Will liberals (finally) be satsified?

President Barack Obama has been in office for just under two years. Twenty-three months.

As the clock runs out on this first half-term (not full term mind you) he has already pushed through sweeping healthcare reforms that eluded Democrats for decades.

His administration changed radically the system for student loans, widening the pool of low-income Americans who can go to college and ending a shameful big-bank giveway.

He used Roosevelt-era liberal economic strategies to pull the country back from the brink of fiscal apocalypse.

And in the process passed dramatic financial reforms, reversing a generation of Reagan-era deregulation, which includes the first-time creation of a new consumer protection agency for investors.

He also pushed through a tax plan with Republicans that is, in fiscal terms, extraordinarily liberal.

Yes, it eschewss taxing the rich, but it also maintains high levels of spending and cash give-aways (in the form of payroll tax holidays and unemployment payments) to lower- and middle-income workers.

Put bluntly, this is the $800 billion dollar stimulus many progressives were demanding, albeit with some strings attached.

As I write, the Obama White House is a single Senate vote away from repealing Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell.

Obama deftly deployed his top military commanders to help reform a policy that progressives — especially in the gay and lesbian community — have loathed for seventeen years.

Yes, anti-war activists are, reasonably enough, impatient with Obama’s slow timetable for withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq.

But it’s also fair to point out that Obama made it clear from the beginning of his election campaign that a quick withdrawal was off the table.

And on the peacenik front, he also used his first two years to negotiate an ambitious START nuclear arms treaty with the Russians..

The plan, which has a good chance of passing during this lame-duck session, would dramatically reduced the number of nuclear warheads in the world, and lessen the danger of arms proliferation.

For the under-30  crowd, that might elicit a shrug.  But for people like me who grew up in the Cold War era, that will feel like a huge accomplishment, if Obama can win ratification.

To be sure, there is plenty in these first two years for everyone to be cranky about.  None of these policy victories were pure or unadulterated by compromise.

And they didn’t trigger the turn-on-a-dime economic recovery that some Americans hoped for.

But in the end, conservatives were forced to give ground on nearly every front, from government spending to conservative social policies.

It strikes me that if anyone has a reason to complain, it is the tea party crowd, not the MoveOn.orgers.

So here’s a question for our liberal readers:  Was it enough?  If not, what more did you expect from Mr. Obama in his first two years?

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36 Comments on “Will liberals (finally) be satsified?”

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  1. JDM says:

    Mr. “can’t-close-gitmo”?

    Mr. “extend the Bush-tax-cuts”?

    Mr. “unconstitutional-Obamacare”?

    He’s really doing ok by conservatives.

  2. What astounds me is that after doing pretty much what he said he wanted to do and at a pace he pretty much forecast, many of those who voted for him in ’08 abandoned him in ’10 thus handing control of the House back to the party they were against in ’08. I can only conclude that Americans are a fickle lot who jump on bandwagons without looking to see who’s driving and where they are going.

  3. scratchy says:

    “He also pushed through a tax plan with Republicans that is, in fiscal terms, extraordinarily liberal.”

    Um, no it isn’t. Not only does it extend tax cuts for the wealthy, the plan also raids money from Social Security.

    Many on the left also oppose forcing people to buy private health insurance, a major reason why the health care plan is so controversial.

    And it’s highly questionable as to whether the country would have experience “fiscal apocalypse” had Obama’s economic policies not been enacted.

    But keep on cheerleading.

  4. Mark, Saranac Lake says:

    Obama is no longer a single vote away from repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” – it passed just a short while ago, 65-31 with a few Republicans also voting for its repeal. Another accomplishment in an extraordinary first couple of years of this president’s tenure.

  5. Scratchy, What people lose sight of in the debate over health care is that we are already paying for it anyway. Because ERs aren’t allowed to turn people away the money that they lose on uninsured patients is added to the cost of insurance by the rest buy and made up from tax dollars. We’re also required to pay for Medicare through a payroll tax so it is nothing new.

  6. oa says:

    The DADT revocation is great. The insurance bill is probably a step forward (we’ll see as it starts to kick in in 2014), but it would have been better to put single payer up for an up or down vote, and make the GOP argue against it, then compromise, rather than having Obama negotiate with himself. There’s still 9% unemployment, with the Big O giving lots more attention to the banks than to the unemployed. And Social Security, which really didn’t have solvency problems until the 2030s, is now en route to running an actual big deficit soonish, which will grease the skids for people to start privatizing/cutting it, because they’re not going to raise the tax now after lowering it. So the deficit hawks will get to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, rather than the rich. Not really a win for liberals. And there are still two wars going on, and government approved torture and habeas corpus suspension. And no energy policy that gets us off the Saudi teat.
    He’s done some fine things. But there’s a lot to fix, so, no, I don’t think liberals are satisfied. Nor should they be.
    And Brian, the liberals voted in the same numbers they always vote during midterms. The Blenn Geck faction was just more energized because of teh socializm, and because the GOP was able to convince lots of old people that Obamacare would take away their Medicare.

  7. oa says:

    Whoops, sorry Brian, that was James who impugned the 2010 liberal vote, not you. One other thing–how well has the Big O sold any of his achievements? Nobody knows about the student loan reform, which is huge. You could put together a laundry list of examples where he simply hasn’t taken credit for stuff he did.

  8. scratchy says:

    James Bullard,
    Medicare isn’t a private insurance plan, so I don’t think being forced to purchase private insurance (no public option allowed) is the same as Medicare.

  9. Bret4207 says:

    Ditto what Scratchy said. It’s unconstitutional, period.

    Were I a lib, I’d be fairly well satisfied.

  10. knuckleheadedliberal says:


    Did Obama work on things that liberals wanted? Yes. That is why we worked hard to get him elected. But we wanted someone who would put up a better fight on some core issues. As oa points out Obama is responsible for the first wounding of Social Security and Obama pulled single payer off the table. Obama doesn’t seem to understand he has a pen that can write Veto.

    Liberals may want increased government spending but that doesn’t mean we want government to spend stupidly. There are other ways to create a stimulus. Start by forcing corporations to start spending the excess cash that is on their books.

  11. tootightmike says:

    Not really satisfied. While some form of healthcare seems like a move in the right direction, the requirement to buy health insurance creates a new and growing army of rich folks, involved in healthcare, but they’re not doctors…They own insurance companies. These folks are the modern day leeches, draining the life blood out of working people, school systems, local and state governments, and larger employers. We-the -people are going to have to pay for the healthcare that we need, and we would be far better off to pay in the form of taxes. Single payer may not be dead yet…

  12. Bret4207 says:

    “There are other ways to create a stimulus. Start by forcing corporations to start spending the excess cash that is on their books.”

    And gov’t should start forcing Americans everywhere to spend all their savings, max out their credit cards, take out loans for things they can’t afford. Getting cash into the system, which is already awash in cash, is the important part.

    Sorry, but not only is that Rooseveltian idea a proven loser, it’s also completely outside gov’ts mandate to do something like that.

  13. phahn50 says:

    Bret – wasnt it former pres Bush who exhorted Americans to go out and spend after 9/11 in order to restart the economy? I doubt that influenced anybody one way or the other, but still….

  14. Pete Klein says:

    No one is ever satisfied. Americans major in complaining. They suffer from a fantasy known as the American Dream. Problem is the dream is different for everyone.

  15. oa says:

    Bret said: “And gov’t should start forcing Americans everywhere to spend all their savings, max out their credit cards, take out loans for things they can’t afford. Getting cash into the system, which is already awash in cash, is the important part.

    Sorry, but not only is that Rooseveltian idea…”

    Not to take bait from a troll, but weren’t the policies that greatly encouraged (if not forced) Americans to spend all their savings, max out credit cards, etc…, to the point where personal debt was at an all-time high, ushered in under Reagan and Bush and Clinton and Bush? The guys who deregulated financial rules to the point where there were no standards? Ize confoozed.

  16. mervel says:

    I didn’t vote for him so I will only say that the one thing I hoped that he would do that I agreed with the Left on; was to get out of these stupid self defeating occupations. I don’t think he is up to the task. I would imagine this is a big disappointment.

  17. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Bret the Republicans said “it’s the people’s money and it should be returned to the people through tax cuts.”

    Well, the excess cash held by corporations is the shareholders’ money and it should be returned to the shareholders or used to buy back stock or used to hire new employees or used to upgrade equipment…and that is not a matter of political philosophy it is a matter of corporate obligation by law.

  18. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Mervel wouldn’t it be great if we started by getting out of the occupations we entered after WWII? Seems like the fighting is mostly over over there.

    That would be a good first step.

  19. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Repeal of DADT has passed. I wont be surprised if Obama vetos it.

  20. Mervel says:

    Yes it would knuckle.

    However we are not fighting in Germany or Italy or Japan today, we are spending US taxpayer money to maintain a world wide military empire largely at the request of our allies who then don’t have to spend any money on defense, they let us take care of them. It is a sick relationship and one we should get out of, we are not the worlds police, we suck at that job and always have.

    But the main campaign promise that Obama ran on was ending these active wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is time to go and it is time to leave them to their own devices, I don’t know why he is dragging his feet?

  21. Mervel says:

    Civil war is sometimes part of self determination and a part of Democracy. Both those countries will likely have to fight their own civil wars. However I honestly think the Taliban may win a general election in Afghanistan.

  22. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Ugh! Don’t get me started on Afghanistan! Only Bush could win a war and then turn around and lose it.

  23. scratchy says:

    I agree, time to close all overseas military bases and pull the plug on the free ride for other countries.

  24. Paul says:

    It doesn’t matter if liberals are satisfied with the agenda. Even those here that are complaining will vote for him in 2012. Yes or No?

  25. sratchy says:

    Not necessarily, people can always vote third party or write-in or stay home.

  26. Bret4207 says:

    Gee, back to name calling again when people express an opinion. Cool, very mature.

    Knuck, you said FORCE corporation to spend their excess cash. I’m not going to pretend to be intimately familiar with corporate law, but commons sense tells me there must be a vehicle whereby they can take the cautious approach in uncertain times. That seems to me to be what they are doing. Forcing corporations (Which ones? All of them?) to spend their cash reserve when they don’t know which way to move is unwise at best. If the laws are in fact being violated, fine, they need to make a choice. If not, then let private enterprise determine their own course of action. That’s why I offered the example of gov’t FORCING everyone to use up their cash reserves, etc. Micro management of business by Govt never works out to anyones advantage, except maybe gov’ts.

    Phan, yup, encouraging people to not simply shut down and hide at home is a little different than FORCING private business to liquidate their reserves.

    On the troll thing. A troll is a person who simply posts to inflame or cause problems. If you go back through my posts you;ll see I try to remain as consistent in my position as I can. I’m hardly perfect and if you wish to label me a cynic or curmudgeon or even a fool that’s fine. But troll is the wrong word. Of course name calling is pretty lame to start with, but when you have no argument, I guess it’s your best defense.

  27. Mervel says:

    Afghanistan is Obama’s war. Just as Vietnam was not Kennedy’s war (who started our invasion); but Johnson’s war.

  28. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Yes Bret FORCE as in making them follow the law. Just as a policeman might FORCE a speeder to pull to the side of the road and a court may FORCE the speeder to pay a fine.

  29. Pete Klein says:

    I think it is a really bad idea to FORCE companies, people and even governments to spend money.
    Isn’t part of the problem local governments are having is the way the state and federal governments require them to spend money by passing unfunded mandates upon them?

  30. oa says:

    Paul said: “Even those here that are complaining will vote for him in 2012. Yes or No?”
    Paul, you’re overlooking the possibility of a liberal primary challenge.
    Bret, when you make a statement like Obama got elected just “because of his skin color,” as you did on another thread, or refuse to accurately read a comment about Andrew Cuomo, insisting that he was called a conservative when he was not called a conservative, as you did on another thread, or throw out a historically inaccurate reference to Roosevelt, as you did on this thread, I’m assuming you’re just trying to start an argument for argument’s sake, and are therefore being a troll. So I called you on it. The whole quacks like a duck thing. My apologies if it’s not a duck.

  31. Bret4207 says:

    I’m sorry, did you say you apologize??? Huh, and a pig just flew by.

    You peaked my interest, exactly what historically inaccurate thing did I offer about FDR?

  32. oa says:

    I totally apologize, Bret. You’re the kindest, bravest, most factually accurate god-like saint I’ve ever had the privilege of having online discourse with.

  33. Bret4207 says:

    Right back atcha bud. Now, do tell about FDR…

  34. oa says:

    That would be uncivil, and I am, as you are, all about bootstrap conservatism, so I’ll let you figure it out. Give a man a fish, and all that.

  35. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    You guys should read Adam Smith who said that unrestrained capitalism is a danger to a free market.

  36. Bret4207 says:

    I’ve read some of Smiths thoughts here and there. Totally unfettered capitalism can go bad, no doubt. But we’ve never had totally unfettered capitalism in the US in well over 100 years, probably longer.

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