Jonathan Wesiman’s “Democrats’ Quiet Changes Pile Up” in The Wall St. Journal takes an insightful look at some of the more impressive ‘below the radar’ progressive reforms President Obama has secured so far, with the support of the Democratic majorities in Congress. Weisman explains:
Last week, Mr. Obama signed defense-policy legislation that included an unrelated measure widening federal hate-crimes laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identification — 12 years after it was first introduced. The same legislation also tightened the rules of admissible evidence for military commissions, an issue that consumed Congress in debate in 2007 but received almost no attention this go-round.
Other new measures signed into law since the administration took office, all of which kicked up controversy in past congresses, make it easier for women to sue for equal pay, set aside land in the West from development, give the government the power to regulate tobacco and raise tobacco taxes to expand health insurance for children. Congress and the White House, in the new defense-policy bill, also killed weapons programs that have survived earlier attempts at termination, among them, the F-22 fighter jet, the VH-71 presidential helicopter and the Army’s Future Combat System.
Not a bad tally for less than 9 months on the job, particularly in comparison the limited positive accomplishments of the previous train-wreck that careened through the White House for 8 years. it’s not hard to imagine conservative defenders of tobacco, insurance and timber companies, along with military contractors, fuming at these achievements. Give the Obama Administration credit for astute management of its broader legislative agenda and outflanking the GOP obstructionist machine. As conservative Republican Tom Price of Georgia is quoted as saying in the article, “The administration is pushing so many things so rapidly it’s difficult to concentrate on all of them.”
Add to these victories President Obama’s appointments and unraveling with executive orders, where possible, the Bush Administration’s institutionalization of incompetence and greed in government. No more Bush family friends and cronies running federal agencies charged with life or death decisions that affect millions — that alone is a quiet, but huge change for the better. The positive changes initiated by President Obama will continue to grow and benefit millions down the road. In terms of tangible reforms, his critics will have a very tough time comparing him unfavorably to post-war Republican presidents — and we’re only 8+ months into this presidency.