In his first address to the American people from the Oval Office, President Obama vowed to make BP pay damages upwards to the amount of $20 billion in a compensation fund that would act as a relief for the people of the Gulf coast. The speech came at a time in which many in the Gulf and around the country are calling out for an answer to the suffering that is taking place in the gulf and were hoping that the President would be able to answer this call. It’s been over 8 weeks since the oil spill occurred and millions of gallons of oil have gushed into the ocean, which BP has been unable to stop. President Obama took the airways to speak to the American people about what is currently being done and much of what he had to say left some still wanting more solutions.
President Obama has been criticized as of late for his handling of the oil spill situation in the Gulf and this speech to the country was his chance to clear the air about what was going on and could still be done. “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes” the President went on to say. He also announced that that he was setting up long-term restoration programs that would help protect the environment in the coastal states. This would be funded by BP and handled by an independent third party. However, many were still frustrated with the President’s speech arguing that he presented no real solutions to actually stopping the leak and helping the gulf long. This is not to mention that he lacked to mention the future of energy in this country and what this spill meant for the country’s oil dependency.
The $20 billion compensation fund that is being paid out by BP is a start to solutions in this country, but many feel that the President still has a long way to go before the stain of this disaster is truly cleaned up.
After an intense and turbulent 16 months, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair is stepping down from his post with some in Washington saying that the resignation comes with heavy pressure from the White House. The director of National Intelligence is a somewhat new position in the U.S. government being that it was created some time after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. The role of the job is to make sure attacks like that of 9/11 never again happened on American soil. Additionally, the job appointee is supposed to bridge communication between different departments of intelligence like the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. along with government personnel in the White House.
Blair is stepping down after a rocky 16 months in which many attacks on American soil slipped through the cracks of national intelligence. Even though many of these potentially tragic attacks were stopped before massive damage could take place and lives were lost, it gave a lack of confidence to the director. An example of one of these attempts would be the Christmas Day bomb attempt that happened on an airborne flight bound for Detroit. Even though Blair changed many of the issues with the U.S. intelligence since 9/11, it wasn’t enough for many in Congress or for the White House to believe the job was being done properly, and with either direct or indirect pressure, Blair decided to step down as director. Blair announced his resignation on Thursday saying that he has deep regret for having to step down from his post of director of national intelligence and that his last day would be May 28th.
Some high-ranking government officials have said that the interview process for the next national intelligence director has already begun and that a leading candidate for the position is General James Clapper. Clapper is currently the Undersecretary of Defense and many officials feel that he is the best qualified for the new open position. No matter who is chosen, President Obama will find the best-qualified candidate for a position that helps keep American citizens safe and protected.
Filling a vacant Supreme Court seat is always a challenge for a President. There’s literally dozens of names that the Commander In Chief has to pick from, all of which are highly qualified. Each name is thought over, argued, and debated by everyone and anyone in the political circle, and rightfully so. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and whatever selection is made will directly affect the citizens of the United States.
His pick will have to be approved by Congress and this will require more debate on the subject. President Obama isn’t a stranger to this process (President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor in May of 2009 to replace the open court justice seat left by justice David Souter). President Obama is about to have this process happen to him all over again when he nominates his pick for new Supreme Court Justice to replace John Paul Stevens. Despite the long list of qualified individuals, many are saying that the President has already chosen his pick for the seat and will announce who that is come Monday.
The word in Washington is that President Obama is expected to nominated Solicitor General and former law dean of Harvard, Elena Kegan. This isn’t a surprise for many in Washington considering that Kegan has been the frontrunner since the news of Stevens stepping down was announced a few weeks ago. Reports have it that the pick is so expected in Washington that if Kegan isn’t named to the Supreme Court by next week many will be nothing less than shocked.
Whomever the President picks for the seat, it’s bound to be an interesting move that will say much about where he hopes the Supreme Court will be going in the upcoming years and how they will judge the laws they will be upholding.
Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens announced last week that he would retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the court’s current term. This is important news for both the Supreme Court and for President Obama considering that now the search begins for the President to find Stevens’ replacement. The longest serving and oldest member of the court (Stevens is 90 years old) will step down this summer as he stated in a letter to the President last week.
Named to the court in 1975 by then President Gerald Ford, Stevens has been the foundation of the court when it comes to follow the ideas of the constitution and liberal ideology for decades. Stevens hopes that his views on abortion rights, protection for homosexuals, and defending the rights of average citizens over big interests stands as his legacy – outlasting his retirement. Yet, as big as the news that Stevens is retiring happens to be, the bigger story may be the President’s search for the new justice.
President Obama stated that Stevens’ successor would be in place for the senate to vote on by the beginning of the new term for the court in October. He also went on to say that the nominee would be an “independent mind” who would have a record of excellence in dedication to law and how the law affects the American people. Some names that have been swirling around on the short list for potential nominees have been Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Judge Ann Claire Williams, and even current Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
With the quick movement of the President’s pen, the dream of health care for every American became a reality.
It was a historical day in Washington on Tuesday when President Obama and other politicians came together to see what was thought of to be an impossibility just two months ago – the signing of the health care reform into law. President Obama, Vice President Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent guests stood back and watched as President Obama signed the landmark bill into law thus ending a long drawn out political battle that had been waging in Congress for over a year. The historical health care bill will bring near universal health care to millions of Americans who go without insurance, but also stands as the biggest domestic change in U.S. policy since the inception of Medicare back in the 1960s.
The bill will cover up to 95 percent of Americans compared to the 83 percent that are currently covered now while also making it a law that everyone in the country have some sort of medical coverage. This is done by making employers put their workers under health care coverage while also eventually giving the option to citizens to buy their own health care or be covered under a government health care option. Most of the bill’s provisions, however, will not be immediate. In fact, most will not go into effect until 2014. Yet, the expanding of Medicare and allowing young people to stay on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26 could happen as soon as this upcoming fall.
On the campaign trail, President Obama made a promise of an America in which every citizen would not have to worry about health care. This was something that many felt was an impossible goal, but after yesterday the President followed through on that promise with nothing more than a quick movement of a pen and his signature.
President Obama has seen the future of the economy and it is… Green!
This week, President Obama stated that the hope for a revival of the American economy could be found in creating and maintaining a clean energy industry and “green” jobs. The President also said that the jobs of tomorrow will be in the “clean energy sector” and that steps are being taken now towards a clean and profitable industry. This has been something that the President and his administration have been striving to achieve since gaining office. By stressing the importance of a green industry the White House is giving the American people a view of the hopeful future along with answers to the question, “how can we fix the economy?”
When talking to small business owners, the President went over some of the initiatives his administration is working on to achieve a good green economy. He called to attention the Home Star program, which he first proposed during his State of the Union address. This program would offer $1,500 – $3,000 in discounts to homeowners who make their homes green. Homeowners could receive the $1,500 rebate simply by putting in environmentally friendly insulation and installing energy efficient windows which help conserve energy. The $3,000 rebate would involve more extensive renovations and incorporate improvements to the entire house. This initiative could help produce around 20% in energy savings while also boosting the economy by cutting the construction industry’s unemployment rate by 25%.
The President understands that fixing the broken economy is vital to the future of the country. He also realizes that if climate change isn’t addressed then there may not even be a future to get to. Luckily for the President, and the rest of the country, both may be able to fix each other.
The Democratic Party took a big blow when Republican Dan Brown won office in a special election in Massachusetts. Not only was the senate seat he won in a fundamentally well known blue state but the seat belonged to the late Ted Kennedy who stood as a leader of the democratic party for over 30 years. This loss in Massachusetts set a frightening precedent for Democrats and these could be times for the Democratic party to panic in fears that their agenda, along with mid-term elections, will go against them. However, President Obama told his fellow democrats on Wednesday that this is not the time to panic, this is the time to lead.
President Obama spoke with fellow Democratic leaders and pleaded with them to make this the time in which they become leaders saying that, if there is anything to learn from the special elections in Massachusetts, it’s not to sit around and do nothing. He also went on to say that politicians that work hard for their voters will win future mid-term elections and, if they do the right thing, that is who/what individuals will vote for. He said that this is the time for the party to focus in on being more public with their business, avoid cable news stations that help turn the tide against them and call out Republicans when the time is right.
It would be easy for anyone holding public office to get bogged down by bad politics, but now is the time when citizens need leaders the most. This is the message that President Obama is trying to convey to his party. In times of trouble it would be easy to back away from the problems that need solutions or, better yet, point fingers at who’s to blame. However, President Obama expects more of himself and more of his party supporting the notion that this is not the time for lukewarm politicians. Instead, this is a time for leaders.