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs; a decline he attributed to President Obama. The facts are different, as you see. The decline was entirely withing the Bush Presidency and, as so many other bad things, in the aftermath of the Great 2008 Recession. The truth is, manufacturing jobs increased throughout the Obama administration.
To Paraphrase PBO (with enhancements) - The Right keeps referring to the "Good Old Days" prior to America electing Barack Obama as President; these are the days to which his (and Hillary/Sanders/O'Malley) opponents want to take America back to. When Conservatives turned over the reins to PBO, 1) America was in the process of diving into the worst economic disaster since 1929; 2) bin Laden was still threatening America; 3) 300,000 people were losing their jobs each month; 4) unemployment was soaring; 5) 40 million people have no insurance; 6) people with insurance would have it cancelled at the drop of a hat; 7) people with preexisting conditions couldn't get insurance; gays were banned from the military and from getting married; 8) Bush signed a status of forces agreement with Iraq that required our troops to leave shortly after PBO took office leaving room for ISIS to grow; 9) skyrocketing gas prices, and 10) many more pieces of good news.
This is the world that the Right says President Obama screwed up and so desperately want to return to.
Most Effectual Accomplish in Each of President Obama's Eight Years As the First Black President of the United States
WITHIN THE BODY OF THIS HUB ARE SEVERAL VENUES FOR ENUMERATING what this President has done for America. This version I put at the top of this Hub because the list below represents, in my opinion, his most important contribution in each year of his Presidency.
The Stimulus and associated use of TARP funds. There is now, after much study and soul-searching, virtually every economist in the world agrees that without President Obama's quick and decisive action (with much of the Western world following his lead), the world, not just the United States would have sunk in an historically devastating depression.
Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Since FDR, presidents, everyone, save for George W. Bush, attempted to pass some sort of universal insurance. All but President Clinton and President Obama didn't try. It was FDR's hope that a comprehensive social safety-net for the American people so that never again will they experience the horrors of the Great Depression of 1929. He knew the political will was not there to begin a Health Security Program and had to settle for Social Security Insurance, Unemployment.Insurance, Workman's Comp Insurance, Minimum Wage, and the 40-Hour Workweek. About 40 years later, President Johnson added Medicaid and Medicare Insurance. Then, after almost 40 more years President Obama signed Obamacare into law. Conservatives violently opposed each of these advancement in the human condition.
Repeal of sexual orientation-based discrimination in the military or "the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell" from the Clinton era in his attempt to reduce discrimination. Discrimination in America seems to be its national past-time; from the day we became a Nation to ... today. It has been a slow, painful, deadly path, opposed by Conservatives every step of the way, to reach the degree of universal liberty we have today.
Forced the GOP to compromise on the Bush Tax Cuts making the cuts for the middle class permanent and raising the rates on the wealthy plus a host of other benefits for the poor and middle class.
With no help from fellow Congressional Democrats and the opposition from Conservatives who vowed, regardless of the pain it causes America, to stop every initiative, managed to maneuver Vladimir Putin into supporting a successful plan to take chemicals away from Syrian President Assad.
Finally began the process of normalizing relations with Cuba, ending a pointless 40 years of American isolation from Cuba (the rest of the world had already normalized relations like mature countries); of course he had to use Executive Order to accomplish this breakthrough. Conservatives continue to oppose this move.
Negotiated the Iranian Nuclear Agreement that reversed Iran's attempts to acquire nuclear weapons; opposed by ... Conservatives, of course. In January 2016, the Iranians met the terms of the agreement in dismantling their nuclear weapons capability.
Convinced China to join with the United States (and hundreds of other nations) in agreeing to accept the Paris Accord to limit greenhouse gases enough to stop climate change from going over a threshold, which if surpassed, would lead to irreversible temperature increases and world-wide disaster.
President Obama Fulfills Republican Economic Promises from 2012!
THIS IS IRONY IN ITS FULL GLORY! DURING THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL campaign, Gov. Mitt Romney, other presidential hopefuls, and the GOP platform made several promises about how they would grow the economy if they were elected. (Keep in mind the backdrop of the following is that the GOP promised before Obama took office in 2008 not to let him even one of his economic, foreign policy, and domestic goals, regardless of the damage that causes America in the process; they have tried VERY HARD to try to keep their word.)
- Mitt Romney pledged to bring unemployment down to 6% by the end of 2016. - President Obama brought unemployment DOWN to 5% and less by the end of 2015, a FULL YEAR earlier.
- Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich promised gas prices below $2.50 a gallon and the GOP platform called for more domestic oil production. - Under President Obama's watch in the next four years, oil production SURGED and gas prices fell BELOW $1.99 for a brief period between Jan and Mar 2016, and gas prices are now only at $2.20 per gallon and falling again.
- Paul Ryan said the he and Mitt Romney will "protect and strengthen Medicare so that the promises that were made that people organize their retirements around, like my mom, will be promises that are kept.” - In Fact, largely due to President Obama's Affordable Care Act Medicare has significantly improved the program’s financial outlook; for example Medicare’s Hospital Insurance trust fund’s solvency has been extended by 13 years.
- In 2011, Tim Pawlenty said about economic growth "“Well, if China can have 5 percent growth, and India can have 5 percent growth, and Brazil can have 5 percent growth, the United States of America can have 5 percent growth” - While long-term growth at 3.5% or more almost always leads to economic turmoil and often recessions (which is what China is now facing), short-term growth of 5% is generally a very good thing. With that in mind, note that in the 3rd Quarter, 2014, the economy under President Obama did reach 5%. Obama's long-term growth is a much more sustainable 2.5%.
- From a 2010 pledge, the GOP said "“We will curb Washington’s spending habits and promote job creation, bring down the deficit, and build long-term fiscal stability.” - In spite of several deficit busting, job killing proposals from the Republican controlled House, President Obama managed to 1) steadily decrease the deficit after pulling America out of a near depression and 2) add over 12 million jobs to the economy, more that what was lost under the GOP-inspired Great Recession of 2008.
Impact of Conservative PBO Propaganda
THIS CNN/ORC INSTANT POLL CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES the effect of a sustained propaganda program by the GOP. President Obama's job approval ratings have been in the tank for much of his presidency. YET, like with the Obamacare, which has had a similar fate, when you look at the details it is clear his only detractors are the 30% or so on far-Right.
With the two exceptions of gun policy and immigration, for each of the major categories the poll surveyed as to whether PBO achieved (not if you like or dislike) his goals, it is a resounding YES. The same is true for ALL of the policy areas measured as to whether you APPROVE of the direction President Obama is taking the country!!
SUMMARY OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- How much more wrong can Conservatives get? Obamacare cost plummeting (CBO), not skyrocketing; uninsured rate plummeting, not remaining steady as predicted by Cs; premium cost growth below historic levels, not skyrocketing; more competition between providers, not less; the list goes on, no wonder Republican candidates stopped talking about it.
- Launched a budding, profitable clean-energy revolution
- Cut taxes on poor and middle income taxpayers while raising them on the rich
- Cut healthcare costs
- Instituted a program that will allow almost all Americans access to health insurance
- Cut the deficit in half
- Allowed gays to serve openly in the military
- Worked toward marriage equality in most States
- Began implementation, by Executive Order, those portions of the Senate bi-partisan immigration plan (successfully blocked by House Conservatives) which the law allows
- Historic NEGOTIATED deal to stop Iran's Nuclear Program signed
- As a result, opened up fruitful dialog with an ages old enemy and got our IRANINAN hostages returned in exchange for a few minor criminals
- Negotiated return of 4 American hostages held by Iran - 1/16/16
- Vetoed the Conservative repeal of ACA - 1/8/16
- Of the 13 modern presidents scored, PBO ranks in middle 68% while Presidents Carter (worst) and W. Bush rank in bottom 16%. Presidents Johnson (best), Roosevelt, and Eisenhower rank in top 16% - 12/21/15
- PBO has scored another great success for his administration - an agreed upon climate change protocol that is enforceable among almost 200 nations. - 12/12/15
- Draft climate change framework between the world's nations who know a climate change disaster is going to happen unless they do something was posted today. This has been one of PBO's biggest policy goals; one the lonely Right thinks is vapor and fixing it will do even greater harm. - 12/5/15
- Added another 212,000 jobs and unemployment stayed at 5%. For the president who can't add jobs, where did the 12 million since the recession come from? - 12/4/15
- Completed the Trans-Pacific Free-Trade agreement - 10/5/15
- Establish paid sick leave requirement for federal contractors - 9/7/15
- Unemployment fell to 5.1% after adding a 173,000 more jobs in August. This brings the total jobs gained since the Great Recession of 2008 at the end of President Bush's term to about 9 million with 18 months to go or ~1.4 million/yr. Compare that to Carter (~2.3 million/yr); Reagan (~0.9 million/yr); H. W. Bush (~0.3 million/yr); Clinton (~2.6 million/yr); W. Bush (~ -0.03 million/yr) - 9/4/15
- President Obama now has enough Democratic support in the Senate to prevent an override of his veto, should the Republicans make good on their promise to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal. He needs four more to prevent the Rs from even passing such a measure. - 9/3/15
- According to the IAEA, Iran is still living up to nuclear deal made with PBO in November 2013 (see way down below) - 6/20/15
- JUST IN - Contrary to popular propaganda, President Obama's helped the economy recover from the Great 2008 Recession 1.5 years sooner (based on GDP per capita) than similar historic recessions.- 4/30/15
- President Obama finally ended 4 decades of stupid diplomacy by, through executive action of course, opening diplomatic relations again with Cuba - Dec 2014
- Obama quickly retaliates to North Korean cyber attack and condemns Sony and theater chains cowardly response to it - 12/19 - 12/31/14
- Factory output exceeds pre-recession peak - 12/15/14
- Obama pulls off the unthinkable, getting a coalition of Arab states to fight against follow Sunnis. - 9/23/14
- Corporations earn record profits under President Obama - 9/20/14
- Obama Does It Right with ISIS - 9/14/14
- Obama's Secret Foreign Policy Successes - 8/7/14
- Obama's Job Approval Rating Is Going Up, in spite of all of the news - 6/6/14 (OK, they're going down again 7/15/14)
- Energy Program Achievements - 5/5/2014
- Report on Obamacare - 4/28/2014
- Report on Deficit
- Report on the 2013 Jobs numbers
- Analysis of the survey results
- Updated annual statistics
- Obama, and other world leaders, secured an agreement with Iran to end their non-peaceful nuclear program - 23 Nov 13
- Obama stands his ground against inappropriate legislative tactics - 18 Oct 13
- Obama talks to Iranian President after being snubbed - 28 Sep 13
- Obama forces action on Syrian Chemical Warfare - 27 Sep 13
- Snapshots in Time - 2 Aug 13
- Obamameter - 25 Jul 13
- Obamacare - 20 Jul 13
POLITIFACT'S OBAMAMETER http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/
Promises Kept if Full
Promises Kept in Part (Compromise)
In The Works
Not Yet Rated
Total Promises Under Consideration
SNAPSHOTS IN TIME
JULY 27, 2012: CNN MONEY POSTED a series of snapshot charts comparing how things were when President Obama took office and today. While I can't present the charts themselves, I can present the begining and ending positions and speak to each a little.
|ECONOMIC INDICATOR||BEGINNING 2009||BEGINNING AND MIDTERM||CURRENT|
Economic Growth Rate
1st Qrt 2009: - negative 5.9%
Growth: ~ 1.7%/yr through Dec 2011
Growth: ~ 2%/yr through Sep 2016
Jobs Lost 1st Qtr 2009: 2.3 million (total lost during Bush - 4.4 million)
Jobs lost the rest of 2009: 2.6 million
Jobs gained since 2010: 13.1 million through Nov 2016
End of Jan 2009: 7.9
End of Mar 2009: 8.7%
End of Nov 2016: 4.6%
National Median Home Price
Jan 2006: $244,900
1st Qtr 2009: $205,100
Oct 2016: $304,500
Jan 2009: 66,777
Peak Sep 2010: 100,000
Nov 2015: ~ 33,000
Jan 2009: 0%
Deflation from Mar - Oct 2009
Apr 2014: 2% (high-3.9% Sep 2011)
Jun 2008: $4.09/gal
Jan 2009: $3.50/gal
Dec 21, 2013: 3.67/gal
Dow Jones Stock Average
Mar 9, 2009: 6547
Jul 27, 2012: 13,075
Mar 26, 2014: 16,269
Interest Rates - 10 Year Treasury Yield
Jan 2009: 4.46%
Jul 2012: 1.49%
May 2014: 2.56%
Industrial Production Index
Jan 2009: 87.4
Mar 2009: 83
Feb 2014: 101.6
Declined about 0.75% per Qtr in 1st Qtr and 2nd Qtr 2009
Increased about 0.5% per Qtr from 1st Qtr 2010 thru 4th Qtr 2010.
From 2011 - Sep 2013: Increased about 0.5% per Qtr
Public Debt as a % of GDP
2009: 63% of GDP
2014: 77% of GDP
2014: 62.5% of GDP
Government Spending as a % of GDP
2009: 42.8% of GDP
2011: 40.5% of GDP
2013: 36% of GDP
Deficit as a % if GDP
2009: 10.1% of GDP
2011: 8.7% of GDP
2013: 4.1% of GDP!
Job Approval Rating Improving
6/6/2014: I have been watching Obama's various approval ratings for quite awhile now and was surprised, given the massive propaganda campaign against him, to see his Overall Job Approval rating improving. The polls I just looked at go back to the beginning of March 2014; while there have been a couple of ties, Obama didn't didn't get a positive approval rating until April 3 and 9, when he got a +1; the next positive was May 6, a +2. After that he has had four more, the last on on June 6 at +4. Overall, the ratings ranges from a +4 to a -18. Now what is interesting is which polls he has gotten positive ratings in.
When polls are taken, different demographics are used. The most general is "All" or "A", which is just a random sampling from the total population. The next restrictive is "Registered Voters" or "RV" followed by "Likely Voters" or "LV". It is the LV which are most important because those are the people most likely to change the politics of America. Of the 102 polls I just looked at, 33 are from the demographic of Likely Voters. Every one of the positive Obama approval ratings and all but one of the ties were from this demographic. Using a weighted average of the last 13 polls, Obama's Job Approval rating is -4, with a confidence level of +-1. Back up just 10 days, and it drops to -6 with the same confidence level.
If this trend improves, it is very good news for the Democrats.
IS THAT A PICTURE OF A FAILING PRESIDENCY?
PERSONALLY, I DON'T THINK SO! But, before I get into that, let me state four things:
- Because President Obama's recovery program could not begin until March 2009, its results would not be felt until at least Apr 2009, if not much later.
- As a consequence, all data for the first three months (1st Qtr) of 2009 and prior belong to President Bush and the conservative economic program
- Even though the Democrats held a majority in Congress the last two years of President Bush's term, they could not control what bills were placed in front of him to be signed into law; they only had control over what would not. Conservatives, because of their abuse of the filibuster in the Senate, held an equal power of denial as the Democrats, just as they do today.
- As a consequence, in 2007 and 2008, the only legislation which became law was legislation to which both Parties and the President agreed.
DIRECT MILITARY LEADERS TO END THE WAR IN IRAQ
JANUARY 21, 2009: PRESIDENT OBAMA kept his promise to end the war in Iraq. After a meeting on his first day in office with his cabinet and military commanders, President Obama reported, "The meeting was productive and I very much appreciated receiving assessments from these experienced and dedicated individuals. During the discussion, I asked the military leadership to engage in additional planning necessary to execute a responsible military draw-down from Iraq."
END TORTURE AND EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION AS A MEANS OF INTERROGATION
JANUARY 22, 2009: PRESIDENT OBAMA issued Executive Order #13491 that ended these practices, fulling a longstanding campaign promise.
The executive order said that prisoners "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment)." It also specifically nullifies interpretations of federal law on interrogations "issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009" under President George W. Bush.
The executive order brings the CIA into line with U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogation. This limits interrogators to humane techniques, a standard that already applies as a matter of law to the U.S. military.
In addition, Obama created a High Value Interrogation Group to manage the debriefing of the most important suspected terrorist captives using humane, non-coercive techniques. While there is no official policy of abuse anymore, it will still take strong leadership from the president on down to prevent it from happening.
THE MUCH MALIGNED STIMULUS
February 17, 2009: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) - The goal of this initiative was, in conjunction with TARP, to prevent America from entering a depression of the size equal to or greater than that of the Great 1929 Depression; a course most economist of any merit said we were on. Here are facts Conservatives want you quickly to forget and that Democrats have not found an effective way to present:
- In Nov 2008, President Bush and the Conservative economic policy lost 533,000 jobs!
- In Dec 2008, President Bush and the Conservative economic policy lost another 524,000 jobs!
- In all of 2008, President Bush and the Conservative economic policy lost a total of 2,600,000 jobs!
- In Jan 2009, when President Bush left the White House, he lost yet another 598,000 job!
- In Jan 2009, when President Bush left the White House, he had increased unemployment from in the low 5% to 7.6% and climbing ... FAST!
- When President Obama took office, basically in February 2009, the job loss caused by President Bush and the Conservative economic policy in what is now the Great 2009 Bush Recession was accelerating; it hadn't hit its peak yet and wasn't going to for another two month; numbers that somehow the Democrats have let the Conservatives lay at the feet of President Obama.
- The ARRA was based on 3rd Quarter, 2008 economic data, the only solid data available at the time; it predicted a moderate recession. The ARRA reflected that.
If the 3rd Quarter data had been accurate, the ARRA would have been adequate. As it was, it was sufficient to put the brakes on a run-away train let loose by the previous administration in less than 10 months; an unheard of feat for financial-type depression/recessions.
EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS TEMPORARILY SUSPEND TAXING THESE BENEFITS
February 17, 2009: This promise was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
EXPAND THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT
February 17, 2009: As part of ARRA, President Obama fulfilled 2/3rds of this promise with an expansion of the earned income tax credit for workers without children and taxpayers with three or more children.
REVERSE RESTRICTIONS ON STEM-CELL RESEARCH
MARCH 9, 2009: President Obama promised to "... lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001 through executive order ... ". On March 9, 2009, he signed such an Executive Order.
INCENTIVES FOR LOANS TO SMALL BUSINESSES THROUGH THE SBA WERE EXPANDED
MARCH 16, 2009: President Obama has said "Our recovery in the present and our prosperity in the future depend upon the success of America's small businesses and entrepreneurs," To help provide for this success, Obama said he would increase the amount the SBA would guarantee to private lenders making loans under Small Business Administration (SBA) programs. Previously, the federal government would guarantee 85 percent for loans at or below $150,000 and up to 75 percent for larger loans. Under the new program, the government will guarantee up to 90 percent of all loans for a limited time. The money for the programs will come from the economic stimulus package, aka, "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act", and from money already approved for use by the Treasury Department.
EXPAND "SERVE AMERICA" ACT TO INCLUDED SENIOR CITIZENS
April 21, 2009: President Obama, when campaigning for that office, promised to expand a volunteer program aimed at keeping seniors active in their communities. On April 21, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, a large expansion of the national service program, which included provisions that kept Obama's promise to seniors.
INCREASE MINORITY ACCESS TO CAPITAL
August 18, 2009: President Obama announced his plan in increase access to contracting opportunites by minority-owned, small businesses that keeps his pledge to "Strengthen Small Business Administration programs that provide capital to minority-owned businesses, support outreach programs that help minority business owners apply for loans, and work to encourage the growth and capacity of minority firms."
Historically and still today, minority and women-owned, small businesses have a harder time attracting contracts than their no better qualified white, male owned businesses of the same size therefore promting President Obama's action, to the disgruntlement of Conservatives. As of November 13, 2009, $14.7 billion had been distributed in the form of stimulus contracts with the help of the Small Business Administration.
CREATE A $3,000 TAX CREDIT FOR COMPANIES THAT ADD JOBS
March 18, 2010: This was a very tough promise to fulfill, and it ended up being a compromise. Congress was not willing to go along with this job creating idea for whatever reason and voted down its many variations including the one that was supposed to be part of the stimulus bill. In the in end, on March 18, President Obama signed into law the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act which included provisions up to a $1,000 rebate for each new employee hired under certain conditions and an exemption from paying social security taxes, up to $6,600, on previously unemployed workers that were hired in 2010.
March 23, 2010: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, and the March 30, 2010, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, comprise what Conservatives would like to derisively call "Obama Care." I would encourage President Obama and Democrats to embrace the term and use it for their own, it has been done before, because this program, even watered-down, is something they can be proud of!
As to popularity, well that is a different story. Since it's passage, Obama Care's approval rating has held fairly steady at about 43%, with a slight rally from Jun to Sep 2010, the high was 50%, while it's disapproval rating has fluctuated between 35% in July 2010 and 50% in Jan 2011, but has averaged around 43% as well; the slack is taken up with Undecided. As of Aug 2011, Approval is 39% and Disapproval is 44%; the month before, it was 42%/43%, respectively. I suspect the reason is, in addition to the Conservatives long, drawn-out propaganda campaign against health care reform, is the lack of understanding by the American people of what the reform brought to the table, a recent Kaiser Health survey clearly points this out. By implication, this means that President Obama and the Democrats need to get on the ball and start making sure the American people understand all of the good Obama Care does for them. So, what is that good:
- The plan is not a government takeover of health care like in Canada or Britain. This is the biggest myth the Conservatives were able to convince Americans was true and many Americans still believe this is true today! It isn't!. At one point in time, early in the debate, the far left wanted true "one-payer" government health care vis-a-vis Medicare. That idea died very quickly. Conservatives, however, were successful in making Americans believe, falsely, that this is what the Democrats were attempting to pass. Simply not true. What was passed is not much different than how people buy insurance today; it is not even as good as how the Conservative federal politicians purchase their insurance.
- Insurance companies will be regulated more heavily. They will be told the minimum services they must cover, including preventive care. They will have to pay out a certain percentage of premiums for patient care. By 2014, when the exchanges open, insurers won't be able to deny customers for pre-existing conditions. This two points are HUGE benefits to Americans which even Conservatives like, but hate to admit and will repeal if given the chance. They do not want to tie insurers hands by making sure Americans get a minimum set of services for their money.
- Everyone will have to have health insurance or pay a fine, a requirement known as the individual mandate.The fine for not having insurance would be a minimum of $695 per person per year, with exemptions for financial hardship and other special cases. Without this mandate to prevent freeloading by healthy Americans, the cost of health care will skyrocket.
- Lower income Americans will get help with their premiums. The government intends to cap premiums for people who make below a certain income. For people who buy insurance on the exchanges, a family of four making $88,000 would have a cap of 9.5 percent of their income. Lower incomes would have lower caps. This is a provision very few Americans are aware of.
- Employers will not be required to buy insurance for their employees, but large employers may be subject to fines if they don't provide insurance. But Congress wanted to encourage employers, especially large employers, to offer insurance. So they created a fine for employers with more than 50 workers: If those employees are forced to buy insurance on the exchanges and qualify for a low-income credit from the government, then the employer would have to pay a fine. Fines are calculated based on number of employees; for large firms, the fines could be significant.
- The vast majority of people will not see significant declines in premiums nor will they see significant increases in premiums. When President Obama talks about premiums going down, he usually means they won't go up as much as they would otherwise. For the four out of five people who get their insurance through their employer, the savings would land in the 0 to 3 percent range by 2016, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO. People who buy insurance on their own, but who don't qualify for government subsidies, could actually see their premiums rise by as much as 10 to 13 percent, but that's largely because they'll be getting beefed-up policies that would pay for more basic services, especially preventive care. Low-income people who qualify for new credits to buy insurance would see the biggest drops.
- The government-run Medicare program will keep paying medical bills for seniors, but it will begin implementing cost controls on health care providers, mostly through penalties and incentives.(These cost controls are probably the Medicare dollars Michelle Bachmann says the Democrats are stealing.) 1) The legislation would reduce payments for hospital-acquired infections or preventable hospital admissions; 2) for Medicare Advantage, the federal government intends to reduce extra payments; 3) taking away subsidies to private insurance companies.
- Medicaid, a joint federal-state program for the poor, will cover all of the poor, instead of just a few groups the way it currently does. Right now, to qualify for Medicaid, a person has to be poor and also disabled, elderly, pregnant or a child. Under the new plan, all poor adults would qualify; something else most Americans don't know about.
- You will not be taxed for the company provided portion of medical benefits. This is another great myth propagated by the Conservatives, I just heard it from a well educated business person just last week. It simply isn't true but sure is a good indication of how effective the Conservative propaganda machine is. The reason this myth abounds is that the IRS will require the amount of the premiums be reported on the employee's W-2, but this is to help with compliance; they will not be added to taxable income, however. Nice try, Conservatives.
- Illegal immigrants are not eligible for benefits under Obama Care. Another Conservative Obama Care myth busted!
Some of the major improvements in the delivery of health care that Obama Care does deliver are:
- Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. This becomes effective in 2014, but, in its place, a high-risk pool has been established for uninsured people with pre-existing conditions. [Will not go into effect if Supreme Court rules against Obamacare]
- Provide tax credits to help middly and low-income tax payers afford health insurance.The subsidies will take effect in 2014 and are available to Americans who buy insurance on the exchange, which will be virtual marketplaces for health plans. The exchanges are designed to serve people who do not already have insurance through their employer and who are not covered by a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid. [Will not go into effect if Supreme Court rules against Obamacare]
- Require large employers to contribute to a national health plan. This provision also starts in 2014 and provides the companies of 50 or more employees who do not provide health insurance must pay a fine of $2000 per employee, excluding the first 30, if there is at least one full-time employee receives a public subsidy to purchase health insurance.
- Requires that all children have health insurance coverage. This part of Obama Care is currently in force. The law allows dependents up to age 26 to remain on parents health care plans. [Will probably be repealed if Supreme Court rules against Obamacare]
- Expand eligibility for Medicaid. Will become effective in 2014. Historically, Medicaid coverage has been focused primarily on pregnant women, children and the disabled. Under the new law, eligibility will be expanded to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. New beneficiaries will be assured a package that includes essential health benefits. [Will not go into effect if Supreme Court rules against Obamacare]
- Health insurers must disclose how much of their premium goes toward patient care. This provision is now in force. Obama Care requires health insurance providers to report how much they spend on payments for clinical coverage, activities that improve health care quality, and "all other non-claims costs." Further, starting in 2011, companies that provide insurance for the small group and individual market must issue rebates if they do not spend at least 80 percent of the premium revenue on medical care. For the large group market, the threshold is 85 percent. The rebate amount is based on the premium revenue and by how much the provider falls short of the prescribed thresholds.
- Establish an independent health institute to provide accurate and objective information. This rule is currently in effect and it creates a new entity which will set priorities and conduct research. It will be independent, governed by a board of experts and stakeholders; the research will be peer-reviewed and made public.
It is intended that this research will lower costs by advising against expensive procedures that don't improve people's health. But critics have suggested that the effort could lead the United States down a slippery slope in which experts insert themselves between doctors and patients and micromanage what treatments should be used -- especially with regard to end-of-life decisions; similar to what private insurance companies do today.
Faced with such concerns, the bill's authors took special care to require any findings to be advisory only, rather than being binding on doctors or insurance companies.Responding to the critics' allegations of "death panels," the law prevents the use of any findings "in a manner that treats extending the life of an elderly, disabled, or terminally ill individual as of lower value than extending the life of an individual who is younger, non-disabled, or not terminally ill."
- Increase profits for hospitals and doctors. This is a natural outcome of Obama Care and the reasons are simple to understand; they rest on the fact that more people will be insured, especially the poor. Between the subsidies leading to large increases in the number of people under private insurance and increasing the scope of Medicaid for the indigent, hospitals and doctors will see a significant rise in their income. For the hospitals and doctors, a lot of the emergency room care that was provided to uninsured Americans went unpaid; that will be virtually eliminated because, as has been demonstrated in Massachusetts, the poor will be paid by Medicare and the others will be paid by private insurance. 2) there will simply many more insured Americans, 30 million of them, which will drive down emergency room visits, lowering costs, and transferring payments from lower Medicaid to higher private insurance.
MARCH 27, 2012: THE CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT WILL DECIDE 1) if the Supreme Court has jurisdiction at this time, 2) whether the insurance mandate is Constitutional, 3) whether the rest of Obamacare can be kept in force if the Court does not uphold the individual mandate, and 4) whether the expansion of Medicaid is Constitutional.
JUNE 2012: THE SUPREME COURT HELD THAT 1) the Court did have jurisdiction, 2) the insurance mandate IS Constitutional, 3) no longer applicable, and 4) the expansion of Medicaid relative to the State's requirement to participate was Unconstitutional.
MAY 2013 UPDATE: CALIFORNIA AND A COUPLE OF OTHER STATES have released their proposed rates for people signing up to the Obamacare Insurance Exchange programs which begin Jan 1, 2014 but can be joined starting Oct 1, 2013. In each case, the overall premiums are coming in lower than expected.
JUNE 2013: THE CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MADICAID SERVICES (CMS) published data based on actual experience in their 2nd Annual Report. They found, among other things:
- Part B (certain medical costs) premiums had been increasing at a 2% annual rate will decrease in 2013.
- So far, seniors have saved $5.7 billion in prescription drug costs.
- 34 million Medicare recipients have benefitted from the now free preventative care exams
- Has and will achieve $200 billion in short-term savings through 2016 from the various efficiencies detailed in the Act.
- Has and will save Medicare recipients $208 billion by 2020 in lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
I have more detailed information in my hub titled Obamacare May Start A Winning Streak! The Insurance Premiums Are Starting to Come Out ... And They Are Down.
JULY 2013: You can add New York State to the list of California, Washington, and Oregon which are the states referred to in the May 2013 update.
CLOSE THE MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN "DOUGHNUT HOLE"
March 30, 2010: AS PART of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which President Obama signed into law on March 23 and 30, 2010, respectively, the 'doughnut hole' in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program was officially closed; just as President Obama promised it would be. This "doughnut hole" is an artifact of President Bush's unpaid for Part D Prescription Drug Program that left seniors holding the bad for the whole cost of their drugs while still paying the Part D premiums to insurance companies.
Initially, seniors pay the first $310. Then, for the next $2,520, seniors are responsible for 25% of the cost. After that, the seniors are on their own until they have spent a total of $4,550 of their own money; this is the "doughnut hole". From this point on, seniors pay only 5% of the cost.
When President Obama's fix is fully implemented, about 2020, seniors will pay the 25% co-pay at all times until the out-of-pocket limit of $4,550 is reached.
REQUIRE ECONOMIC JUSTIFICATION FOR TAX
March 30, 2010: This strange sounding action was a little known part of Obama Care and had nothing to do with health care but was expected to bring in about $4.5 billion over 10 years to help pay for the health care program. This fulfills an Obama promise to "Adopt the economic substance doctrine, a policy that states that tax changes must have significant economic justification, as a federal law."
Basically what this law does is prevent companies, primarily large corporations, from structuring a transaction in such a way that the only benefit to that unorthodox structure, while legal, is the tax benefit itself. Do Conservatives support this initiative? I haven't heard.
INCREASE FUNDING FOR PROGRAMS THAT CONSERVE LANDS AND HABITATS FOR SELECTED SPECIES
APRIL 16, 2010: During his 2008 presidential campaign, President Barack Obama promised to make major changes to habitat conservation programs. He promised to:
- "Fight to increase funding for the Conservation Security Program and the major set-aside programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, and Grasslands Reserve Program, so that rental rates can compete with rising commodity prices.”
- "Direct the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to place a special emphasis on restoration of habitat for important game species associated with specific regions of the United States, s