While I was encouraged by a hopeful agenda highlighting goals for the next four years, it wastogether and -er struck with me from the start. Taking the two in reverse, the country is farstronger than it was when Barack Obama was first elected. And it will only get -er if there is any chance of politicians doing what they were elected to do–finding some unity to move toward returning this country to an economic and philosophic respectability.
Despite inheriting the Bush deficit, despite obstruction born of contempt for America’s first black president, despite Congress’ ostrich-like receptivity to any ideas that even hint of progress, America is in better shape in February 2012 that it was in February 2008.
That said, I proudly present to Barack Hussein Obama the very first annual
Yes We Can! Long Island Valentine Award.
Let me count the ways. (Save any comments about a man crush.
have been assigned based on merit.)
34,000 U.S. military forces, just under half the 66,000 troops still there, within a year.
: Partner with businesses and communities to invest in American-made technologies
through a network of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes
, three of which Obama said he will create by executive order. Eliminate tax breaks
that encourage companies to move jobs outside the U.S., and rewrite the tax code.
: Create a commission to help improve the voting experience
, a response to widespread complaints about lengthy waits, requirements to show photo ID before voting and shortened periods for early voting. This was a finger-to-the-eye of Republicans who schemed and implemented dirty tricks to deny Americans, primarily minorities, their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.
Cybersecurity: President Obama signed an executive order earlier this week to increase information-sharing and develop standards to protect national security, jobs and privacy. He called on Congress to pass legislation to help the government secure its computer networks and deter cyber attacks.
: Continue to tighten the border, crack down on employers
who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, establish a pathway to citizenship
for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country without, and streamline
the immigration system for families, workers and businesses.
Gun control: Ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, require background checks for all firearms purchases and increase access to mental health services.
Education: (1) Early childhood education: Provide access to a high-quality preschool for all children from families with low or moderate incomes. (2) Launch a competition to help redesign and modernize high schools, and create a corps of 10,000 of the nation’s brightest science and math teachers to improve instruction in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Energy-climate change: Make permanent and refundable a tax credit for renewable energy to help double the production from wind, solar and geothermal sources by 2020. Help states cut energy waste and increase efficiency through a competitive grant program modeled after a similar program for education. Direct Cabinet secretaries to identify additional executive steps to deal with climate change.
Women: Renew the Violence Against Women Act to help protect victims of domestic violence and help law enforcement investigate and prosecute sexual assaults. The Senate voted earlier this week to renew the law; Obama called on the House to quickly send him a bill.
Minimum wage: Close the gap between the rich and the poor. Increase the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, to $9 in stages by the end of 2015, and allow for automatic increases to keep pace with inflation. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney supported the idea of indexing the minimum wage to inflation.
Housing: Spend $15 billion to help communities awash in foreclosed and vacant properties rebuild while creating construction jobs.
Federal budget: Continue to work toward the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction and stabilizing the debt as a percentage of the economy, both over 10 years.
Infrastructure: Spend $50 billion on a “Fix It First” program for urgent repairs to roads, bridges and railways.
And then there’s a for you. My way of thanking you for reading YWC!LI’snewsletter. And a really big for each of you who frequently respond to share your thoughts with Long’s Island progressives.
Today’s thoughts: What did you take away from our president’s speech that I may have neglected or given less credit than deserved?