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2012 Democratic Presidential Nominee
Current President of the United States

Barack Obama

Presidential Candidate Barack Obama

Obama on Abortion

Pro-Choice
President Obama's stance on abortion


Federal funding ban on abortions
“Abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.”
President Obama’s statement on the H.R. 3 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act on 14 July 2010, which codifies the Hyde-Weldon conscience clause by prohibiting federal funding for elective abortions and federal subsidies previously allowed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)

Adoption
Supportive
“I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.”
President Obama's statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, 23 January 2011

Roe v. Wade
Supports

“As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue—no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”
January 22, 2012: President Obama’s statement issued on the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

“Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption,”
President Obama's statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, 23 January 2011

Parental Notification
Disagree
“As a parent, Obama believes that young women, if they become pregnant, should talk to their parents before considering an abortion. But he realizes not all girls can turn to their mother or father in times of trouble, and in those instances, we should want these girls to seek the advice of trusted adults"
Responding to a questionnaire from RH Reality Check (October 2007)

Planned Parenthood
“Thanks to all of you at Planned Parenthood for all the work that you are doing for women all across the country and for families all across the country”
The then Senator Obama speaking before a Planned Parenthood Action Fund event in Washington on July 17 2007

Embryonic stem cell research
Supportive
President Obama signed the Executive Order 13505 Removing Barriers To Responsible Scientific Research involving Human Stem Cells on March 9, 2009

Excerps:
"... By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. Research involving human embryonic stem cells and human non-embryonic stem cells has the potential to lead to better understanding and treatment of many disabling diseases and conditions. Advances over the past decade in this promising scientific field have been encouraging, leading to broad agreement in the scientific community that the research should be supported by Federal funds.

For the past 8 years, the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to fund and conduct human embryonic stem cell research has been limited by Presidential actions. The purpose of this order is to remove these limitations on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind.

Sec. 2. Research. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary), through the Director of NIH, may support and conduct responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research, to the extent permitted by law."


Obama on Afghanistan

Troops Withdrawal

On May 2, 2012, exactly one year after the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In a speech to American troops several hours later at the Bagram Air Base, about 35 miles north of the capital Kabul, President Obama announced that U.S. Forces would end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2012, and hand off security control to Afghani forces by 2014. In the remaining period, American forces will focus its efforts in transitioning "from a combat role to a training, advice and assist role" (Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta).


" ... there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over. But tonight, I'd like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan.

First, we've begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half of the Afghan people live in places where Afghan security forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more and more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

Second, we are training Afghan security forces to get the job done. Those forces have surged, and will peak at 352,000 this year. The Afghans will sustain that level for three years, and then reduce the size of their military. And in Chicago, we will endorse a proposal to support a strong and sustainable long-term Afghan force."
May 2, 2012: President Obama's address from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan


The Objectives

Excerpts of President Obama's Full Speech on Troop Reduction in Afghanistan

By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year. But al Qaeda’s leaders had escaped into Pakistan and were plotting new attacks, while the Taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive. Without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al Qaeda and a Taliban taking over large parts of Afghanistan.

For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as President, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al Qaeda, to reverse the Taliban’s momentum, and train Afghan security forces to defend their own country. I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to draw down our forces this July.

Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our extraordinary men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

We’re starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda’s leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known …

The information that we recovered from bin Laden’s compound shows al Qaeda under enormous strain. Bin Laden expressed concern that al Qaeda had been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that had been killed, and that al Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam -– thereby draining more widespread support. Al Qaeda remains dangerous, and we must be vigilant against attacks. But we have put al Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.

In Afghanistan, we’ve inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds. Along with our surge, our allies also increased their commitments, which helped stabilize more of the country. Afghan security forces have grown by over 100,000 troops, and in some provinces and municipalities we’ve already begun to transition responsibility for security to the Afghan people. In the face of violence and intimidation, Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating new opportunities for women and girls, and trying to turn the page on decades of war.



Cost

Obama touching on the cost of the decade-long war on terror

“Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. It is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”

22 June 2011, Obama’s speech from the White House East Room


Pakistan

Outlining the administration’s approach towards Pakistan

“ … need to work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keeps its commitments … ”

22 June 2011, Obama’s speech from the White House East Room



Obama on the Budget

• As the country squirms through recession, President Obama's budget plans to reduce the decades of economic inequality that prevails in the United States. By bringing in a progressive tax code which would involve raising the tax rates for the high income category proportionately and increasing the tax cuts and credits of the middle and low income stratum.

• An overhaul of Health care thereby bringing down private health costs is in the agenda. He signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act aimed at creating 3.5 million new jobs, making important infrastructural investments and giving tax reliefs to 95% of working class Americans.

• The President aims for a long term plan for the country concerning clean and renewable energy. By developing alternative sources of power like solar, bio fuels, thermal power etc he plans to lessen imports of foreign oil thus reducing existing deficits.

• By focusing on energy efficiency and conservation, and curbing emissions the country would curb deadly pollution thereby playing an active role in climate change issues.

• Obama recognizes the role of children and youth in shaping the quality of America's future demography and thereby supports reforms like 'No Child Left Behind' and improving education in general right from the kindergarten level, giving essential training and skills to teachers and rewarding them for their good work etc.

• He aims to make college education accessible to all who are competent by expanding Pell Grants and initiating new tax credits.

• Obama chooses to cut down on war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan and proposes to keep aside $250 billion to bail out the US financial industry besides the $700 billion already set aside.

• Before his election, Obama said that he would require disclosure of all congressional pet projects and force lawmakers pay for any new spending or tax breaks through new revenue and cuts in other programs.


Obama on Business & Labor

• President Obama is a strong supporter of worker's rights. He believes they should be given the right to bargain collectively and strike if the need arises. He would see to it that striking workers are not completely expelled from work.

• Obama believes in the Employees Free Choice Act which is a bipartisan effort to enable workers to organize. The essence of the Act is to give the employees a choice whether to join a union or not and not simply be pressured into joining.

• He opposed Bush's National labor Relations Board's 'Kentucky River' decisions to classify workers such as nurses, construction workers as supervisors. They were not to receive protection under Federal labor laws under this decision therefore Obama cosponsored legislation against this.

• Obama intended to raise the minimum wages index it to inflationary levels and thereby raise the Earned Income Tax Credit.

• Obama supports the United Auto Workers and AFL-CIO and the right of workers to bargain collectively and strike if necessary. While running for election he said that he would work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers.

• Obama believes that America's future lies in developing new clean energy jobs which can be achieved by mandatory limits on carbon pollution which will create a stable business environment welcoming investments from entrepreneurs in a new energy economy.

• Obama plans to invest in innovation and development by giving increased access to capital and by cutting health care costs and also by introducing a new Small Business Health Tax Credit.

• He supports the setting up of a national infrastructure bank to use public and private capital to fund projects. He builds in creating jobs by rebuilding business infrastructure.

• Obama believes that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Obama cosponsored and is strong advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bipartisan effort to assure that workers can exercise their right to organize. He will continue to fight for EFCA's passage and sign it into law.


Obama on Capital Punishment

Obama feels utmost caution should be taken on the subject of capital punishment, and it should be reserved only for ‘heinous crimes’.
“I believe that the death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances. There are extraordinarily heinous crimes, terrorism, the harm of children, in which it may be appropriate. Obviously we’ve had some problems in this state, in the application of the death penalty and that’s why a moratorium was put in place and that’s why I was so proud to be one of the leaders in making sure that we overhauled it, death penalty system that was broken. For example, passing the first in the nation videotaping of interrogations and confessions in capital cases. We have to have this ultimate sanction for certain circumstances in which the entire community says this is beyond the pale”
October 21, 2004, Illinois State Debate


"While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes—mass murder, the rape and murder of a child—so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment."
Page 35, 'Audacity of Hope'



Obama on China

Obama views China as one of the rising powers of the 21st century, and believes a more conciliatory and pragmatic approach is the key towards improving the two nation’s relationship. He made his intent clear in 2009 when he nominated the Utah Governor at the time, Jon Huntsman Jr., to become the American Ambassador of China, convinced that the Republican’s experience in the region and fluency in Mandarin made him the perfect choice for the role.
I know there are many who question how the United States perceives China's emergence. But as I have said, in an interconnected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game, and nations need not fear the success of another. Cultivating spheres of cooperation -- not competing spheres of influence -- will lead to progress in the Asia Pacific.

Now, as with any nation, America will approach China with a focus on our interests. And it's precisely for this reason that it is important to pursue pragmatic cooperation with China on issues of mutual concern, because no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century alone, and the United States and China will both be better off when we are able to meet them together.

That's why we welcome China's effort to play a greater role on the world stage -- a role in which their growing economy is joined by growing responsibility. China's partnership has proved critical in our effort to jumpstart economic recovery. China has promoted security and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And it is now committed to the global nonproliferation regime, and supporting the pursuit of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

So the United States does not seek to contain China, nor does a deeper relationship with China mean a weakening of our bilateral alliances. On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations.

And so in Beijing and beyond, we will work to deepen our strategic and economic dialogue, and improve communication between our militaries. Of course, we will not agree on every issue, and the United States will never waver in speaking up for the fundamental values that we hold dear -- and that includes respect for the religion and cultures of all people -- because support for human rights and human dignity is ingrained in America. But we can move these discussions forward in a spirit of partnership rather than rancor."
Full Speech
November 14, 2009: President Obama speaking at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan





Obama on Civil Liberties


Civil libertarians and civil rights activists had high hopes that an Obama presidency would signal a reversal of the legislative challenges to civil liberties that were enacted during the Bush administration, specifically in relation to homeland security laws. However, there is a growing sense of disenchantment with the President over his perceived capitulation in the face of the ‘soft on terror’ charges made by his political opponents. So much so, Obama, with his long history of supporting civil liberties causes, is now seen as siding with the hawkish elements of Congress.

Legendary actor and prominent social and political activist, Harry Belafonte Jr., a noted Obama supporter, expressed his disappointment in the president’s approach to civil liberties while speaking after the screening of his autobiographical film at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville on January 24, 2012.

belafonte
“More important,” he said, are “the homeland security laws, which were written to such extremes that they defied imagination that anyone could have thought of those laws.”

That those laws made their way through Congress and were signed by the President, he said, “was an absolutely stunning experience for all of us, and certainly for some of us who saw it in the depth of its villainy.”

Looking out over the audience, Belafonte painted a darkly dramatic picture of the effect of laws like the USA PATRIOT Act and the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed on December 31 by President Obama.”
January 25, 2012: The Examiner, Belafonte criticizes Obama on civil liberties in Charlottesville

Obama’s signing of the wide-ranging $662 billion national defense bill, H.R. 1540 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012), in particular, has riled up civil liberties group. They accuse the President of abandoning his principles over political expediency. While a veto from him would not necessarily prevent a subsequent passing of the bill by Congress, it would establish his moral authority on the subject.

Activists are particularly concerned with Title X (Subtitle D, Section 1031-1032) of the Act, which authorizes the military to participate in domestic law enforcement and bypass the judicial process, which they believe is a direct infringement of the Fifth and Sixth Amendment, as well as the Posse Comitatus Act (U.S. Code § 1385), which states,
§ 1385. USE OF ARMY AND AIR FORCE AS POSSE COMITATUS

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
White House insiders, meanwhile, argues that eliminating these provisions from the bill would have prevented its passing in Congress, and create another legislative battle that would affect the nation’s defense budget, including the wages for our military personnel, and the President had to make a pragmatic decision.
“I have signed the Act chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed. In hundreds of separate sections totaling over 500 pages, the Act also contains critical Administration initiatives to control the spiraling health care costs of the Department of Defense (DoD), to develop counterterrorism initiatives abroad, to build the security capacity of key partners, to modernize the force, and to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of military operations worldwide.

The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists…

… Ultimately, I decided to sign this bill not only because of the critically important services it provides for our forces and their families and the national security programs it authorizes, but also because the Congress revised provisions that otherwise would have jeopardized the safety, security, and liberty of the American people.”
December 31, 2011: Obama announcing the signing of the NDAA


Obama on Cuba

In September 2010, Obama extended the presidential authority to order the continuation of the existing economic embargo on Cuba by another year, as per the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act.
Presidential Memorandum-Continuation of Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act

SUBJECT: Continuation of the Exercise of Certain Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act

Under section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223 (91 Stat. 1625; 50 U.S.C. App. 5(b) note), and a previous determination on September 11, 2009 (74 FR 47431, September 16, 2009), the exercise of certain authorities under the Trading With the Enemy Act is scheduled to terminate on September 14, 2010.

I hereby determine that the continuation for 1 year of the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba is in the national interest of the United States.

Therefore, consistent with the authority vested in me by section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223, I continue for 1 year, until September 14, 2011, the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba, as implemented by the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515.

The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.
September 2, 2010: Presidential Memorandum-Continuation of Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act
… the Cuban people now have not enjoyed freedom for 50 years, and everywhere else in the world you've been seeing a democratization movement that has been pressing forward. Throughout Latin America, democracies have emerged from previously authoritarian regimes. The time has come for the same thing to happen in Cuba.

Now, what we've tried to do is to send a signal that we are open to a new relationship with Cuba if the Cuban government starts taking the proper steps to open up its own country and its own -- and provide the space and the respect for human rights that would allow the Cuban people to determine their own destiny.

I changed the remittance laws so that family members could more easily send money back to Cuba, because that would give them more power and it would create a economic space for them to prosper. Within Cuba we have changed the family travel laws so that they can travel more frequently, as well as laws that relate to educational travel.

And so we've made these modifications that send a signal that we're prepared to show flexibility and not be stuck in a Cold War mentality dating back to when I was born. On the other hand, we have to see a signal back from the Cuban government that it is following through on releasing political prisoners, on providing people their basic human rights, in order for us to be fully engaged with them. And so far, at least, what we haven't seen is the kind of genuine spirit of transformation inside of Cuba that would justify us eliminating the embargo.

I don't know what will happen over the next year, but we are prepared to see what happens in Cuba. If we see positive movement we will respond in a positive way. Hopefully, over the next five years, we will see Cuba looking around the world and saying, we need to catch up with history.
September 28, 2011: Obama, in a question and answer session with U.S. Hispanic media.



President Obama believes that recent changes in Cuba have not been "aggressive enough" to open its economy or reform its political system. “And they certainly have not been aggressive enough when it comes to liberating political prisoners and giving people the opportunity to speak their minds… You are seeing enormous changes taking place in the Middle East just in the span of six months, you are seeing there are almost no authoritarian communist countries left in the world, and here you have this small island that is a throwback to the 60s.”September 13, 2011: Obama, speaking to Spanish-language correspondents in Washington (via BBC: Barack Obama says Cuba's reforms not aggressive enough



Obama on the Economy

Budget
No matter how one looks at it, the 2012 presidential election will be a referendum on the economic policies of the Obama administration. The sub-prime mortgage fiasco of 2007/08 and the resulting recession, which wiped off almost $17 trillion from the wealth of the citizenry, played a prominent part in Senator John McCain’s defeat to President Obama in the 2008 presidential election. The aftereffects of that recession are now threatening to derail the Obama presidency. Things are definitely not looking particularly rosy for the Democrats at the moment, and the tepid job market is certainly not helping.

President Obama is being personally held responsible by a majority of the conservative Republican base for the spiraling federal debt, the unchecked federal deficit of the past three years and the general sense of malaise pervading the psyche of the nation.

However, despite unceasing pressure from GOP lawmakers, President Obama remains unyielding on one of the bulwarks of his 2008 presidential election campaign, which is also one of the principal tenets of his socioeconomic policy – Social Security, along with Medicare and Medicaid.

A myriad set of numbers have been traded across the political spectrum on the size of unfunded entitlement liabilities, with some estimating the figure to be in excess of a hundred trillion dollars, highlighting the urgent need to either revamp or dismantle entitlement programs to fix the budget and in the process, salvage the long-term future of the nation.

However, the Obama administration, with the declared aim of repealing the tax cuts of former President Bush and bringing the federal tax rates back to the 40% level of the Clinton era, is confident that the additional tax revenue and amendments of entitlement programs benefits will restore the fiscal viability of the social net mechanism.

Less one forget, this is a central part of President Obama’s manifesto in the 2008 campaign.

"I will reform our tax code so that it is simple, fair, and advances opportunity, instead of distorting the market by advancing the agenda of some lobbyist or oil company. And I'll use the money to help pay for a middle class tax cut that will provide $1000 dollars of relief… We'll also eliminate income taxes for any retiree making less than $50,000 per year. Because every senior, every senior, deserves to live out their life in dignity and respect… I will never waver in my commitment to protect that basic promise as president. We will not privatize Social Security. We will not raise the retirement age and we will save Social Security for future generations by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share”

Blueprint For Change: Fiscal, Barack Obama’s Campaign Manifesto for the 2008 Election




The key requirement towards a short-term fix for our budget lies with reducing unemployment. Halving of the unemployment rate would see the nation receiving a gross injection of almost $400 billion annually into the economy from direct wages and reduced support costs. The Obama administration claims that they are well on their way towards achieving that, pointing at the recovery of employment figures as a result of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 stimulus spending beginning from February 2009.




Opinions are sharply divided along partisan lines, with legislators trading blows almost daily in the capitol and on the national media.

Deficit and Debts

President Barack Obama has presided over the largest federal budget deficit in the nation’s history, and the federal debt in turn, has skyrocketed into stratospheric levels.

His first full budget, for the period between October 1, 2009 to September 30 2010, showed a net operating deficit of $1.294 trillion. Between Jan 2009 to June 2011, the federal debt grew from $10.6 trillion to $14.3 trillion, an increase of $3.7 trillion. The White House has projected that the federal deficit will peak in 2011, featuring a record breaking $1.645 trillion, before leveling off to sub-$700 billion position starting from 2014.

So how does President Obama reconcile these numbers with the pledge he made in his 2011 State of the Union Address?

“Now the final critical step in winning the future is to make sure that we aren't buried in a mountain of debt. We are living with a legacy of deficit spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people's pockets. But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.

So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. Now this would reduce the deficit by more than four hundred billion dollars over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we've frozen the salaries of hard working federal employees for the next two years. I've proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs.

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”


President Obama’s State of the Union Address


The Obama administration claims that the combination of stimulus, bailouts, lending and other measures adopted by the government effectively prevented a catastrophic economic meltdown that could’ve rivaled the Great Depression itself.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) partially supports the claim. In their Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output From July 2010 Through September 2010 report, the CBO opines that:

• They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.4 percent and
• 4.1 percent,
• Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.8 percentage points and 2.0 percentage points,
• Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.6 million
• Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 2.0 million to 5.2 million

The administration claims were supported further by a report co-written by Mark Zandi, the respected non-partisan Chief Economist of Moody, and former Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman, Alan Blinder.

"The U.S. government’s response to the financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession included some of the most aggressive fiscal and monetary policies in history. The response was multifaceted and bipartisan, involving the Federal Reserve, Congress, and two administrations. Yet almost every one of these policy initiatives remain controversial to this day, with critics calling them misguided, ineffective or both. The debate over these policies is crucial because, with the economy still weak, more government support may be needed, as seen recently in both the extension of unemployment benefits and the Fed’s consideration of further easing.
In this paper, we use the Moody’s Analytics model of the U.S. economy—adjusted to accommodate some recent financial-market policies—to simulate the macroeconomic effects of the government’s total policy response. We find that its effects on real GDP, jobs, and inflation are huge, and probably averted what could have been called Great Depression 2.0. For example, we estimate that, without the government’s response, GDP in 2010 would be about 11.5% lower, payroll employment would be less by some 8½ million jobs, and the nation would now be experiencing deflation… While the effectiveness of any individual element certainly can be debated, there is little doubt that in total, the policy response was highly effective,”


July 27, 2010, How the Great Recession Was Brought to an End (Zandi and Blinder).

Critics, however, charge that the report’s findings were flawed as it was based entirely on Zandi’s econometric modeling. Furthermore, the report was not submitted for peer-review with any scholarly journal, casting further doubts on its methodology and conclusions. Some even contend that the piece was merely a piece of political propaganda.


Policy

Liberal. Socialist. Left Wing. Obamanomics.
These are some of the more prevalent expressions used to describe President Obama. However, on matters concerning the economy at least, his actual philosophy might raise a few eyebrows. In his 2006 bestseller, The Audacity of Hope, Obama remarkably revealed streaks of Reaganomics in his economic perspective. In page 92 of the book, Obama confides,

“In his rhetoric, Reagan tended to exaggerate the degree to which the welfare state had grown over the previous twenty-five years. At its peak, the federal budget as a total share of the U.S. economy remained far below the comparable figures in Western Europe, even when you factored in the enormous U.S. defense budget. Still, the conservative revolution that Reagan helped usher in gained traction because Reagan’s central insight—that the liberal welfare state had grown complacent and overly bureaucratic, with Democratic policy makers more obsessed with slicing the economic pie than with growing the pie—contained a good deal of truth. Just as too many corporate managers, shielded from competition, had stopped delivering value, too many government bureaucracies had stopped asking whether their shareholders (the American taxpayer) and their consumers (the users of government services) were getting their money’s worth.”

His understanding and acceptance of the open market is further illustrated in an interview with the New York Times on August 20, 2008, where economist David Leonhardt reveals,

“… he (Obama) didn’t think President Bush deserved all that much blame for the stagnant incomes of the current decade. Income growth for most families began to slow in the 1970s, and the causes of the great pay slowdown were complex. Obama didn’t name them all, but a decent list would look something like this: new technologies that have made some blue-collar work obsolete; a slowing in the nation’s educational attainment; the shriveling of labor unions; the increase in one-parent families, which are far less economically secure; and the rise of other countries that have huge low-wage work forces.

Obama blamed the current administration for {, he said, was} aggravating these trends with the tax code. To a large extent, Obama’s own economic agenda revolves around reversing Bush’s tax policies and then going a bit further in the other direction. Here, more than in his regulatory approach, Obama stands on the left side of the Democratic Party, but not exactly in the traditional tax-and-spend ways.”


To complicate matters further, Obama appointed Austan Goolsbee, Professor of Economics from the University of Chicago, to head his Council of Economic Advisors. The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago, which is one of the finest economics departments in the world and the force behind the neoclassical Chicago school of economics, is famous for its rejection of the Keynesian macroeconomic theory, which has long been synonymous with the Democratic Party. Obama’s decade-long tenure there as a Constitutional Lecturer would have provided the perfect setting in exposing him to the fundamentals of the neoclassical economic slant of the faculty.

The icing on the cake comes in the form of the Democratic Party economic point-man - Director of the National Economic Council, Senior Fellow at the influential Council of Foreign Relations and the ex- National Economic Adviser of former President Bill Clinton - the progressive, liberal heavyweight, Gene Sperling.

At a glance, Obama looks to have surrounded himself with an array of conflicting economic ideology, and he appears to be the often talked about, but rarely found, progressive-conservative; a believer in the free-market forces, tempered by a liberal social outlook. However, this blend of controlled expansion anchored on a solid center has not been all too evident in his 30 months in office, despite the occasional glimpses. We will revisit this issue once again next year, as the rhetoric dies down and his maturing policy reveals itself more clearly.




Obama on Education

“Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs…

.. Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us -- as citizens, and as parents -- are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed…

… In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders." Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child -- become a teacher. Your country needs you. Of course, the education race doesn't end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American…”
January 24, 2012: President Obama’s State of The Union Address
“Getting the best possible education has never been more important than it is right now. And that’s because in today’s world, a good job requires a good education. I travel all across the country, I go into factories, I go into companies. And it doesn’t matter where you are working, if you do not have a good education you are not going to be able to succeed. And that includes being on the factory floor these days, because most of the equipment is highly technical.

Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require a level of education beyond a high school degree. Which means, obviously, first of all, you can’t drop out of TechBoston. That’s not allowed. All ight? You can’t even think about dropping out. But, can’t even think about it. But even after you graduate, you’re going to need some additional education. And I know that TechBoston is doing an outstanding job of making sure that every student is prepared to go to college.

Unfortunately, the reality is too many students are not prepared across our country. Too many leave school without the skills they need to get a job that pays. Today, as many as a quarter of American students are not finishing high school, a quarter. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. And America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree. We used to be number one, and we’re now number nine. That’s not acceptable.”
March 08, 2011: President Obama speaking at TechBoston Academy in Massachusetts.

“At this defining moment in our history, America faces few more urgent challenges than preparing our children to compete in the global economy. The decisions our leaders make about education in the coming years will shape our future for generations to come. It will help determine not only whether our children have the chance to fulfill their God-given potential or whether our workers have a chance to build a better life for their families, but whether we as a nation will remain in the 21st century the kind of global economic leader that we were in the 20th century. The rising importance of education reflects the new demands of our new world.”
September 9, 2008: Obama offers comprehensive educational plan during a campaign speech in Dayton, Ohio





Obama on Energy

President Obama believes that there are no ‘quick fixes’ to our energy problem, and advocates an ‘all-of-the-above strategy’ involving all available sources of energy. He also points out that current American oil production is the highest it has been in the last eight years and the national foreign energy dependence has dropped below 50% for the first time in more than a decade.
“You know there are no quick fixes to this problem, and you know we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices. If we’re going to take control of our energy future and avoid these gas price spikes down the line, then we need a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – oil, gas, wind, solar, nuclear, biofuels, and more. We need to keep developing the technology that allows us to use less oil in our cars and trucks; in our buildings and plants. That’s the strategy we’re pursuing, and that’s the only real solution to this challenge.

Now, we absolutely need safe, responsible oil production here in America. That’s why under my Administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. In 2010, our dependence on foreign oil was under 50% for the first time in more than a decade. And while there are no short-term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices, I’ve directed my administration to look for every single area where we can make an impact and help consumers in the months ahead, from permitting to delivery bottlenecks to what’s going on in the oil markets. But over the long term, an all-of-the-above energy strategy means we have to do more. It means we have to make some choices.”
February 25, 2012: Weekly Address - An All-Of-The-Above Approach to American Energy

Obama also believes that oil companies are receiving unnecessary subsidies from the American taxpayers even as they continue to reap huge profits. He believes those funds should instead be directed towards the development of alternative energy sources.
Here’s one example. Right now, four billion of your tax dollars subsidize the oil industry every year. Four billion dollars. Imagine that. Maybe some of you are listening to this in your car right now, pulling into a gas station to fill up. As you watch those numbers rise, know that oil company profits have never been higher. Yet somehow, Congress is still giving those same companies another four billion dollars of your money. That’s outrageous. It’s inexcusable. And it has to stop.

A century of subsidies to the oil companies is long enough. It’s time to end taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s never been more profitable, and use that money to reduce our deficit and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Because of the investments we’ve already made, the use of wind and solar energy in this country has nearly doubled – and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it. And because we put in place the toughest fuel economy standards in history, our cars will average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade – something that, over time, will save the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump. Now Congress needs to keep that momentum going by renewing the clean energy tax credits that will lead to more jobs and less dependence on foreign oil.

Look, we know there’s no silver bullet that will bring down gas prices or reduce our dependence on foreign oil overnight. But what we can do is get our priorities straight, and make a sustained, serious effort to tackle this problem. That’s the commitment we need right now. And with your help, it’s a commitment we can make. Thank you.
February 25, 2012: Weekly Address - An All-Of-The-Above Approach to American Energy

“I have directed my administration to look for every single area where we can make an impact and help consumers in the months ahead, from permitting to delivery bottlenecks to what’s going on in the oil markets. We’re going to look at every single aspect of gas prices, because we know the burden that it’s putting on consumers. And we will keep taking as many steps as we can in the coming weeks…

… We’re launching a program that will bring together the nation’s best scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs to figure out how more cars can be powered by natural gas, a fuel that’s cleaner and cheaper and more abundant than oil. We’ve got more of that. We don’t have to import it. We may be exporting it soon.

We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance—algae. You’ve got a bunch of algae out here, right? If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we’ll be doing all right.

Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in the United States. And that means greater energy security. That means lower costs. It means more jobs. It means a stronger economy.”
February 23, 2012: Obama speaking to students during a visit to the University of Miami



Graphic: Obama’s New Fuel Economy Standard

Fuel Economy Standards infographic, small

July 29, 2011: President Obama announcing the next phase in his Administration’s program to increase fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the country. These new standards will cover cars and light trucks for Model Years 2017-2025


Obama on the Environment

• Obama said, "So we have a choice to make. We can remain one of the world's leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that would allow us to become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy. We can let climate change continue to go unchecked, or we can help stop it. We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for lasting prosperity."

• Obama is working towards reducing the carbon pollution which he sees as a threat to our climate and will perpetuate the dependence on fossil fuels. Obama lists out his policies to close the carbon loophole and imposing stringent measures on carbon polluters.

• Obama believes that carbon pollution can be put at check through a market based cap. This is not only an environmentally friendly measure, but will address certain energy challenges too. The income that is generated in the process of closing the carbon loophole will be returned to the people, especially those families, communities and business which are vulnerable.

• Obama also exhorted to save the future generations from a catastrophe of global proportions by spelling out an energy plan wherein the carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced.

• "We've been talking about climate change in Washington for years and energy independence and efficiency for years," Obama said. "But no matter how many scientists testified about greenhouse gases, no matter how much evidence that they're threatening our coasts and endangering our weather patterns, nothing happened with global warming until now."


Obama on Foreign Affairs

• Obama speaks about providing a visionary leadership and the need to renew the US global leadership position through proper foreign policy, a renewed military along with a need to confront the proliferation of the nuclear arsenal. The question of nuclear proliferation is "the most urgent threat to the security of America and the world."

• "This century's threats are at least as dangerous as and in some ways more complex than those we have confronted in the past. They come from weapons that can kill on a mass scale and from global terrorists who respond to alienation or perceived injustice with murderous nihilism. They come from rogue states allied to terrorists and from rising powers that could challenge both America and the international foundation of liberal democracy. They come from weak states that cannot control their territory or provide for their people. And they come from a warming planet that will spur new diseases, spawn more devastating natural disasters, and catalyze deadly conflicts."

• "After Iraq, we may be tempted to turn inward. That would be a mistake. The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew. We must bring the war to a responsible end and then renew our leadership -- military, diplomatic, moral -- to confront new threats and capitalize on new opportunities. America cannot meet this century's challenges alone; the world cannot meet them without America."

• Barack Obama's most important foreign policy is with respect to the question of Iraq. Obama envisages a regional conference involving Iran and Syria as part of the strategy to find an ultimate solution to the Iraq question.


Obama on Guantanamo

General Policy On Guantanamo

Despite President Obama’s campaign pledge of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and his Executive Order to that effect issued two days after his inauguration, it is increasingly apparent that GITMO is here to stay. However, his promise of halting ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ in the camp has been fulfilled courtesy of his Executive Order issued on January 22, 2009.
“Section 3: Closure of Detention Facilities at Guantánamo
The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order. If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”
January 22, 2009; Executive Order No: 13492, Signed by President Barack Obama

President Obama continues to face strong resistance in Congress on the subject of GITMO’s closure. The scheduled withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq signals the imminent closure of several Army and CIA detention facilities in those countries, which raises an increasing demand for an alternate detention facility for the prisoners held there– a further obstacle to Obama’s plan. He appeared to have accepted the inevitable with the signing of a new Executive Order on March 7, 2011, which extended the shelf-life of GITMO indefinitely.
“… in order to ensure that military detention of individuals now held at the U.S. Naval Station, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (Guantánamo), who were subject to the interagency review under section 4 of Executive Order 13492 of January 22, 2009, continues to be carefully evaluated and justified, consistent with the national security…

Section 1: Scope and Purpose.
(a) The periodic review described in section 3 of this order applies only to those detainees held at Guantánamo on the date of this order, whom the interagency review established by Executive Order 13492 has (i) designated for continued law of war detention; or (ii) referred for prosecution, except for those detainees against whom charges are pending or a judgment of conviction has been entered.
(b) This order is intended solely to establish, as a discretionary matter, a process to review on a periodic basis the executive branch's continued, discretionary exercise of existing detention authority in individual cases…

Section 2: Standard for Continued Detention.
Continued law of war detention is warranted for a detainee subject to the periodic review in Section 3 of this order if it is necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States.

Section 3: Periodic Review
The Secretary of Defense shall coordinate a process of periodic review of continued law of war detention for each detainee described in section 1(a) of this order. In consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense shall issue implementing guidelines governing the process…”
March 7, 2011; Executive Order No: 13567, Signed by President Barack Obama

On Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

Oppose
“Waterboarding is torture. It’s contrary to America’s traditions, it’s contrary to our ideals, that’s not who we are, that’s not how we operate. We don’t need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism. We did the right thing by ending that practice. If we want to lead around the world, part of our leadership is setting a good example… And anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture and that’s not something we do. Period.”
November 15, 2011; President Obama responding to a question on waterboarding in a press conference during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Kapolei, Hawaii.



“Section 6: Humane Standards of Confinement
No individual currently detained at Guantánamo shall be held in the custody or under the effective control of any officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or at a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, except in conformity with all applicable laws governing the conditions of such confinement, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The Secretary of Defense shall immediately undertake a review of the conditions of detention at Guantánamo to ensure full compliance with this directive. Such review shall be completed within 30 days and any necessary corrections shall be implemented immediately thereafter.”
January 22, 2009; Executive Order No: 13492, Signed by President Barack Obama

“Section 1.Revocation.Executive Order 13440 of July 20, 2007, is revoked. All executive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, including but not limited to those issued to or by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from September 11, 2001, to January 20, 2009, concerning detention or the interrogation of detained individuals, are revoked to the extent of their inconsistency with this order...

Sec. 3.Standards and Practices for Interrogation of Individuals in the Custody or Control of the United States in Armed Conflicts.
(a)Common Article 3 Standards as a Minimum Baseline.Consistent with the requirements of the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340–2340A, section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, and other laws regulating the treatment and interrogation of individuals detained in any armed conflict, such persons 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), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States.
(b)Interrogation Techniques and Interrogation-Related Treatment.Effective immediately, an individual in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in any armed conflict, shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2–22.3 (Manual)… Nothing in this section shall preclude the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or other Federal law enforcement agencies, from continuing to use authorized, non-coercive techniques of interrogation that are designed to elicit voluntary statements and do not involve the use of force, threats, or promises.

Sec. 4.Prohibition of Certain Detention Facilities, and Red Cross Access to Detained Individuals.
(a)CIA Detention.The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.”
January 22, 2009; Executive Order No: 13491, Signed by President Barack Obama


Obama on Gun Control

The Second Amendment: Individual or Collective Right?

Obama agrees to an individual's right to bear arms, in principle, but does not take it as an absolute right and considers it as a negotiable subject.

“I think it’s important for us to recognize that we’ve got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally. And a lot of law-abiding citizens use it for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families. We also have a violence on the streets that is the result of illegal handgun usage. And so I think there is nothing wrong with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets. And cracking down on the various loopholes that exist in terms of background checks for children, the mentally ill. We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure that I think respect the Second Amendment and people’s traditions.”
April 16, 2008, Democratic Primary Debate, National Constitution Center in Philadelphia


Legislations

“I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe”
Obama commenting on the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling of upholding an individual’s right to bear arms and revoking a handgun legislation in Washington, D.C
June 26, 2008, Associated Press


"As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can't constrain the exercise of that right."
April 16, 2008, Democratic Primary Debate, National Constitution Center in Philadelphia




Obama on Health Care

Health care was one of the centerpieces of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, and with the backing of a Democrat-dominated Congress, his landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was signed into law after a hard-fought battle with Republican legislators. The Act introduced comprehensive reforms on national health care legislations and will eventually expand coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans.


The Obama-Biden Plan

On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes -- government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong, and that’s why they’ve proposed a plan that strengthens employer coverage, makes insurance companies accountable and ensures patient choice of doctor and care without government interference.

The Obama-Biden plan provides affordable, accessible health care for all Americans, builds on the existing health care system, and uses existing providers, doctors, and plans. Under the Obama-Biden plan, patients will be able to make health care decisions with their doctors, instead of being blocked by insurance company bureaucrats.

Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year. If you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options.


The Office of the President Elect, Change.gov; The Obama-Biden Transition Team



“Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied –- health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. Today.

It is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week. For as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America. In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.

And while the Senate still has a last round of improvements to make on this historic legislation -- and these are improvements I’m confident they will make swiftly - the bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for, and marched for, and hungered to see.

It will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly. We need to get this right. But a host of desperately needed reforms will take effect right away.

This year, we’ll start offering tax credits to about 4 million small businessmen and women to help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees. That happens this year.
This year, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need. That happens this year.

This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people’s coverage when they get sick. They won’t be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive.

This year, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care. And this year, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26 years old. That happens this year.

And this year, seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will start getting some help. They’ll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions, and that will, over time, fill in the doughnut hole. And I want seniors to know, despite what some have said, these reforms will not cut your guaranteed benefits. In fact, under this law, Americans on Medicare will receive free preventive care without co-payments or deductibles. That begins this year.

Once this reform is implemented, health insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace where uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable, quality insurance. They will be able to be part of a big pool and get the same good deal that members of Congress get. That’s what’s going to happen under this reform.

And when this exchange is up and running, millions of people will get tax breaks to help them afford coverage, which represents the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history. That's what this reform is about.

This legislation will also lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades. It is paid for. It is fiscally responsible. And it will help lift a decades-long drag on our economy. That's part of what all of you together worked on and made happen.

That our generation is able to succeed in passing this reform is a testament to the persistence –- and the character -– of the American people, who championed this cause; who mobilized; who organized; who believed that people who love this country can change it.

It’s also a testament to the historic leadership -– and uncommon courage –- of the men and women of the United States Congress, who’ve taken their lumps during this difficult debate.”

March 23, 2010: Remarks by President Obama at the signing of the Health Insurance Reform Bill




Obama on Immigration

Immigration: Yea or Nae
Yea.
“In recent days the issue of immigration has become once more a source of fresh contention in our country with the passage of a controversial law in Arizona and the heated reactions we’ve seen across America… Given the levels of frustration across the country, this is understandable, but it is also ill-conceived… Our task … is to make our national laws actually work, to shape a system that reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants… And that means being honest about the problem and getting past the false debates that divide the country rather than bring it together… Contrary to some of the reports that you see, crime along the border is down. And statistics collected by Customs and Border Protection reflect a significant reduction in the number of people trying to cross the border illegally… Finally, we have to demand responsibility from people living here illegally… They must be required to admit that they broke the law. They should be required to register, pay their taxes, pay a fine and learn English… They must get right with the law before they can get in line and earn their citizenship.”
July 1, 2011, Speaking at the American University’s School of International Service in Washington

On Amnesty
“If the majority of Americans are skeptical of a blanket amnesty, they are also skeptical that it is possible to round up and deport 11 million people. They know it’s not possible. Such an effort would be logistically impossible and wildly expensive. Moreover, it would tear at the very fabric of this nation—because immigrants who are here illegally are now intricately woven into that fabric. Many have children who are American citizens. Some are children themselves, brought here by their parents at a very young age, growing up as American kids, only to discover their illegal status when they apply for college or a job.”
July 1, 2011, Speaking at the American University’s School of International Service in Washington

On Deportation
“We have a system right now that allows the best and the brightest to come and study in America, and then tells them to leave, set up the next great company someplace else. We have a system that tolerates immigrants and businesses that breaks the rules and punishes those that follows the rules. We have a system that separates families, and punishes innocent young people for their parents’ actions by denying them the chance to earn an education or contribute to our economy or serve in our military… These are the laws on the books. I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know very well the real pain and heartbreak that deportations cost. I share your concerns, and I understand them. And I promise you we are responding to your concern and working every day to make sure we are enforcing flawed laws in the most humane and best possible way.”
July 25, 2011, Obama speaking at the National Council of La Raza event in Washington



On Legislation
“We need immigration reform that will secure our borders, and punish employers who exploit immigrant labor; reform that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows by requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.”
Jun 28, 2008, Obama speaking at the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials conference in Washington

U.S. Mexico Border Fence
“So here’s the point. I want everybody to listen carefully to this. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done. But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time. You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics.”
May 10, 2011, Obama speaking at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas


Clockwise from top left: Secondary border fence between San Diego sector & Tijuana; Levee-Wall at Hidalgo County, Texas; Vehicle fence in El Paso, New Mexico; and pedestrian fence Eagle Pass, Texas



Obama on Iran

"Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries.
That's what Kennedy did with Krushchev, that's what Reagan did with Gorbachev, that's what Nixon did with Mao.
I mean, think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuele - these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet, we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union, at the time they were saying we're gonna wipe you off the planet. And ultimately that direct engagement led to a series of measures that help prevent nuclear war, and over time, allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall. Now, that has to be the kind of approach that we take.

We shouldn't be afraid. You know, Iran spend one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever posed a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance. And we should use that position of strength that we have to be bold enough to go ahead and listen. That doesn't mean we agree with them on everything. We might not compromise on any issues. But at least we should find out are there areas of potential common interest, and we can reduce some of the tensions that have caused us so many problems around the world"




Obama on Israel

• Barack Obama states that the only way for Israel to achieve peace with their neighbors is to "begin with a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel".

• Obama criticized those who denied the Holocaust, yet he supports talks with the Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who also denies the holocaust and eventually promises that a new one would come.

• Obama has praised past Israeli leaders for their kind gestures of peace towards Palestinians but refused to recognize their earlier attempts that led to violence and death of Israelis.

• Barack Obama mentions that he is in support of resumption of the aid to the Palestinian government with a condition that the government 'renounces terrorism'.

• Obama opines thus, "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people." He has declared recently in his speech ?our enemies are not just terrorists, it's not just Hezbollah, it's not just Hamas, and it?s also cynicism."

• Obama contends that there is a need to preserve Israel as a Jewish state though it has its politicians and its security as well.

• With regard to the security of Israel Barack Obama stated, "you will not see, under my presidency, any slackening in commitment to Israel?s security."

• Obama stood strong with regard to Israel's right to defend itself from the rocket attacks and raids of Hezbollah.

• He hates characterization and rejects the term apartheid in any discussion with regard to Israel's progress.



Obama on the Minimum Wage

President Obama is a strong advocate of raising the federal minimum wage. In 2008, he announced the goal of increasing the federal minimum wage by a whopping 31% to $9.50 by 2011. He has unfortunately failed to meet the objective until today.
Raise the Minimum Wage to $9.50 an Hour by 2011: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that people who work full-time should not live in poverty. Even though the minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage's real purchasing power will still be below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama will further raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing -- things so many people take for granted.
The Agenda, Change.gov; The Office of the President Elect
“As the homecare business has changed over the years, the law hasn’t changed to keep up. So even though workers like Pauline do everything from bathing to cooking, they’re still lumped in the same category as teenage babysitters when it comes to how much they make. That means employers are allowed to pay these workers less than minimum wage with no overtime.

That’s right. You can wake up at 5:00 in the morning, care for somebody every minute of the day, take the late bus home at night, and still make less than the minimum wage. And this means that many homecare workers are forced to rely on things like food stamps just to make ends meet.

That’s just wrong. In this country, it’s unexcusable. I can tell you firsthand that these men and women, they work their tails off, and they don’t complain. They deserve to be treated fairly. They deserve to be paid fairly for a service that many older Americans couldn’t live without. And companies who do pay fair wages to these women shouldn’t be put at a disadvantage.”
December 15, 2011, Eisenhower Executive Office Building: President Obama announcing a new legislation that ensures the 1.8 million home-care workers in the country are accorded the minimum wage and overtime protections offered under the Fair Labor Standards Act.




Obama on National Security

• He voted against the original Patriot Act of 2001 and later for bills reauthorizing the act as a compromise, believing the new version is still better than what the White House originally proposed and does modestly improve the Patriot Act by strengthening civil liberty protection without sacrificing the tools that law enforcement needs to keep us safe.

• Obama wants Homeland Security money targeted more towards high-risk areas such as nuclear facilities, chemical plants and ports.

•• He introduced legislation to enhance disaster preparedness and to strengthen the security of chemical plants and drinking water security.

• He wants more quality tracking of nuclear technology and spent nuclear fuel so that it doesn't end up in terrorist hands.

• When asked to describe the Obama doctrine for the use of force when there was no security issue in the offing, he replied, "Well, we may not always have national security issues at stake, but we have moral issues at stake."

• When asked, during his presidential interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, to explain a national security situation when it was appropriate to lie to the American people, Obama was of the opinion, "I don't think it's appropriate to lie. I mean, you can put together a hypothetical where there is a national security emergency that is imminent. And you don?t want to provide, for example, the location of our troops. You don't have to lie in those situations. You simply say, "We're not answering questions."

• Barack Obama thinks that the problems of terrorism are one of the most terrible threats that the US faces.

• "The way we have to approach the problem of Islamic extremism, is we have to hunt down those who would resort to violence to move their ideology forward. We should be going after al Qaeda and those networks fiercely and effectively," stated Obama on CNN Late Edition July 13th 2008.

• Human rights and national security are complementary, stated Obama when he was questioned about whether human rights were more important than American national security.

• Laura Flanders on 11th November 2007 quoted Obama saying, "The threat that we face now is nowhere near as dire as it was in the Cold War. We shouldn?t allow our politics to be driven by the fear of terrorism."


Obama on North Korea

Obama considers South Korea as an important ally and is strongly against North Korea acts of aggression towards them. He is also opposed to North Korea’s nuclear program, but prefers a consultative approach with our allies to address the issue.

“South Korea is our ally. It has been since the Korean War and we strongly affirm our commitment to defend South Korea as part of that alliance… Well, I’m not going to speculate on military actions at this point. I want to consult with President Lee.”
November 23, 2010: President Obama responding to North Korea’s artillery attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island.

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“North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program posed a grave threat to the peace and security of the world and I strongly condemn their reckless action. North Korea’s action endangers the people of North East Asia. They are a blatant violation of international law, and they contradict North Korea’s own prior commitments.

Now the United States and the international community must take action in response. The record’s clear – North Korea has previously committed to abandoning its nuclear program. Instead of following through on that commitment, it has chosen to ignore that commitment. Its actions have also flown in the face of United Nations resolutions. As a result, North Korea is not only deepening its isolation, it’s also inviting stronger international pressure. That’s evident overnight, as Russia and China, as well as our traditional allies of South Korea and Japan have all come to the same conclusion – North Korea will not find security and respect through threats and illegal weapons.

We will work with our friends and allies to stand up to this behavior and we will redouble our efforts towards a more robust international non-proliferation regime that all countries have responsibilities to meet. In this effort, the United States will never waver from our determination to protect our people and the peace and security of the world. “

May 25, 2009: President Obama responding to North Korea’s nuclear weapons test





Obama on the Palestinian Issue

• Obama has already angered Palestinians by saying that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided." Obama has had to backtrack, but Palestinians and Israelis have been left wondering if he really understands the complexity of their situation.

• While Obama was talking to a group of Democrats he stated that "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people."?

• Obama strongly states that the smuggling of weapons and ammunitions to Gaza should be put to a stop completely.

• He also proclaimed that "America is committed to Israel's security. And we will always support Israel's right to defend it self against legitimate threats."

• Obama is full of praise for Jordan and its "constructive role in training Palestinian security forces and nurturing its relations with Israel"

• Obama states that "As a part of a lasting cease fire, Gaza?s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime."

• Two statements that he made have really made an impact and they are (1) "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." and (2) the Palestinians should have a "state of their own."

• During his interview with the 'Atlantic', Obama proclaimed that the concept of a Jewish state is "fundamentally just." He feels that USA should reinforce the hands of Palestinian moderates.

• He strongly supports on fully funding military assistance to Israel and on cooperating with Israel on the growth of the Arrow missile defense system.

• He called America's 'strong bond' with Israel 'unbreakable' and stated that "it is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied."


Obama on Poverty

“Our economy plunged into recession almost three years ago on the heels of a financial meltdown and a rapid decline in housing prices. Last year we saw the depths of the recession, including historic losses in employment not witnessed since the Great Depression. Today, the Census Bureau released data that illustrates just how tough 2009 was: along with rising unemployment, incomes failed to rise for the typical household, the percentage of Americans without health insurance rose to 16.7 percent, and the percentage of Americans living in poverty increased to 14.3 percent.

But the data released today also remind us that a historic recession does not have to translate into historic increases in family economic insecurity. Because of the Recovery Act and many other programs providing tax relief and income support to a majority of working families – and especially those most in need – millions of Americans were kept out of poverty last year.

The substantial expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) helped inoculate our children from the economic distress experienced by their parents, as there was little change in the percentage of children without health insurance. The Affordable Care Act will build on that success by expanding health insurance coverage to more families.

Even before the recession hit, middle class incomes had been stagnant and the number of people living in poverty in America was unacceptably high, and today’s numbers make it clear that our work is just beginning. Our task now is to continue working together to improve our schools, build the skills of our workers, and invest in our nation’s critical infrastructure.

For all of our challenges, I continue to be inspired by the dedication and optimism of America’s workers, and I am confident that we will emerge from this storm with a stronger economy.”
September 16, 2010: Statement by President Obama on Income, Poverty, and Health Coverage Data
"... Finally, the last thing I just want to -- want to point out is on the issue of work and poverty. One of the things that happened after welfare reform was that we made sure that everybody had to work at some point. Unfortunately, we didn't lift them out of poverty. We have got a lot of people who work and are still impoverished. And so we've got to make work pay. That means that we've got to increase the minimum wage. "
June 4, 2007: Sojourners Presidential Forum on Faith, Values, and Poverty, for Democratic presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama), George Washington University.


“Today’s steps build on the successes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by President Obama last February. The ARRA:
• Modernized and Expanded Unemployment Insurance: The recovery act included an unprecedented investment in unemployment benefits, including up to 79 weeks of benefits in the hardest-hit areas, a $25-a-week supplement to benefits, and incentives for states to expand coverage to part-time workers and take other steps to modernize their unemployment systems. The law also cut taxes on up to $2,400 in unemployment benefits and created a tax credit that pays 65 percent of health insurance premiums for unemployed workers. These provisions helped keep 800,000 people out of poverty, according to estimates developed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.”
November 6, 2009; White House Press Release: Fact Sheet: The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009
“And today, I’m announcing our new U.S. Global Development Policy -- the first of its kind by an American administration. It’s rooted in America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being. And it outlines our new approach and the new thinking that will guide our overall development efforts, including the plan that I promised last year and that my administration has delivered to pursue the Millennium Development Goals. Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business.

First, we’re changing how we define development. For too long, we’ve measured our efforts by the dollars we spent and the food and medicines that we delivered. But aid alone is not development. Development is helping nations to actually develop -- moving from poverty to prosperity. And we need more than just aid to unleash that change. We need to harness all the tools at our disposal -- from our diplomacy to our trade policies to our investment policies.

Second, we are changing how we view the ultimate goal of development. Our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn’t always improved those societies over the long term. Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That’s not development, that’s dependence, and it’s a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty.

Now, let me be clear, the United States of America has been, and will remain, the global leader in providing assistance. We will not abandon those who depend on us for life-saving help, whether it’s food or medicine. We will keep our promises and honor our commitments.”
September 22, 2010: Remarks at the Millennium Development Goals Summit, United Nations Headquarters, New York


Obama on Prescription Drugs

The Obama administration unveiled the 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan last year to combat prescription drug abuse. The four-pronged program expands upon the National Drug Control Strategy in an attempt to reduce prescription drug abuse:

Education
A crucial first step in tackling the problem of prescription drug abuse is to educate parents, youth, and patients about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs, while requiring prescribers to receive education on the appropriate and safe use, and proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs.
Monitoring
Implement prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in every state to reduce “doctor shopping” and diversion, and enhance PDMPs to make sure they can share data across states and are used by healthcare providers.
Proper Medication Disposal
Develop convenient and environmentally responsible prescription drug disposal programs to help decrease the supply of unused prescription drugs in the home.
Enforcement
Provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to eliminate improper prescribing practices and stop pill mills.






• One of the main proposals of Barack Obama with regards to prescription drugs is to grant permission to the citizens of America to buy safe prescription drugs from other developed countries if the cost is comparatively less. This is in cognizance of the fact that the prices of prescription drugs in America are not only higher but are also constantly on the rise.

• Obama has also proposed lifting of the ban which prevents the Federal Government from negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies with the intention of lowering the prices on the prescription drugs.

• Since prescription drugs are mostly used by the elderly segment of the population under the Medicare plan, Obama has proposed that it should be mandatory on part of all insurance providers providing Medicare to keep their seekers informed about the names of prescription drugs which they use and the payment which they make every year.

• Obama has also forwarded the proposal to close the infamous 'doughnut hole' which has been mentioned in the Medicare part D prescription drug program. This is because the 'doughnut hole' causes the people to incur medical expenditure to the tune of thousands of dollars as it represents a gap in coverage between a lower and a higher amount.

• Through his new proposals, Obama intends to prevent pharmaceutical companies from blocking the introduction of safe and economical generic drugs into the market.

• The new proposals with regards to Medicare prescription drug programs are meant to enable the senior citizens to choose a healthcare plan which would not only help to maintain their good health but would also cost relatively less thus resulting in savings.


Obama on Same Sex Issues

Obama is fundamentally supportive towards the LGBT community, but admits to internal conflicts in reconciling his social and religious beliefs.

Update: President Obama publicly announced his endorsement of same-sex marriage during the taping of an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts on May 9, 2012.








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“… I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient. I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious belief. But I have to tell you that, over the course of several years as I talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘Don't Ask Don't Tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage - at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.




It's interesting, some of this is also generational. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we're talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently. It doesn't make sense to them and, frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

Did you discuss this with Mrs. Obama, the same sex marriage issue? No, no, this is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people. We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule; treat others the way you would want to be treated.”



Obama On LGBT
For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it's clear that they feel victimized in fairly powerful ways and they're often hurt by not just certain teachings of the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally. And as a Christian, I'm constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for gays and lesbians.
July 2, 2009: President Obama's session with journalists from the Roman Catholic news media

Obama on Marriage
“It's a union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it is a sacred union. God's in the mix…

… Historically, because historically, we have not defined marriage in our constitution. It’s been a matter of state law that has been our tradition.
August 16, 2008: Obama speaking to Reverend Rick Warren during the Saddleback Civil Forum in Lake Forest, California



Obama on Civil Unions
“I would’ve supported and continued to support a civil union that provides all benefits that are available for a legally sanctioned marriage. And it is then, as I’ve said, up to religious denominations to make a determination as to whether they want to recognized that as marriage or not…

… But I would also say this, that if I were advising the civil rights movement back in 1961 about its approach to civil rights, I would have probably said it's less important that we focus on an anti-miscegenation law than we focus on a voting rights law and a non-discrimination and employment law and all the legal rights that are conferred by the state.

Now, it's not for me to suggest that you shouldn't be troubled by these issues. I understand that and I'm sympathetic to it. But my job as president is going to be to make sure that the legal rights that have consequences on a day to day basis for loving same sex couples all across the country, that those rights are recognized and enforced by my White House and by my Justice Department.”
August 9, 2007: Obama speaking at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation-organized forum, LOGO
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Obama on the Persecution of LGBT Youths
Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives. As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart. It’s something that just shouldn’t happen in this country.

We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage – that it’s some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe forall of our kids. And to every young person out there you need to know that if you’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help.

I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong. It’s tough. And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart – I know can just wear on you. And when you’re teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself – for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else.

But what I want to say is this. You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied. And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. And so, if you ever feel like because of bullying, because of what people are saying, that you’re getting down on yourself, you’ve got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. Whether it’s your parents, teachers, folks that you know care about you just the way you are. You’ve got to reach out to them, don’t feel like you’re in this by yourself.

The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.
October 21, 2010: Obama speaking in support of the It Gets Better project for LGBT youths.



Obama Including LGBT Rights As Part of His Foreign Policy Objectives
“No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.

And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week the United States signed a new Declaration on Women's Participation. Next year we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. This is what our commitment to human progress demands.”
September 21, 2011: Obama addressing the United Nations General Assembly, New York

Obama on DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)

A decision by the Senate (65-31) to repeal the DADT was met with approval by the White House.
“Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend. By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.

As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known. And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness.

I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Senators Lieberman and Collins and the countless others who have worked so hard to get this done. It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly. I urge the Senate to send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.”
December 18, 2010: A statement by Obama

Obama on ‘Defense of Marriage Act’

1996 Defense of Marriage Act

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

Obama believes that the DoMA is unconstitutional, and has directed his administration to stop defending the Act in court, although they will continue to enforce it until Congress repeals the act.
“After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases.”
February 23, 2011: Statement by Attorney-General Eric Holder


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