Day 34 of the Obama Administration - History

Day 34 of the Obama Administration - History


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The President began his day with his daily economic and security briefings. He then spoke to National governors association. In his talk the President thanked the governors for their involvement in helping pass the economic stimulus. The President announced that Vice President Obama would be responsible for supervising the implementation of the program. Full Text

In the afternoon the President held an extraordinary session on Fiscal Responsibility. The meeting was attended by a diverse group of congressman and experts from both parties. The President and Vice President began the meeting with opening remarks. The session then moved on to working groups, on procurement, social security reform, taxation and medical reform. The sessions that were open to pool reporters were open and the remarks by the participants were frank and interesting. The session ended by an open televised session were the President took questions from the participants and engaged in open dialogue. It was an extraordinary session.


Presidency of Barack Obama

Barack Obama served as the 44th president of the United States from his first inauguration on January 20, 2009, until January 20, 2017. Obama, a Democrat from Illinois, took office following a decisive victory over Republican nominee John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Four years later, in the 2012 presidential election, he defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney to win re-election. Obama was succeeded by Republican Donald Trump, who won the 2016 presidential election. He was the first African American president, the first multiracial president, the first non-white president, and the first president to have been born in Hawaii.

Obama's first-term actions addressed the global financial crisis and included a major stimulus package, a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts, legislation to reform health care, a major financial regulation reform bill, and the end of a major US military presence in Iraq. Obama also appointed Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the latter of whom became the first Hispanic American on the Supreme Court. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress until Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections. Following the elections, Obama and Congressional Republicans engaged in a protracted stand-off over government spending levels and the debt ceiling. The Obama administration's policy against terrorism downplayed Bush's counterinsurgency model, expanding air strikes and making extensive use of special forces, and encouraging greater reliance on host-government militaries. The Obama administration orchestrated the military operation that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

In his second term, Obama took steps to combat climate change, signing a major international climate agreement and an executive order to limit carbon emissions. Obama also presided over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and other legislation passed in his first term, and he negotiated rapprochements with Iran and Cuba. The number of American soldiers in Afghanistan fell dramatically during Obama's second term, though U.S. soldiers remained in Afghanistan throughout Obama's presidency and continue to as of 2021. Republicans took control of the Senate after the 2014 elections, and Obama continued to grapple with Congressional Republicans over government spending, immigration, judicial nominations, and other issues.


Does Obama have the ‘worst’ record of any president on the national debt?

Just when we were beginning to think that politicians in Washington no longer cared much about the national debt, the RNC chairman hauled out this chestnut during a speech. As we have frequently pointed out, context is important when talking about “worst” records, especially with regard to a subject such as the national debt, which can span decades, even centuries.

It’s also important to remember that it’s a bit silly to attribute all of the increases — or decreases — in the national debt to a president’s policies. It’s not as if everything magically changes the moment a president takes the oath of office in Obama’s case, he inherited a recession that sent government revenue plunging in the first months of his presidency. Bill Clinton frequently brags about creating a budget surplus, but that was partly a result of the gusher of revenue that accompanied the technology boom in the mid-1990s.

Time for a refresher course!

The Facts

Sean Spicer, the RNC’s communication director, defended Priebus’s statement by pointing out that “in terms of dollars, Obama has added more debt (based on either total national debt or debt held by the public) than any of his predecessors.” Citing the U.S. Treasury “debt to the penny” Web site, Spicer noted that the gross national debt, which includes bonds held by Social Security and the other government trust funds, stood at $10.627 trillion on Jan. 20 and reached $17.994 trillion on Dec. 3 — an increase of about 70 percent. In terms of debt held by the public, the number has doubled from $6.307 trillion to $12.932 trillion in the same period.

Case closed? Nope. The biggest problem with this kind of calculation is that every president inherits a debt from the previous one, making it virtually certain that the pile of debt is going to grow. So raw numbers don’t tell you much what’s important is the percentage change in the time period being measured.

So under Obama, the debt has increased 70 percent after nearly six years. But let’s look at what happened under Republican hero Ronald Reagan, using the fiscal year numbers in the White House’s historical budget tables.

Size of national debt when Reagan took office: $1 trillion
Size after six years: $2.3 trillion (130 percent increase)
Size at the end of his presidency: $2.9 trillion (190 percent increase)

In other words, when the numbers are placed in context, the national debt grew faster under Reagan than it has under Obama. But even he was a piker compared with wartime presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

As Roosevelt battled the Great Depression and World War II, the debt soared from $23 billion in 1933 to $266 billion in 1945, or more than a 1,000 percent increase. Wilson, meanwhile, boosted the national debt from $3 billion in 1913 to $24 billion in 1921, for an increase of more than 700 percent. In fact, it was during Wilson’s presidency — and World War I – that the national debt limit was first established.

Spicer noted that when Obama was a candidate in 2008, he attacked George W. Bush using the same sort of raw-dollar accounting, declaring that adding $4 trillion to the national debt was irresponsible and “unpatriotic.”

But as we often say, two wrongs don’t make a right. Obama would have been liable for some Pinocchios if this language had come to The Fact Checker’s attention in 2008.

There are other ways one can try to measure a president’s effect on the debt, which we have explored in the past. Debt as a share of gross domestic product, for instance, is very useful for examining whether the nation is able to pay for the debt over time.

But measuring percentage changes in the debt/GDP ratio over time can be misleading because the GDP number is affected by the state of the economy, especially if the president suffers through a recession at the start of their term. Most recent presidents experienced robust annual GDP growth rates, compared with the flat line of Obama’s first years, which means the numerator in their calculation of GDP percentage grew much faster than the one used for Obama.

One alternative method looks at the dollar amount of the debt increase divided by the dollar amount of GDP at the end of each term. Obama’s numbers for the debt and GDP are only through Sept. 30, 2014 (updated to Dec. 15, 2015), and thus should be considered a temporary figure, as an improving economy might boost the GDP and thus improve his ratio. At current trends, however, it is likely that Obama’s performance would be the worst among recent presidents, according to this calculation. (He would still trail Roosevelt and Wilson among presidents in the last hundred years.)


Obama Administration Most Diverse In History

President Barack Obama has the most diverse administration in history, with women and minorities holding a majority of the top policy positions for the first time ever.

The analysis , compiled by University of California at Berkeley law school professor Anne Joseph O’Connell and published by The Washington Post, demonstrates that one of Obama's legacies may be in fundamentally changing the face of the federal workforce.

O'Connell's research covers more than 80 policy positions requiring Senate confirmation. Obama has placed women and minorities in 53.5 percent of those spots, compared with 25.6 percent during George W. Bush's presidency and 37.5 percent under Bill Clinton.

The research comes on the heels of Obama's nomination of Eric Fanning to lead the Army . If confirmed, Fanning will be the first openly gay Army secretary in history, just four years after the country ended its prohibition on gay men and women serving openly in the military.

The administration is also currently looking at ending the ban on transgender service members , a move Fanning has said he supports.

Obama has also made his mark on the federal judiciary and will leave the White House with record diversity on the federal bench . He has nominated more female judges than any other president in history -- breaking Clinton's record -- and put in place more African-American judges than every other president combined.

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told the Washington Post that Obama has "made a very deliberate effort to be inclusive in the diversity of his administration at all levels."


Poverty level under Obama breaks 50-year record

Fifty years after President Johnson started a $20 trillion taxpayer-funded war on poverty, the overall percentage of impoverished people in the U.S. has declined only slightly and the poor have lost ground under President Obama.

Aides said Mr. Obama doesn’t plan to commemorate the anniversary Wednesday of Johnson’s speech in 1964, which gave rise to Medicaid, Head Start and a broad range of other federal anti-poverty programs. The president’s only public event Tuesday was a plea for Congress to approve extended benefits for the long-term unemployed, another reminder of the persistent economic troubles during Mr. Obama’s five years in office.

“What I think the American people are really looking for in 2014 is just a little bit of stability,” Mr. Obama said.

Although the president often rails against income inequality in America, his policies have had little impact overall on poverty. A record 47 million Americans receive food stamps, about 13 million more than when he took office.

The poverty rate has stood at 15 percent for three consecutive years, the first time that has happened since the mid-1960s. The poverty rate in 1965 was 17.3 percent it was 12.5 percent in 2007, before the Great Recession.

About 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, which the federal government defined in 2012 as an annual income of $23,492 for a family of four.

President Obama’s anti-poverty efforts “are basically to give more people more free stuff,” said Robert Rector, a specialist on welfare and poverty at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“That’s exactly the opposite of what Johnson said,” Mr. Rector said. “Johnson’s goal was to make people prosperous and self-sufficient.”

The president’s advisers defend his policies by saying they rescued the nation from the deep recession in 2009, saved the auto industry and reduced the jobless rate to 7 percent from a high of 10 percent four years ago.

Gene Sperling, the president’s top economic adviser, said Mr. Obama has pulled as many as 9 million people out of poverty with policies such as extending the earned income tax credit for parents with three or more children and reducing the “marriage penalty.”

“There are things that this president has done that have made a big difference,” Mr. Sperling said Monday.

The White House again is pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage, this time advocating a Senate bill that would raise the hourly rate to $10.10 from its current $7.25. Mr. Sperling said that action would lift another 6.8 million workers out of poverty.

“It would make them less dependent on government programs. It would not add to the deficit one penny, but it would reward work and reduce poverty,” he said.

The president is expected to use his State of the Union address Jan. 20 to pressure Congress to raise the minimum wage. He made the same pitch a year ago.

Democrats are advocating issues such as unemployment benefits and the minimum wage especially hard this year as the class-warfare rhetoric heats up to frame the congressional midterm elections. House Republican leaders oppose increasing the minimum wage and want unemployment benefits to be paid with savings elsewhere in the budget. Mr. Obama is insisting that the benefits be extended without offsets.

The president last month declared the widening gap between rich and poor as “the defining challenge of our time,” and Democratic candidates are expected to pick up that theme on the campaign trail rather than debate deficits and the complications of Obamacare.

In spite of the administration’s anti-poverty efforts, however, the government reported this week that poverty by some measures has been worse under Mr. Obama than it was under President George W. Bush. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 31.6 percent of Americans were in poverty for at least two months from 2009 to 2011, a 4.5 percentage point increase over the pre-recession period of 2005 to 2007.

Of the 37.6 million people who were poor at the beginning of 2009, 26.4 percent remained in poverty throughout the next 34 months, the report said. Another 12.6 million people escaped poverty during that time, but 13.5 million more fell into poverty.

Mr. Rector said the war on poverty has been a failure when measured by the overall amount of money spent and poverty rates that haven’t changed significantly since Johnson gave his speech.

“We’ve spent $20.7 trillion on means-tested aid since that time, and the poverty rate is pretty much exactly where it was in the mid-1960s,” he said.

The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in a report that some trends have helped reduce poverty since the 1960s, including more Americans completing high school and more women working outside the home. But the group said other factors have contributed to persistent poverty, including a tripling in the number of households led by single parents.

Mr. Rector said too many government anti-poverty programs still discourage marriage, factoring into statistics that show more than four in 10 children are born to unmarried parents.

“When the war on poverty started, about 6 percent of children were born outside of marriage,” he said. “Today that’s 42 percent — catastrophe.”


Strategic initiative on China’s side

Despite the limited role of policy, the relationships between big powers like the US and China are mainly driven by their comprehensive national power. Coincidentally, China’s national strength increased over the past eight years. In this context, the US needs a new policy to deal with China, and the Obama administration did devise one — the unsuccessful “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific” policy.

On the contrary, China has not only narrowed its gap with the US, but also demonstrated more strategic initiative, as exemplified by the concept of “a new type of major power relations”, which was proposed by President Xi Jinping during his meeting with Obama at the Annenberg Retreat in California in June 2013. The defining elements of this type of relations are “no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation”. The US is able to completely accept “no conflict or confrontation,” but not “mutual respect”. The US can also partially accept “win-win cooperation”. For example, the two countries are, more or less, willing to cooperate on issues such as anti-terrorism, nuclear security and climate change. In other words, Obama has neither rejected nor accepted the construction of this new type of bilateral relations. Whether the US can accept this concept or not, the failed rebalance strategy of the US has allowed China to gain the strategic initiative with a slight upper hand.

At the same time, China continues to boost its presence and increase its say in US-dominated frameworks. For example, China has managed to include the RMB into the SDR basket, continued to appoint senior officials at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, increased its UN membership dues and mapped out its own global strategy after the 18th CPC National Congress, as evidenced by the “One Belt, One Road” initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. That’s to say, China has broadened its vision beyond Sino-US relations to a global scale. This has helped it gain more strategic initiative. By contrast, the US has regressed significantly in terms of strategic thinking when compared with the Cold War period. When it comes to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, there is a false belief among US elites that the dissolution was a result of the US triumph over the Soviet Union rather than the result of its internal problems. This has encouraged the US to be arrogant and belligerent and make lots of enemies. The “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific” policy designed to contain China is also devoid of creativity as a continuation of its old-fashioned geopolitical mentality.


Day 34 of the Obama Administration - History

A Facebook post claimed that there have been 317 criminal indictments in the administrations of three recent Republican presidents — Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon — and only three indictments under three recent Democratic presidents — Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Here’s what the post said about those presidents, whose terms date back to 1969 when Nixon was in office:

"Recent administrations with the MOST criminal indictments:

"Recent administrations with the LEAST criminal indictments:

Unless an administration official is charged with a crime for acts while in office, it’s not always easy to identify which indictments can be connected to a presidential administration some administration officials have been indicted for acts in the private sector, some indicted people were involved in presidential campaigns but didn’t work in the administration, etc.

This claim exaggerates the number of indictments under Trump, in particular, by counting the number of criminal charges filed, rather than the number of people indicted and it includes the indictments of people who are not part of his administration, such as 25 Russians.

On the whole, however, the indictments under the three GOP presidents do dwarf those under the three Democrats.

An indictment is essentially a two-step process in the federal system:

1. An agency such as the FBI or the IRS investigates possible crimes. If the agency decides to seek criminal charges, the case goes to a grand jury.

2. The grand jury is designed to be an impartial body of citizens drawn from the community that, with the help of prosecutors, conducts its own investigation, in secret. If the grand jury decides that criminal charges should be filed, an indictment is issued.

(Conviction, of course, would occur only after a plea bargain or trial.)

The indictment formally charges a person or persons with a criminal offense or offenses. In other words, one indictment can contain multiple criminal charges against a single individual or against multiple individuals.


Related

Generation Forever War: Biden’s National Security Picks Herald Return to Hawkish Normalcy

On the foreign policy and national security front, the differences are slight. Where Sanders had pledged an end to forever wars, Biden is implementing a restoration of Obama’s approach in many ways. Where Obama named Clinton secretary of state, Biden turned to his longtime aide Tony Blinken. At the Pentagon, Obama kept in place Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and named Michèle Flournoy undersecretary of defense. Post-administration, Flournoy and Blinken cashed in to create WestExec Advisors, a lucrative strategic consulting firm that helped tech companies win Pentagon contracts. Flournoy is the frontrunner for defense secretary, though Biden may be having second thoughts.

For national security adviser, Biden has selected Jake Sullivan, now 44, a wunderkind aide to Clinton, where Obama named Marine Gen. James Jones. Dennis Blair was Obama’s first director of national intelligence, where Biden has chosen Avril Haines, who was the administration lawyer who advised on the kill list.

And Rahm Emanuel has yet to be ruled out for a Cabinet post.

Overall, Biden’s choices for most positions, from the perspective of the more progressive wing of the party, aren’t necessarily good, but they’re not as bad as Obama’s either. Still, with millions facing eviction and destitution, and just a decade to turn the global economy around to avert a climate apocalypse, better isn’t good enough.


Barack Obama’s Presidential Library Is Making a Mockery of Transparency

The leader of the “most transparent administration in history” has been anything but transparent when it comes to plans for his presidential center.

Anthony Clark

JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty

At a public ceremony on July 24, 1939, Franklin Roosevelt pretended to deed a portion of his estate in Hyde Park, New York, to the United States government. FDR had to pretend because his mother, Sara Roosevelt, who held the land, didn’t agree with her son’s plan to build his presidential library there, and slipped off to Europe without signing the deed. FDR hurried a copy to her in France, which her son finally convinced her to sign, although with misgivings.

Eight decades later, we’re still arguing over the where, and the what, of presidential libraries. The latest dispute is over Barack and Michelle Obama’s decision not to build a traditional presidential library—which brings a few benefits, and many downsides, for the American public.

Traditionally, a president would build a library-museum and turn it over to the federal government to operate. For many years, that worked: the government received a free building, scholars had quick access to opened records, and former presidents and their boosters enjoyed the acclaim their self-written biographical exhibits provided.

That all changed during the ❰s when, with costs ballooning and Richard Nixon threatening to destroy key presidential materials, Congress tried to seize the disgraced president’s records and tapes and change the laws to make future records subject to the Freedom of Information Act. It continued into the ➀s when lawmakers worked to rein in cost of these enormous structures by limiting their size and requiring operation and maintenance endowments.

But the changes backfired. Instead of speeding access to new presidential records, the law ground it to a halt, as archivists must first review every one of the tens of millions of pages of records. Presidents found creative ways to get around the new building limits, erecting massive taxpayer-funded structures all while tightly controlling access to the public history in their museums and the private history in their archives.

And now, if the Obamas get their way, all that will change again. For the worse.

Well, mostly for the worse.

Rejecting the model that FDR crafted, and which his 11 successors (and immediate predecessor) followed, the Obamas are trying to build a new kind of institution: the Obama Presidential Center, in Chicago. They’re running into opposition from many corners. Local activists have sought to delay the project until the Obama Foundation signs a community benefits agreement, which would require the foundation to pay for affordable housing, job guarantees, rental assistance, partnerships with public schools— exactly the kind of programs that community organizer, candidate, and President Barack Obama championed.

Mr. Obama and his foundation have flatly rejected calls for the CBA, touting the supposed economic benefits they claim his center will inherently provide for the neighborhood and the city. Further complicating his plans, though, is the fact that both candidates who reached a runoff in Chicago’s mayoral election this week back the CBA.

It gets worse for Obama. Environmentalists and historic preservationists are trying to block the Obama Foundation from constructing the 200,000+ square-foot facility on 20 acres in historic Jackson Park. Opponents say that Chicago officials had pitched what would have otherwise been an illegal land grab as proper and necessary to secure what they then called the “Obama Library.” Now, those fighting against a private organization using the park for what is now called the “Obama Center” see a chance to block it.

Anthony Clark

In a lawsuit they filed in US District Court, the environmentalists claim the foundation and the city of Chicago told the public that the land would be used for an official, federal government-run presidential library, and then, after the land was transferred, backed out of doing just that. Last week, the judge in the case ruled that the group that filed the suit, Protect Our Parks, has standing to proceed.

Further contributing to the Obamas’ woes has been the awful, piecemeal, and still-incomplete rollout of the plan by the foundation and the National Archives and Records Administration, the federal agency charged with preserving and making available presidential records, to handle Obama’s records. Under the plan, the Obamas will not build and donate to the government what would have been the 14th presidential archival facility, and the National Archives will not make the Obama paper records available for public review. Instead, the foundation will select and pay a private vendor to digitize the records—helping to decide the order in which those records are scanned—and NARA will make them available online. Such a decision has alienated many, most prominently the professionals who have been presidential libraries’ most vocal supporters and patrons: journalists, historians, and archivists.

Last week, a New York Times article contributed to the confusion. Readers were alarmed at the possibility that NARA would simply dump 30 million pages of digitized records on a website and let the public find what it could among the bits and bytes, offering no on-site archivists, who, over time, have developed expertise in the records, to consult with researchers. The Times reporter resorted to a Twitter thread to try to clear up misunderstandings created by the article. But historians also took to Twitter to express their grave concerns and seek answers to many questions, including where the Obama records would be held, why researchers wouldn’t have access to the physical records, and how his classified records would be handled.

What’s clear is that, from the start, both the foundation and NARA have botched their public engagement about the Obama Presidential Center. Even clearer is that the presidential library system is broken well beyond the current controversies happening in Chicago.

Scholars who have researched at the earlier libraries think fondly and protectively of the old system of a time when academics and nonpartisan archival professionals led the National Archives as an independent agency of having instant access to vast quantities of available records that a cadre of professional archivists originally reviewed, processed, and cared for, and who, by and large, remained at one presidential library, developing great expertise and helping generations of researchers find precisely what they needed.

New archivists do not remain with one collection for most of their careers. Requests for presidential records from Ronald Reagan are stuck in years-long backlogs, with access slowed to a crawl. Leadership at the National Archives is firmly controlled by the private foundations that build presidential libraries. Those foundations even select the federal employees who run the libraries, and don’t prize nonpartisan academic achievement when making those selections.

Not one of the 13 federal presidential libraries that NARA operates has released all of its records to the public. The Reagan Library, which has been legally allowed to fulfill records requests from the public for a quarter-century, has not even released half of its records.

While the agency’s defenders claim budget woes as the reason, NARA continues to employ too many curators, exhibit specialists and technicians, educators, marketers, public affairs and communications specialists, and others who work together with the foundations to promote the presidents’ public legacies. These are all full-time government salaries that could be better spent employing archivists and fulfilling NARA’s core mission.

But where NARA spends its appropriation is only part of the problem. The agency is also failing to properly process presidential records.

An audit released two months ago by the NARA Office of Inspector General found the agency’s processing program “is not administered consistently and effectively” and contains “multiple internal control weaknesses.” In addition, the OIG reported experiencing a shocking level of delay and lack of cooperation from staff at the presidential libraries.

The arrangement between the Obama Foundation and the National Archives must be viewed in light of these troubling facts.

To be sure, that a federal agency will not legitimize and will not use taxpayer dollars to operate and maintain the Obama Presidential Museum is a good thing. The government should not be in the business (quite literally) of supporting and enabling a private partisan organization to promote past—and future—political candidates and platforms.

But the fact that there will be no public facility to house and serve the Obama presidential records that a private political organization is controlling the digitization of official presidential records that NARA’s attempts to build a large-scale Electronic Records Archives, at more than half a billion dollars, have failed and that the agency that can’t create a stable, working process will be the one to review and release these records is all very bad indeed.

In 2015, I wrote an open letter to President Obama, urging him to understand the effect that well-designed online access to his documents and electronic records could have to the worlds of education, journalism, and history.

Given what we know about NARA, it appears impossible that we will see such a digital library, much less that the records alone will have this kind of effect.

In a few years, the Obamas will host an enormous celebration to open their presidential center: one without presidential records, federal archivists, or by that point, online access to even a fraction of the digitized and born-digital records that document his presidency.

This lost opportunity is the saddest part of the story. Along with the lack of transparency, the secrecy, the short-of-the mark policies, the hesitancy to act decisively, the waste of government resources in pursuit of personal acclaim, and the abandonment of some of the very groups who supported him the most.


VERDICT

Partly false. All except for one of these unemployment figures was true for at least one month during the Obama and Trump presidencies. However, these statistics do not show the whole picture: Obama started with much higher unemployment rates than Trump due to the Great Recession and rates decreased in his second term and the low, decreasing unemployment figures under Trump dramatically increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .



Comments:

  1. Dosida

    Curious but not clear

  2. Hadley

    effectively ?

  3. Donnell

    and did you try to do so?

  4. Casper

    I don’t need



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