COLUMN: Re-elect President Obama

  • Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 7:42 p.m.

President Barack Obama deserves a second term. Here’s why.

First, a little history. When President Obama took office in January 2009, the U.S. banking system was on the verge of collapse, the U.S. economy lost 655,000 jobs in President George W. Bush’s last month of office, and our country was spiraling toward a second Great Depression. Obama continued the Bush bailout of the Wall Street banks, which were deemed too big to fail. He stopped the bleeding of American jobs by getting Congress to pass an economic stimulus package which maintained or created thousands of jobs (including $1 billion for the Savannah River Site). Over Republican opposition (including Mitt Romney’s), Obama prevented the U.S. automobile industry from going bankrupt, saving over a million jobs. Since then, more new jobs are being created each month and the economy is slowly recovering.

Despite Republican obstructionism and gridlock in Congress, Obama signed The Affordable Care Act into law – essentially the same health insurance program that Romney signed into law as governor of Massachusetts. This act, or ObamaCare, prohibits private health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with a pre-existing condition, allows young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, limits a patient’s out-of-pocket costs, extends health insurance coverage to 30 million uninsured people, requires insurance companies to use 85 percent of the premiums they receive on health care, and provides an individual mandate, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, ObamaCare will substantially reduce government spending on health care.

When Obama took office, the U.S. was fighting two wars in far-off lands. Obama kept his word by removing all U.S. troops from Iraq. He is withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and he has pledged to withdraw all our troops by the end of 2014. Under Obama’s leadership, the man most responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Osama bin Laden, has paid for his crimes; many other al Qaeda leaders have been killed by U.S. drone strikes; Egypt and Libya have been liberated from dictators and are moving toward democracies. The United States is more respected around the world today than before Obama took office. As president, Obama will keep us out of unnecessary foreign wars.

Not since before the Great Depression has America’s wealth been so concentrated in the hands of a small group of people (the 1 percent); the gap between the super-rich and the rest of us is greater here than in any other industrialized country; the middle-class has shrunk, and the wages of working people have stagnated. Obama will promote economic fairness. He will let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire; he will work to close the loopholes which enable some people and large corporations to avoid paying taxes. If re-elected, Obama’s top priority will be to put America’s 23 million unemployed people back to work, such as by rebuilding our nation’s deteriorating infrastructure.

Equally important are the things Obama will not do during his second term. He will not cut Social Security benefits, or raise the retirement age, or privatize Social Security. He will not replace Medicare with Vouchercare. He will not eliminate key pieces of the social safety net for the poorest among us, many of them children. These programs will not escape the Romney-Ryan budget-cutting ax. Unlike Romney, Obama will not make huge increases in the defense budget — increases that we don’t need and can’t afford. Furthermore, Obama will not make immediate, drastic cuts in government spending which would throw more people out of work and plunge the economy into another deep recession. Federal regulations ensuring that we have safe drinking water, pure food, effective drugs, clean air and land free of toxic chemicals will not be weakened or repealed under President Obama. Lastly, Obama will not turn back the clock on women’s health.

No president can solve America’s problems by himself; a president needs the cooperation and consent of Congress. But, a president must provide consistent, steadfast leadership. Romney has changed his position on many issues during this campaign.

Does anyone know what Romney really believes, or what he would do as president? With Romney, we would be buying a pig-in-a-poke.

Anthony J. DiStefano worked in government before retiring to Aiken.

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