Political positions of Barack Obama

Barack Obama has declared his position on many political issues through his public comments and legislative records. The Obama Administration stated that its general agenda was to "revive the economy, provide affordable and accessible health care to all, strengthen our public education and social security systems, define a clear path to energy independence and tackle climate change, end the War in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."[1]

Barack Obama in New Hampshire
Barack Obama campaigning in New Hampshire, August 2005

Economic policy

President Obama was first inaugurated in January 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession and a severe financial crisis that began in 2007. His presidency continued the banking bailout and auto industry rescue begun by the George W. Bush administration and immediately enacted an $800 billion stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which included a blend of additional spending and tax cuts. By early 2011, the economy began creating jobs consistently each month, a trend which continued through the end of his tenure.[2]

Obama followed with the legislation bearing his name ("Obamacare"), the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. By 2016, the law covered approximately 23 million people with health insurance via a combination of state healthcare exchanges and an extension of Medicaid.[3] It lowered the rate of those without health insurance from approximately 16% in 2010 to 9% by 2015.[4] Throughout his administration, healthcare costs continued moderating; for example, healthcare premiums for those covered by employers rose by 69% between 2000 and 2005, but only by 27% from 2010 to 2015.[5] By 2017, nearly 70% of those on the exchanges could purchase insurance for less than $75 per month after subsidies.[6] The law was evaluated multiple times by the Congressional Budget Office, which scored it as a moderate deficit reducer, as it included tax hikes primarily on high income taxpayers (roughly the Top 5%) and reductions in future Medicare cost increases, offsetting subsidy costs.[7] No House Republicans, and only a few in the Senate, voted for the law.[2]

To address the excesses in the banking sector that precipitated in the 2007-2009 financial crisis, Obama signed into law the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which limited bank risk-taking and overhauled the outdated regulatory regime ineffective in monitoring the non-depository or shadow banking sector at the core of the crisis, which had outgrown the traditional depository banking sector. The Act also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but did not breakup the largest banks (which had grown even larger due to forced mergers during the crisis) nor separate investment and depository banking, as the Glass-Steagal Act had done. Only a few Republicans voted for the law.[2]

Next came the federal budget debates. The Great Recession had caused federal government revenues to fall to their lowest level relative to the economy's size in 50 years. At the same time, safety net expenditures (including automatic stabilizers such as unemployment compensation and disability payments) and stimulus measures caused expenditures to rise considerably. This drove the budget deficit up, creating significant debt concerns. This caused several bruising debates with the Republican Congress. President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which included the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for high income earners and implemented a sequester (cap) on spending for the military and other discretionary categories of spending. Compared against a baseline where the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire on schedule in 2010 for all income levels, this law significantly increased future deficits. Compared against the previously years, it reduced the deficit and limited future cost increases. Along with the recovering economy, the law even lowered the deficit back to the historical average relative to GDP by 2014.[2]

With the economy recovering and major budget legislation behind him, President Obama began shifting to another priority: income and wealth inequality. From 1950 to 1979, the Top 1% earned roughly a 10% share of the income. However, this had risen to 24% by 2007, due to a combination of globalization, automation, and policy changes that had weakened workers' bargaining position in relation to capital (owners).[8] He referred to the widening income gap as the "defining challenge of our time" during 2013.[9] His tax increases on higher-income taxpayers lowered the share of after-tax income received by the Top 1% from 17% in 2007 to 12% by 2015,[8] while job creation remained robust.

Wealth inequality had also risen similarly, with the share of wealth owned by the Top 1% rising from 24% in 1979 to 36% by 2007.[8] While U.S. household net worth rose to nearly 30% from its pre-crisis peak from 2007 to 2016, much of this gain went to the wealthiest Americans, as it had before Obama became President. By 2015, the wealth share owned by the Top 1% reached 42%.[10]

President Obama also tried addressing inequality before taxes (i.e., market income), with infrastructure investment to create middle-class jobs and a federally-mandated increase in minimum wage. However, the Republican Congress defeated these initiatives, but many states actually did increase their minimum wages, due in part to his support.[2]

Energy policy

President Obama's energy policy can be understood by looking at the different investments in clean energy that were evident in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

At Andrews Air Force base on March 31, 2010, President Obama announced a "Comprehensive Plan for Energy Security", stating that "moving towards clean energy is about our security. It's also about our economy. And it's about the future of our planet."[11] His plan included raising fuel efficiency standards. He also announced a decision to double the number of hybrid vehicles in the federal government's fleet and one to expand domestic offshore oil and gas exploration in Alaska, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and off the east coast of the United States.[12]

Federal emergency management / Disaster relief

Obama proposed cuts of $1 billion, or 3%, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for 2013. More money would be given to state and local programs under Obama's proposal.[13]

Foreign policy

Capitol Building and Darfur Rally
Obama addressed the Save Darfur rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 30, 2006.[14]

Obama's overall foreign policy philosophy has been postulated as the "Obama Doctrine" by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, which the columnist describes as "a form of realism unafraid to deploy American power but mindful that its use must be tempered by practical limits and a dose of self-awareness."[15] An op-ed article in The New York Times by David Brooks identified Obama as a person having enormous respect for and being deeply influenced by the philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr.[16]


Obama's first major speech on foreign policy was delivered to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on April 23, 2007. He identified the problems that he believes the current foreign policy has caused, and the five ways the United States can lead again, focused on "common security", "common humanity", and remaining "a beacon of freedom and justice for the world":[17]

  • "Bringing a responsible end" to the war in Iraq and refocusing on the broader region.
  • "Building the first truly 21st century military and showing wisdom in how we deploy it."
  • "Marshalling a global effort" to secure, destroy, and stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
  • "Rebuild and construct the alliances and partnerships necessary to meet common challenges and confront common threats," including global warming.
  • "Invest in our common humanity" through foreign aid and supporting the "pillars of a sustainable democracy – a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force."

During that speech, Obama called for an expansion of the U.S. Armed Forces "by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines", an idea previously introduced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

In a Washington, D.C., speech entitled "A New Strategy for a New World"[18] delivered July 15, 2008, Obama stated five main foreign policy goals:

  • Ending the war in Iraq responsibly.
  • Finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.
  • Securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states.
  • Achieving true energy security.
  • Rebuilding US alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Law enforcement and security policy

United States electronic surveillance has reached an all-time high under Obama, with increased monitoring of emails, text messages and phone conversations.[19]

Social policy

The Almanac of American Politics (2008) rated Obama's overall social policies in 2006 as more conservative than 21% of the U.S. Senate, and more liberal than 77% of the Senate (18% and 77%, respectively, in 2005).[20]

In 2010, Obama signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which ended a policy of not allowing gays to state their sexual orientation openly in the military. In May 2012, he became the first sitting U.S. president to announce his support for legalizing same-sex marriage.[21]

During his second inaugural address on January 21, 2013, Obama called for full equality for gays: "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well." This was a historic moment, being the first time that a president mentioned gay rights or the word gay in an inaugural address.[22][23]

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 5, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e "In Defense of Obama". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance coverage". CBO. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "Health Insurance Coverage-2015 National Health Interview Survey". CDC. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  5. ^ "Employer Health Benefits 2015". Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  6. ^ "Rates Up 22 Percent For Obamacare Plans, But Subsidies Rise, Too". Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  7. ^ "Budgetary and Economic Effects of Repealing the Affordable Care Act". Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c "Striking it Richer" (PDF). Emmanuel Saez Berkeley. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  9. ^ Obama says income inequality is defining challenge for U.S. PBS NewsHour. December 4, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  10. ^ "FRED Households and non profit organizations net worth". Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "Remarks by The President on Energy Security at Andrews Air Force Base, 3/31/2010". whitehouse.gov. March 31, 2010. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  12. ^ By the CNN Wire Staff (March 31, 2010). "Obama energy plan would open Atlantic and Gulf drilling". CNN.com. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  13. ^ Sonmez, Felicia (October 30, 2012). "Romney ignores questions about eliminating FEMA". The Washington Post.
  14. ^ Hunt, Kasie (May 1, 2006). "Celebrities, Activists Rally Against Darfur Genocide". USA Today. Retrieved January 14, 2008. For excerpts from Obama's speech, see: "More Must Be Done in Darfur". The Hill. April 30, 2006. Archived from the original on February 5, 2008. Retrieved January 14, 2008.
  15. ^ "E.J. Dionne Jr. - The Obama Doctrine in Action". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  16. ^ "Obama, Gospel and Verse". David Brooks. The New York Times. April 26, 2007. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  17. ^ "Foreign Policy Remarks at CCGA". my.barackobama.com. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  18. ^ Obama, Barack (July 15, 2008). "A New Strategy for a New World". Obama for America. Retrieved July 16, 2008.
  19. ^ John Pike (September 29, 2012). "Report: Surge in U.S. Gov't Electronic Surveillance". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  20. ^ Michael Barone with Richard Cohen. Almanac of American Politics (2008). National Journal. p. 538.
  21. ^ "Obama says same-sex couples should be able to marry". BBC.co.uk. May 9, 2012.
  22. ^ Robillard, Kevin (January 21, 2013). "First inaugural use of the word 'gay'". Politico. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  23. ^ Michelson, Noah (January 21, 2013). "Obama Inauguration Speech Makes History With Mention Of Gay Rights Struggle, Stonewall Uprising". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 21, 2013.

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2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries

The 2008 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection processes by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois was selected as the nominee, becoming the first African-American to secure the presidential nomination of any major political party in the United States. However, due to a close race between Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, the contest remained competitive for longer than expected, and neither candidate received enough pledged delegates from state primaries and caucuses to achieve a majority, without endorsements from unpledged delegates (superdelegates).

The presidential primaries actually consisted of both primary elections and caucuses, depending upon what the individual state chose. The goal of the process was to elect the majority of the 4,233 delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which was held from Sunday, August 25, through Wednesday, August 28, 2008, in Denver, Colorado. To secure the nomination, a candidate needed to receive at least 2,117 votes at the convention—or a simple majority of the 4,233 delegate votes. This total included half-votes from American Samoa, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, and Democrats Abroad, as well as 'superdelegates' - party leaders and elected officials who were not chosen through a primary or caucus. The race was further complicated by a controversy over the scheduling of the Michigan and Florida state primaries, which had been scheduled earlier than party rules permitted, affecting the number of delegates that those states sent to the national convention.

The popular vote tally from most news organizations did not include Iowa, Maine, Nevada, and Washington. These states did not release the results of the popular vote from their caucuses. The media reports did include Florida, which neither Clinton nor Obama contested, and Michigan. Both states were penalized by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for violating party rules. Michigan proved a source of controversy due to the change in the date of the primary election. Consequently, Obama and other nominees removed their names from the ballot yet Clinton did not. The DNC did not count the popular vote from Michigan, and evenly split the states delegates between Clinton and Obama. As a result, without the Michigan vote, Obama won the popular vote; whereas with the votes from Michigan, Clinton won the popular vote. Nevertheless, regardless of how votes were counted, the candidates' totals were within less than one percent of each other.Obama received enough superdelegate endorsements on June 3 to claim that he had secured the simple majority of delegates necessary to win the nomination, and Clinton conceded the nomination four days later. Obama was nominated on the first ballot, at the August convention. He went on to win the general election, and became the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009. Clinton went on to serve as Obama's Secretary of State for his first term as president, and the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.

Barack Obama on mass surveillance

U.S. president Barack Obama has received widespread criticism due to his support of government surveillance. President Obama had released many statements on mass surveillance as a result.

Cannabis policy of the Barack Obama administration

During the presidency of Barack Obama, the government eased enforcement of federal marijuana laws in U.S. states permitting cannabis use. Contrastingly, Time reported in 2012, "Two years [after his first year in office], the Obama Administration is cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries and growers just as harshly as the Administration of George W. Bush did."

Comparison of the 2008 United States presidential candidates

This article compares the presidential candidates in the United States' 2008 presidential election. It does not cover previous elections. Because of ballot access restrictions in the United States, not all candidates appeared on the ballots in all states.

List of bills sponsored by Barack Obama in the United States Senate

Barack Obama sponsored 147 bills from January 4, 2005 until November 16, 2008. Two became law. This figure does not include bills to which Obama contributed as cosponsor, such as the Coburn-Obama Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 or the Lugar-Nunn Cooperative Proliferation Detection, Interdiction Assistance, and Conventional Threat Reduction Act of 2006. Nor does it include amendments to other bills, although in the Senate these are not required to be germane to the parent bill and can therefore effectively be bills in their own right. During the same time period, Obama has co-sponsored 689 bills in total; 408 of which had secured his support by the day they were originally introduced in the Senate.

Political positions of Joe Biden

Joe Biden served as the Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He served in the Senate from 1973 until 2009 and made his second run for President of the United States in the 2008 presidential election as a Democrat. Biden was announced as Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's running mate on August 23, 2008, and was elected Vice President on November 4, 2008.

Biden has supported campaign finance reform including the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and banning contributions of issue ads and gifts; capital punishment as his 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act created several new capital offenses; deficit spending on fiscal stimulus in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; tax credits for students; carbon emissions cap and trade; the increased infrastructure spending proposed by the Obama administration; mass transit, supporting Amtrak, bus, and subway subsidies for decades; renewable energy subsidies; same-sex marriage; student loan forgiveness; increased taxation of the wealthy; and universal health care. He opposes marijuana legalization and prefers the reduced military spending proposed in the Obama administration's fiscal year 2014 budget.The following are more detailed political positions of Joe Biden on an assortment of issues.

Political positions of John McCain

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a member of the U.S. Congress from 1983 until his death in office in 2018, a two-time U.S. presidential candidate, and the nominee of the Republican Party in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, took positions on many political issues through his public comments, his presidential campaign statements, and his senatorial voting record.

Online, McCain used his Senate web site and his 2008 campaign web site to describe his political positions.

Regarding the general notion of consistency of political positions over time, McCain said in June 2008: "My principles and my practice and my voting record are very clear. Not only from 2000 but 1998 and 1992 and 1986. And you know, it's kind of a favorite tactical ploy now that opponents use, of saying the person has changed. Look, none of my principles or values have changed. Have I changed position on some specific issues because of changed circumstances? I would hope so! I would hope so!" McCain was considered a moderate or centrist at different times in his career such as when he opposed the planned implementation of the Bush tax cuts in 2004. It was often reported that McCain had grown more conservative throughout his tenure in the Senate, according to various studies. During Barack Obama's presidency, McCain was one of five Republicans most likely to vote in line with President Obama's position on legislation; he voted with Obama's position more than half the time in 2013.The non-partisan National Journal published an analysis of members of Congress in which it gave McCain a composite ideological rating of 60% conservative and 40% liberal in 2013. On The Issues, a non-partisan and non-profit organization, identifies McCain as a "Libertarian Conservative." In 2017, the American Conservative Union gave McCain a 57% grade based on their positions and the ACU gives him an 81% lifetime conservative score; the American Civil Liberties Union, which focuses on civil rights and liberties, gave McCain a 53% rating in 2014. In 2013, Americans for Democratic Action, a progressive political action committee, gave him a rating of 20% in line with their positions.He was a member of Republican Main Street Partnership, a Republican group which presents what it describes as centrist Republican solutions in politics.

Political positions of Mitt Romney

The political positions of Mitt Romney have been recorded from his 1994 U.S. senatorial campaign in Massachusetts, the 2002 gubernatorial election, during his 2003–2007 governorship, during his 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, in his 2010 book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, during his 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, and during his 2018 senatorial campaign in Utah. Some of these political positions have changed, while others have remained unchanged.

In 1994, during his campaign for US Senate in Massachusetts, "Romney has cast himself as a moderate Republican, socially liberal and fiscally conservative" and The New York Times likened his views to those of Governor William F. Weld. During his gubernatorial campaign in 2002, Romney described himself as a centrist saying of himself: "I'm someone who is moderate, and ... my views are progressive." The Boston Globe, reporting on the 2004 Republican National Convention list of speakers, wrote that "Massachusetts Republicans with moderate positions on most social issues, Romney and [Lt. Gov. Kerry] Healey also fit into the moderate tone that the Bush campaign wants to project for its [2004] convention." However, in 2007, Romney launched his first presidential campaign and referred to himself as consistently conservative. In 2012, speaking at CPAC, a conservative political action committee, Romney described his tenure as a 'severely conservative' Governor of Massachusetts.In 2012, Gallup surveyed Americans about their perceptions of presidential candidates and 45% perceived Mitt Romney as conservative, 29% as moderate, and 12% as liberal with 14% having no opinion about his ideology. In 2016, Romney considered endorsing and voting for the Libertarian Party's presidential ticket. In the US Senate, as of March 2019, Romney had voted with President Trump on legislative issues 70% of the time.

Political positions of Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin is an American politician, commentator and author who served as the ninth Governor of Alaska, from 2006 to 2009. Palin was the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election alongside Arizona Senator John McCain.

She has provided political commentary for Fox News, and expressed her positions on a wide range of political issues during her career in the public eye.

United States Senate career of Barack Obama

The United States Senate career of Barack Obama began on January 3, 2005 and ended on November 16, 2008. He resigned his seat in the U.S. Senate upon being elected President of the United States. Obama won the seat in an election against Alan Keyes who replaced Republican Primary election winner Jack Ryan.

Prior to his election but after Ryan withdrew from the race, he rose to national prominence by delivering the 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address. Upon his election, he became the fifth African-American Senator in U.S. history, the third to have been popularly elected.

As a Senator, he served on a variety of committees and chaired the United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs. His bill sponsorship and voting records indicates that he was a loyalist to the Democratic Party. He was considered to be among the most liberal by various analyses. In his first session (109th Congress), he was involved in immigration reform. Legislation bearing his name was passed for armament reduction and federal transparency as well as relief aid.

In the first year of the 110th Congress, he worked on lobbying and campaign finance reform, election reform, climate control and troop reduction. In the second year, he legislated for oversight of certain military discharges, Iran divestment and nuclear terrorism reduction, but President George W. Bush vetoed his legislation for State Children's Health Insurance Program-related military family job protections.

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