With the country (or, at least, the media) breathlessly awaiting the 100th day of Barack Obama’s presidency this week, April 29 has pretty much been billed “The Day Of Judgment” for the new President. And with the sweeping agenda that Mr. Obama has ushered in over these past few months, he has given us plenty to talk about.
So far President Obama has ordered the closure of Guantamo Bay detention center, set an 18-month timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq, reversed the federal ban on funding stem cell research, made it easier to sue employers for job discrimination, extended healthcare coverage to millions of uninsured children, demanded limits on the gas emissions allowed from cars and trucks, called for health care reform, eased travel restrictions to Cuba and assigned an envoy to help bring peace to Darfur.
This is all, of course, in addition to tackling the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. His $787 billion economic stimulus act (the biggest spending bill in American history), a mix of spending and tax cuts, put money toward infrastructure, energy efficiency and increased aid for the unemployed. His massive $3.6 trillion federal budget focused on “long-term investments” to vastly reform American education, energy independence and health care.
Needless to say, all this change hasn’t been popular. Despite his early hopes of bipartisanship, Obama has emerged as one of the most politically polarizing presidents ever among Democrats and Republicans. According to a Pew Research Center poll, Democrats give him an 93 percent job approval, but Republicans a low 30 percent (and practically zero support for his policies). With concerns about Obama’s spending and its effect on the deficit, along with some less logical accusations that he’s a socialist, thousands rallied around the country this month for “tea party” protests against his policies. Three months into the Obama administration, Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry has even gone so far as to suggest that his state secede from the union, and escape the “oppressive” federal government.
On the other hand, President Obama’s ratings among Americans overall are pretty good. The same Pew Research Center poll shows that his job approval stands at 63%, with only 26% of those polled saying they disapprove of how he’s handling the job. Seven in 10 said they liked Obama, the man. And even though the effectiveness of his policies largely still remain to be seen, 61 percent said that his performance in office has met their expectations, signaling patience and a recognition that things are not going to improve overnight.
Criticized throughout the campaign as being too inexperienced to handle the responsibilities and power of being the President of the United States, Obama has stepped into the role without hesitation or timidness. Whether we all agree with his decisions or not, he has kept extraordinarily busy these past 98 days, yielding something noteworthy or meaningful almost every day, to hold to his promise of change. And although it will take longer than 100 days to know whether these decisions made by the President were successful, Wednesday will nonethless be a critical milestone.
What do you think of the job President Obama has done so far?