Obama Administration – Performance Assessment

April 29, 2009

It is one hundred days since the new administration under President Obama took office on January 20, 2009.

Precisely, around that time the nation was in a precarious situation specifically with the economy in severe recession heading towards a possible depression. It required urgent policy decisions to avert the serous economic crisis contributing to the crumbling housing market, potential bankruptcies of the auto industry, tremendous job losses, failing financial institutions and volatile stock market.

Even though, the crises are far from over, the administration demonstrated diligence with the legislation of the $787 billion stimulus bill through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act accompanied by various strategies to reform and revive the financial institutions and housing market.

The financial bailouts were justifiably controversial and awaiting the stress test results due on May 4, 2009. Meanwhile, the alternative of inaction would have proven equally detrimental and exacerbated the liquidity crisis in the financial market.

In addition to the measures in stimulating the economy, the administration’s effort to sustain the existing jobs in different sectors particularly the auto industry is noteworthy. Further planning and policy decisions to create new jobs phrased, as ‘green jobs’ through vigorous environmental and energy programs is the right course of action to efficiently deal with the challenging issues of global warming and energy independence.

Other achievements in promoting science and technology such as the stem cell research within the realm of ethical code, proposal to digitalize medical records as one of many innovative solutions in the health care policy, coordinating with the environmental agencies in the protection of threatened and endangered species are impressive. However, the request from the environmental groups to rescind the rule that limits the protection of polar bears from the melting Arctic ice caused by climate change is pending approval.

In social programs, the signing of two major pieces of legislation into law – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, ensuring equal pay for men and women and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that guarantees 11 million low-income children affordable health care are significant actions.

World health crisis in the wake of the ‘pandemic swine flu’ appropriately handled by the Obama administration thus far.

Despite the fragile economic conditions, the Obama administration’s response and reaction to most issues has been right on target. The anticipated legislation of the budget focused on education, energy and health care should accelerate the economic growth for rapid recovery from the existing crises.

The administration must strive hard to isolate investment from wasteful spending i.e. earmarks or pork barrel that often finds its way through major budgets and stimulus packages. Likewise, preventing the special interests and lobbyists’ continuous dominance should be part of the administration’s agenda.

With respect to transparency and accountability, the recent scandals involving legislators raises credibility issue for the majority party. It is important to maintain bipartisanship in legislative matters for national interest since future holds no guarantee with the majority rule. Moreover, divisive politics contributes to polarization jeopardizing national unity and ultimately election results.

In foreign policy matter, the recent participation in international summits appears promising with the exception of the boycotting of the Geneva conference on ‘racism.’ Please refer to the article on ‘Racism – The Durban II Geneva Conference’ @ www.padminiarhant.com.

Obviously, the rising tensions in the international arena from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea are few of the many challenges ahead. Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the form of two states solutions is paramount to attain permanent peace in the region. It would create a pathway for others sharing similar aspirations.

Combat troops withdrawal from Iraq and simultaneous deployment in Afghanistan deserve individual criteria and attention. Military operation always yields immense casualties and often precious lives are lost in the process.

President Obama’s initiative with Russia in the reduction of conventional weapons and other arsenal is praiseworthy. Nevertheless, it remains subject to the real statistics and the actual defense spending contraction by the geopolitical powers. The bold and audacious declaration of nuclear disarmament was music to ears, although the reality of it relies on the willingness and commitment by the other nuclear nations.

At the G-20 summit, the United States’ reluctance to support France’s proposal to force international financial institutions unveil the corporations using tax havens for tax evasions was disappointing. The unpopular yet meaningful recommendation contributed to a major disagreement between France and China leading to the mediation by the U.S. President Barack Obama. The international sources attributed China’s objection to the potential ramifications on the foreign investments in that nation.

In conclusion, the result oriented performance reflects President Obama’s admirable leadership skills and the administration’s ambitious goals in education, energy and health care is a step in the right direction.

I wish President Obama and the administration success in all endeavors.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant