Thursday, July 21, 2011

So Mr. President What Did You Do During Your Term In Office?

By Miriam B. Medina (Ezine Diamond Level Expert Author)

Topic: Bush Administration vs Obama Administration

"No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the reputation which carries him into it." - Thomas Jefferson

It's coming up on election time once again, and President Obama will soon be seeking his second term. Hard to believe that we're two-thirds of the way through his first term already. One thing history teaches us, especially in regards to politics in this country in the past century, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That has held true in regards to President Obama, who rode into office propelled upon the winds of the promise of "change". While President Obama has done a number of things differently than President Bush, he has done quite a few things the same way. This article will examine the various similarities between Bush and Obama Administration, both good and bad, and the differences between the two Administrations, as well.

Starting with domestic affairs, there are a number of similarities between the policies of the two Administrations, some that will probably surprise you. While you might think that President Obama represents less clandestine method of operating the government that has not been the case. Though he promised his first act would be to shut down Guantanamo Bay, an American base that has been used to "detain" terrorist suspects, a base that operates in a notorious manner in regards to these suspects, Guantanamo Bay remains open and operational. He signed the order, but the detainees are still being held there with no changes to operations likely to happen any time soon.

Believe it or not, Obama also voted in favor of President Bush's wiretapping policies. "The bill provides that wiretaps found illegal by courts at a later date will still be treated as admissible evidence. The bill allows wiretapping to take place without the issuance of warrants. The legislation is a surprising and robust endorsement of President Bush's domestic surveillance policies."

Surprisingly, though President Obama has publicly disagreed with the Bush tax cuts, and though he promised to raise taxes on individuals that made more than $250,000, Obama reversed course and decided that the Bush tax cuts would remain in place until the economy bounces back. Though Obama is open about his desire to raise taxes, and though he is in power, the machine that is the American political system has once again held its course, though to be fair, that will probably change soon. Sometimes it appears that a President's philosophy is pushed to the back of the bus to keep America moving forward, or in this case, to keep it afloat as long as possible.

Another significant similarity comes in regards to the two Administration's actions to help restore the economy. To put things in perspective, Bush was faced with a major challenge because of September 11th, 2001. Since then, opening wars on multiple fronts, the economy at home has suffered, culminating with the bursting of the housing bubble in October 2008 and the subsequent stock market crash. As banks toppled at an alarming rate, the Bush Administration passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, within hours of its enactment, before the ink on the bill was even dry. This Bill created a $700 million dollar fund for the treasury to use to bail out banks. The public largely disapproved of this bill, but Bush pushed it through anyway, claiming the economy needed this stimulus to survive.

Inheriting a floundering economy, President Obama added his own stimulus worth $787 billion on February 17th, 2010. His administration also bailed out the Detroit auto industry, and again, the nation in general was not happy. Bush bailed out the banks to save the economy, Obama bailed out the auto industry to save the economy. Either way, both Presidents nationalized private businesses in the name of the American economy, much to the chagrin of the American people footing the bill. Some time, to be fair, leaders have to take unpopular stances for the good of the people. It's the toughest thing a leader must do, but as of yet, it has to be proven whether or not these were good moves for the people, but it cannot be argued that they were remarkably similar actions. Another stance that Bush and Obama agreed upon incredulously was the role that the government should play in regards to religion.

Bush has been considered to be a bit too religious, while President Obama has been hammered by the right for ignoring religion, yet they both have equally supported federal funds going to religious based groups and organizations. Two different people, two different personalities, two different viewpoints, yet the same result. The funds continue to roll into powerful religious entities.

The biggest similarity, and perhaps the most frightening, is that, while Bush was considered to help and get help from corporate interests, and while Obama promised and is considered to be cold towards corporate interests, both have treated lobbyists, special interests, and corporate interests with equal reverence. Though it must be said Obama has been harsher on corporations in regards to taxation, both bailed out an industry sector, and both have supported the special interests and the corporate interests that helped get them elected. Bush awarded military and oil special interests with contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has certainly rewarded green, friendly corporations and the pharmaceutical industry with his health and climate agenda. Though promising to eliminate special interests altogether, Obama, like many other Presidents, has simply changed them. Though certainly environmental and medical, special interests are inherently better than military special interests, they are still special interest groups and not general interest groups.

On the positive side for both Presidents, they have committed to a safety first foreign policy. Obama, though considered a peace candidate, has sent more troops overseas than Bush, and has engaged in the conflict in Libya, as well. A significant difference exists here even though. Bush declared war on Iraq and invaded Afghanistan in response to the horrid attacks of 9/11. Obama has inherited this conflict, though he's kept many policies in place. Where he has drastically differed is in regards to his views on Muslims and on nuclear proliferation.

Obama has clearly said that America is a friend of peace-loving Muslims around the world while Bush was noncommittal in regards to the Muslim world. Obama's attempt to extend the olive branch to the Muslim world is a stark break from Bush policy. Also, Obama has engaged the Russians on nuclear proliferation talks, even putting the cancellation of an Eastern European missile defense system on the table, much to the chagrin of long-standing American allies NATO. The Bush Administration was strongly in favor of establishing missile defense systems in both the Mid-East and in Europe.

The one real difference between the two is that Obama seems to genuinely want global peace and is willing to give away some defense mechanisms to get a more peaceful coexistence, whereas Bush stressed defense first, and was more conservative in his defensive agenda. Other than that, frankly, these two Presidents, though campaign portraits and promises have stated differently, have pretty much done exactly the same things while in office.

For the ultimate litmus test, just look at the state of the country the last few years of the Bush Administration and the first few years of the Obama Administration. The economy is in the tank. Unemployment is extraordinarily high. We have many of our armed forces in occupational roles. We are involved in a number of different military actions with no clear agenda or exit strategy in sight. The dollar is sagging, and in general, things are tough all over. As I said earlier, the more things "change", the more they stay the same.

Whoever the next President might be, be it Barack Obama or another candidate, let's hope they break from established policy and make things better for all of us, the American people, not just special interests. Change things for the better in real ways that we can see and feel, at the bank, at the store, while paying bills, while looking for jobs and trying to keep our homes, and while paying those ever rising taxes. It would be nice to think that change meant something different, dare I say, even better for the American people for once.

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