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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Obama’s first year in office: A consideration

Today marks the one-year anniversary of 44th President Barack Obama’s inauguration into office on Jan. 20, 2009. After a year marked by both problems and successes for the new president, here is a brief consideration of the key issues during the first quarter of President Obama’s term.

When President Obama took his oath as president, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 7.7 percent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10 percent of the U.S. work force is currently unemployed. Immediately following his election, President-elect Obama pledged to create 2.5 million jobs by January 2011. His $787 billion stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has created just over 640,000 jobs as of Dec. 1, 2009 according to a report on CNNMoney.com. While President Obama’s ambitions are well-placed, and more time will better show the success of his job-creation plan, the unemployment rate is still rising. Spending has also not been halted even as more Americans are losing their jobs: the total public outstanding debt on Jan. 20, 2009, was $10.6 trillion according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Today, that sum is more than $12.2 trillion.

In October 2007, Obama said he would be removing all combat troops within 16 months. As of Feb. 2009, President Obama said all troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011. In

November, he issued orders to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. While his intention is to have all U.S. troops out of Iraq less than one year from now , a war in Afghanistan is still a war. And this man campaigned for peace. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, 4,377 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom as of 10 a.m. Tuesday. And 950 have been killed in Operation Enduring Freedom, which the Department describes as “”in and around Afghanistan.””

The issue of national health care has also been a major one for President Obama. He did not get his health care bill passed before the new year, and his passage of that bill may hinge on yesterday’s Senate race in Massachusetts for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Legislation on the health care bill continues, though certainly not as smoothly as the president would have liked.

President Obama’s approval rating has also been falling steadily; it is hard to retain the gloss of “”yes we can”” when “”can’t”” becomes a reality. The number of people who strongly approve of President Obama has dropped 12 percent in the last year according to Rasmussen Polls.

Many of the points on which Obama campaigned have been lost in the last year of difficult legislation and budget woes. Immigration reform and the cap-and-trade plan have both seen little progress.

The President’s biggest success has been his recent work dealing with the Haitian people after the devastating earthquake of Jan. 12. He has granted Temporary Protected Status that will allow about 100,000 Haitians to stay legally in the U.S. for 18 months, and more than 10,000 U.S. military personnel are on their way to Haiti to offer aid and relief.

President Obama has struggled to live up to campaign claims and to tackle the difficult issues with which he is faced. As he heads into his sophomore year as Commander in Chief, the President must remain diligent to his previous goals as he faces a job that seems much more difficult than he anticipated.

— Anna Swenson is an English sophomore and the opinions editor. She can be reached at

letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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