Oh, boy----Presidency of Barack Obama

44th President of the United States
Barack Obama being sworn in as President of the United States.
See also: Timeline of the Presidency of Barack Obama
The Presidency of Barack Obama began at noon EST on January 20, 2009 when he became the 44th President of the United States. Obama was a United States Senator from Illinois at the time of his victory over Arizona Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Obama became the first African-American president of the United States.
His policy decisions have addressed a global financial crisis and have included changes in tax policies, legislation to reform the United States health care industry, foreign policy initiatives and the phasing out of detention of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. He attended the G-20 London summit and later visited U.S. troops in Iraq. On the tour of various European countries following the G-20 summit, he announced in Prague that he intended to negotiate substantial reduction in the world's nuclear arsenals, en-route to their eventual extinction. In October 2009, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11E Battery
Main article: Presidential transition of Barack Obama
The presidential transition period began following Obama's election to the presidency on November 4, 2008. The Obama-Biden Transition Project was co-chaired by John Podesta, Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse. During the transition period, Obama announced his nominations for his Cabinet and administration. Shortly after the election on November 4, Obama chose Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois as his Chief of Staff.[5] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11L Battery
Cabinet nominations included former Democratic primary opponents Hillary Rodham Clinton for Secretary of State and Bill Richardson for Secretary of Commerce (although the latter withdrew on January 4, 2009). Obama appointed Eric Holder as his Attorney General, the first African-American appointed to that position. He also nominated Timothy F. Geithner to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.[6] On December 1, Obama announced that he had asked Robert Gates to remain as Secretary of Defense, making Gates the first Defense head to carry over from a president of a different party.[7] He nominated former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice to the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, which he restored to a Cabinet-level position.[8] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11M Battery
During his transition, he maintained a website Change.gov, on which he wrote blogs to readers and uploaded video addresses by many of the members of his new cabinet.[9] He announced strict rules for federal lobbyists, restricting them from financially contributing to his administration and forcing them to stop lobbying while working for him.[10] The website also allowed individuals to share stories and visions with each other and the transition team in what was called the Citizen's Briefing Book, which was given to Obama shortly after his inauguration.[11] Most of the information from Change.gov was transferred to the official White House website Whitehouse.gov just after Obama's inauguration.[12] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11S Battery
Inauguration
Inauguration of Barack Obama
Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. He officially assumed the presidency at 12:00 noon, EST,[13] and completed the oath of office at 12:05 PM, EST. He delivered his inaugural address immediately following his oath. After his speech, he went to the President's Room in the House Wing of the Capitol and signed three documents: a commemorative proclamation, a list of Cabinet appointments, and a list of sub-Cabinet appointments, before attending a luncheon with congressional and administration leaders and invited guests.[14] To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of former President Abraham Lincoln, the same Bible that was used for Lincoln's inauguration was used in Obama's inauguration.[15] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11Z Battery
In administering the oath, Chief Justice John G. Roberts misplaced the word "faithfully" and erroneously replaced the phrase "President of the United States" with "President to the United States" before restating the phrase correctly; since Obama initially repeated the incorrect form, some scholars argued the President should take the oath again.[16] On January 21, Roberts readministered the oath to Obama in a private ceremony in the White House Map Room, making him the seventh U.S. president to retake the oath; White House Counsel Greg Craig said Obama took the oath from Roberts a second time out of an "abundance of caution".[17] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15G Battery
First 100 days
Main article: First 100 days of Barack Obama's presidency
Expectations
Obama's 100th day in office was April 29, 2009. In his first post-election interview with 60 Minutes, Obama said that he has been studying Roosevelt's first 100 days,[18] while adding, "The first hundred days is going to be important, but it's probably going to be the first thousand days that makes the difference."[19] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15T Battery
Oama's first 100 days were highly anticipated ever since he became the presumptive nominee.[20] Several news outlets created web pages dedicated to covering the subject.[21] Commentators weighed in on challenges and priorities within domestic, foreign, economic, and environmental policy.[22][23][24][25] CNN lists a number of economic issues that "Obama and his team will have to tackle in their first 100 days", foremost among which is passing and implementing a recovery package to deal with the financial crisis.[24] Clive Stafford Smith, a British human rights lawyer, expressed hopes that the new president will close Guantanamo Bay detention camp in his first 100 days in office. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ17 Battery
After aides of the president announced his intention to give a major foreign policy speech in the capital of an Islamic country, there were speculations in Jakarta that he might return to his former home city within the first 100 days.[26]
The New York Times devoted a five-part series, which was spread out over two weeks, to anticipatory analysis of Obama's first hundred days. Each day, the analysis of a political expert was followed by freely edited blog postings from readers. The writers compared Obama's prospects with the situations of Franklin D. Roosevelt (January 16, Jean Edward Smith),[27] John F. Kennedy (January 19, Richard Reeves),[28] Lyndon B. Johnson (January 23, Robert Dallek),[29] Ronald Reagan (January 27, Lou Cannon),[30] and Richard Nixon. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ17G Battery
Legislation and executive orders
Within minutes of taking the Oath of Office on January 20, Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, issued an order suspending last-minute federal regulations pushed through by outgoing President George W. Bush, planning to review everything still pending.[31] Due to the economic crisis, the President enacted a pay freeze for Senior White House Staff making more than $100,000 per year,[32] as well as announcing stricter guidelines regarding lobbyists in an effort to raise the ethical standards of the White House.[33] He asked for a waiver to his own new rules, however, for the appointments of William Lynn to the position of Deputy Defense Secretary, Jocelyn Frye to the position of director of policy and projects in the Office of the First Lady, and Cecilia Muñoz to the position of director of intergovernmental affairs in the executive office of the president, leading to some criticism of hypocrisy and violation of his pledge for governmental openness.[34][35] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18 Battery

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In his first week in office, Obama signed an executive order suspending all the ongoing proceedings of Guantanamo military commission and ordering the detention facility to be shut down within the year.[36][37][38] He also signed an order requiring the Army Field Manual to be used as a guide for terror interrogations, banning torture and other coercive techniques, such as waterboarding.[39] Obama also issued an executive order entitled "Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel", setting stricter limitations on incoming executive branch employees and placing tighter restrictions on lobbying in the White House.[40] Obama signed two Presidential Memoranda concerning energy independence, ordering the Department of Transportation to establish higher fuel efficiency standards before 2011 models are released and allowing states to raise their emissions standards above the national standard.[41] He also ended the Mexico City Policy, which banned federal grants to international groups that provide abortion services or counseling. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18G BatteryIn his first week he also established a policy of producing a weekly Saturday morning video address available on Whitehouse.gov and YouTube,[44][45][46] much like those released during his transition period.[47][48] The first address had been viewed by 600,000 YouTube viewers by the next afternoon.[49] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18T Battery
The first piece of legislation Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 on January 29, which revised the statute of limitations for filing pay discrimination lawsuits. Lilly Ledbetter joined Obama and his wife, Michelle, as he signed the bill, fulfilling his campaign pledge to nullify Ledbetter v. Goodyear.[50] On February 3, he signed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIP), expanding health care from 7 million children under the plan to 11 million.[51] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31B Battery
President Obama signs the ARRA into law on February 17, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Vice President Joe Biden stands behind him.
After much debate, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was passed by both House and Senate on February 13, 2009. Originally intended to be a bipartisan bill, the passage of the bill was largely along party lines. No Republicans voted for it in the House, and three moderate Republicans voted for it in the Senate (Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania).[52] The bill combined tax breaks with spending on infrastructure projects, extension of welfare benefits, and education.[53] The final cost of the bill was $787 billion, and almost $1.2 trillion with debt service included.[54] Obama signed the Act into law on February 17, 2009 in Denver, Colorado.[55] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31E Battery
On March 9, 2009, Obama lifted restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research,[56] and in doing so, called into question some of George W. Bush's signing statements. Obama stated that he too would employ signing statements if he deems upon review that a portion of a bill is unconstitutional,[57][58] and he has issued several signing statements.[59]
Early in his presidency, Obama signed a law raising the tobacco tax 62 cents on a pack of cigarettes.[60] The tax is to be "used to finance a major expansion of health insurance for children", and "help some [smokers] to quit and persuade young people not to start".[60]
Approval ratings and opinionSony VAIO VGN-FZ31J Battery
See also: United States presidential approval rating
2009
After his transition period, Obama entered office with an approval rating of 82%.[61] At the end of his first week, 68% of respondents in a Gallup poll approved of how Obama was handling his job, matching the early approval ratings of Dwight D. Eisenhower and trailing only John F. Kennedy in post-World War II presidents.[62] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31M Battery
Throughout early February polls showed scattered approval ratings: 62% (CBS News),[63] 64% (USA Today/Gallup), 66% (Gallup), and 76% in an outlier poll (CNN/Opinion Research).[64][65] Gallup reported the congressional address in late February boosted his approval from a term-low of 59% to 67%.[66]
Throughout autumn 2009, Rasmussen estimated Obama's approval as fluctuating between 45 and 52% and his disapproval between 48 and 54%;[67] as of November 11, Pew Research estimated Obama's approval between 51 and 55% and his disapproval between 33 and 37% since July.[68] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ32B Battery
Handling of the economy
Rasmussen reported in mid-February 2009 that 55% of voters gave Obama good or excellent marks on his handling of the economy.[69] In early March, a Wall Street Journal survey of 49 economists gave Obama an average grade of 59 out of 100, with 42% of the respondents surveyed giving the administration's economic policies a grade below 60 percent. In comparison, only 30% of those same economists considered the response of governments around the world to the global recession to have been adequateSony VAIO VGN-FZ35 Battery
In April, a Gallup poll showed trust in Obama's economic policy with 71% saying they had "a fair amount" or "a great deal" of confidence in Obama's handling of the economy, higher than for Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, or leaders of Congress.[71] Another Gallup poll in June showed 55% of Americans approved Obama's overall handling of the economy, but 48% and 51% disapproved of his handling of the federal budget deficit and controlling federal spending, respectively.[72] A CBS News poll taken August 27–31 showed 53% of those polled approved of his handling of the economy.[73] A Rasmussen poll taken on November 12 found 45% of Americans rating Obama's handling of the economy as poor and 39% rating him as doing a good or excellent job. They found 72% of Democrats rated his handling of the economy as good or excellent, while only 10% of Republicans and 27% of voters not affiliated with either party agreed.[74] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ38 Battery
2010
On March 25, 2010, following his signing of landmark health care reform legislation into law, Obama's polling was revealed by Bloomberg to be 50%, with higher marks for relations with other countries (58%) and his running of the war in Afghanistan (54%). "Obama's approval rating is roughly equal to what Bill Clinton had at this point in his presidency, according to data maintained by Gallup (and) higher than the 45 percent Ronald Reagan recorded in April 1982" and more favorable than Democrats or Republicans currently in office. They found Obama's approval rating was at 85% among Democrats, compared with 46% among independents and 11% among Republicans.[75] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ37 Battery
Fox News released the results of two polls on April 8–9, 2010. The first showed a drop in Obama's approval rating to 43%, with 48% disapproving. In that poll, Democrats approved of Obama's performance 80–12%, while independents disapproved 49–38%.[76] The other poll, which concentrated on the economy, showed disapproval of Obama's handling of the economy by a 53–42% margin, with 62% saying they were dissatisfied with the handling of the federal deficit.[77] According to a Gallup Poll released April 10, 2010, President Obama had a 45% approval rating, with 48% disapproving.[78] In a poll from Rasmussen Reports, released April 10, 2010, 47% approved of the President's performance, while 53% disapproved.[79][80] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ38 Battery
The Obama Cabinet.
Twenty-two members of the Obama administration are either in the United States Cabinet (15) or are in positions considered to be Cabinet-level (7). The members of the Cabinet are the heads of the fifteen major departments (State, Defense, Justice, etc.), and the seven cabinet-level positions are the Vice President, White House Chief of Staff, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, U.S. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ50B Battery
Trade Representative, Ambassador to the United Nations, and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.[81][82] Since Robert Gates was a member of the previous administration, his letter of resignation (a formality at the end of a President's term) was simply not accepted, and he did not need confirmation.[83] On January 19, 2009, Senate Democratic leaders requested fifteen of the twenty positions to be ratified by unanimous consent,[84] and seven gained unanimous confirmation by voice vote the next day: Ken Salazar, Steven Chu, Arne Duncan, Peter Orszag, Eric Shinseki, Tom Vilsack, and Janet Napolitano.[83][85] On January 21, Obama presided over the swearing in of the seven unanimous nominees.[86] Later that day, the Senate confirmed Hillary Clinton by a 94–2 vote.[83] On January 22, several more confirmations were approved unanimously: Susan E. Rice, Ray LaHood, Lisa P. Jackson, and Shaun Donovan.[83][87] On January 26, the Senate confirmed Geithner by a 60–34 margin.[88][89] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ50B Battery
At the conclusion of Obama's first week as President, Hilda Solis, Tom Daschle, Ron Kirk, and Eric Holder had yet to be confirmed, and there had been no second appointment for Secretary of Commerce.[89] Holder was confirmed by a vote of 75–21 on February 2,[90] and on February 3, Obama announced Senator Judd Gregg as his second nomination for Secretary of Commerce.[91] Daschle withdrew later that day amid controversy over his failure to pay income taxes and potential conflicts of interest related to the speaking fees he accepted from health care interests.[92] Solis was later confirmed by a vote of 80-17 on February 24,[93] and Ron Kirk was confirmed on March 18 by a 92-5 vote in the Senate.[94] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ52B Battery
On February 12, Judd Gregg withdrew his nomination as Secretary of Commerce, citing "irresolvable conflicts" with President Obama and his staff over how to conduct the 2010 census and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[95] Former Washington governor Gary Locke was nominated on February 26[96] as Obama's third choice for Commerce Secretary and confirmed on March 24 by voice vote.[97] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ52B2 Battery
On March 2, Obama introduced Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius as his second choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services. He also introduced Nancy-Ann DeParle as head of the new White House Office of Health Reform, which he suggested would work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services.[98] At the end of March, Sebelius was the only remaining Cabinet member yet to be confirmed.[97] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ71B Battery
Six high-ranking cabinet nominees in the Obama administration had their confirmations delayed or rejected among reports that they did not pay all of their taxes, including Tom Daschle, Obama's original nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.[99] Though Geithner was confirmed, and Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, thought Daschle would have been confirmed, Daschle withdrew his nomination on February 3.[92] Obama had nominated Nancy Killefer for the position of Chief Performance Officer, but Killefer also withdrew on February 3, citing unspecified problems with District of Columbia unemployment tax.[100] A senior administration official said that Killefer's tax issues dealt with household help. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ72B Battery
Hilda Solis, Obama's nominee for Secretary of Labor, faced delayed confirmation hearings due to tax lien concerns pertaining to her husband's auto repair business,[101] but she was later confirmed on February 24.[93] While pundits puzzled over U.S. Trade Representative-designate Ron Kirk's failure to be confirmed by March 2009, it was reported on March 2 that Kirk owed over $10,000 in back taxes. Kirk agreed to pay them in exchange for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus's aid in speeding up the confirmation process;[102] he was later confirmed on March 18.[94] On March 31, Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, revealed in a letter to the Senate Finance Committee that her Certified Public Accountant found errors in her tax returns for years 2005-2007. She, along with her husband, paid more than $7,000 in back taxes, along with $878 in interest.[103] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ90HS Battery
Further information: List of nominations to the Supreme Court of the United States
Other courts
Outside of the Supreme Court, by October 2009 Obama had nominated fewer than two dozen judges to fill judicial vacancies, of which there were close to 100. This has prompted some Democrats to criticize the pace of Obama's judicial appointments as too slow.[104] In December 2009, Senator Patrick Leahy criticized Republicans for stalling those judicial nominations that had been made, noting that the Senate confirmed more district and circuit court nominees during the first year of the George W. Bush administration than it had approved by that point during the Barack Obama presidency.[105] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ90NS Battery
As of July 2010, Obama's nominees to the district and circuit courts had been confirmed at a rate of only 43.5 percent, compared to 87.2 percent during Bill Clinton's administration and 91.3 percent for George W. Bush. The Center for American Progress, which compiled the data, commented:
Judicial confirmations slowed to a trickle on the day President Barack Obama took office. Filibusters, anonymous holds, and other obstructionary tactics have become the rule. Uncontroversial nominees wait months for a floor vote, and even district court nominees—low-ranking judges whose confirmations have never been controversial in the past—are routinely filibustered into oblivion. Nominations grind to a halt in many cases even after the Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously endorsed a nominee. [106]
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Policies
Economy
Upon entering office, Obama planned to center his attention on handling the global financial crisis.[107] Even before his inauguration he lobbied Congress to pass an economic stimulus bill,[108] which became the top priority during his first month in office.[109] As President, Obama made a high profile trip to Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. to dialog with Congressional Republicans and advocate for the bill.[110] On February 17, 2009, Obama signed into law a $787 billion plan that included spending for health care, infrastructure, education, various tax breaks and incentives, and direct assistance to individuals.[111] The tax provisions of the law reduced taxes for 98 per cent of taxpayers, bringing tax rates to their lowest levels in 60 years.[112] Sony VAIO VGN-FW11S Battery
As part of the 2010 budget proposal, the Obama administration has proposed additional measures to attempt to stabilize the economy, including a $2–3 trillion measure aimed at stabilizing the financial system and freeing up credit. The program includes up to $1 trillion to buy toxic bank assets, an additional $1 trillion to expand a federal consumer loan program, and the $350 billion left in the Troubled Assets Relief Program. The plan also includes $50 billion intended to slow the wave of mortgage foreclosures.[113] The 2011 Budget includes a three-year freeze on discretionary spending, proposes several program cancellations, and raises taxes on high income earners to bring down deficits during the economic recovery.[114] Sony VAIO VGN-FW15T Battery
Obama speaking with former President Bill Clinton and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett about job creation in July 2010.
In a July 2009 interview with ABC News, Vice President Biden was asked about the sustained increase of the U.S. unemployment rate from May 2007 to October 2009[115] despite the administration's multi-year economic stimulus package passed five months earlier. He responded "The truth is, we and everyone else, misread the economy. The figures we worked off of in January were the consensus figures and most of the blue chip indexes out there ... the truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited."[116][117] In October 2009, the national unemployment reached 10.1%, the highest since 1983. However by March 2010 the employment rate had decreased to 9.7% and 162,000 jobs were added in a single month, the most in three years.[118] The White House indicates that 2 million jobs were created or saved due to the stimulus package in 2009[119] and self reporting by recipients of the grants, loans, and contracts portion of the package report that the package saved or created 608,317 jobs in the final three months of 2009.[120] Sony VAIO VGN-FW19 Battery
The economy posted a 5.6% rise in annualized GDP for the fourth quarter of 2009.[121] which was significantly higher than the Eurozone and Japanese GDP growth rates for the same period.[122] The economy grew at a 3.2% annualized rate in the first quarter of 2010, slightly lower than analyst expectations.[123]
During November–December 2010, Obama and a lame-duck session of the 111th Congress focused on resolving the question of possibly extending the Bush tax cuts, with the state of the economy a foremost consideration. A compromise tax package proposal was made that centered around a temporary, two-year extension of the cuts combined with various other measures intended to act as additional stimulus.[124] Sony VAIO VGN-FW17W Battery
Ethics
Lobbying reform
Early in his presidential campaign, Obama stated that "they [lobbyists] won't find a job in my White House", but softened his stance later in the campaign.[125] On January 21, 2009 Obama issued an executive order for all future appointees to his administration, which stated, no appointee who was a registered lobbyist within the two years before his appointment could participate on matters in which he lobbied for a period of two years after the date of appointment.[ Sony VAIO VGN-FW17T/H Battery
Three formal waivers were initially issued in early 2009 out of 800 executive appointments:[126][127] to William J. Lynn III, a lobbyist for Raytheon, to hold the position of Deputy Secretary of Defense;[34] to Jocelyn Frye, former general counsel at the National Partnership for Women and Families, to serve as Director of Policy and Projects in the Office of the First Lady; and to Cecilia Muñoz, former senior vice president for the National Council of La Raza,[126] to serve as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Executive Office of the President.[127] As of March 21, 2009 at least thirty officials appointed by Obama had been lobbyists in the past five years.[125] Ten additional waivers were announced in September, 2009.[128] Sony VGN-FW32J
Not all recent former lobbyists require waivers; those without waivers write letters of recusal stating issues from which they must refrain because of their previous jobs.[126] USA Today reported that 21 members of the Obama administration have at some time been registered as federal lobbyists, although most have not within the previous two years.[129] Lobbyists in the administration include William Corr, an anti-tobacco lobbyist, as Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services[130] and Tom Vilsack, who lobbied in 2007 for a national teachers union, as Secretary of Agriculture.[129] Also, the Secretary of Labor nominee, Hilda Solis, formerly served as a board member of American Rights at Work, which lobbied Congress on two bills Solis co-sponsored,[131] and Mark Patterson, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's chief of staff, is a former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs.[129] Sony VGN-FW31ZJ
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have criticized the administration, claiming that Obama is retreating from his own ethics rules barring lobbyists from working on the issues about which they lobbied during the previous two years by issuing waivers. According to Melanie Sloan, the group's executive director, "It makes it appear that they are saying one thing and doing another."[129] Sony VGN-FW36TJ/B
Transparency
Obama presents his first weekly address as President of the United States, discussing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The Obama administration has said that all executive orders, proclamations, and all non-emergency legislation will be posted to the official White House website Whitehouse.gov, allowing the public to review and comment for five days before the President signs the legislation.[132] The pledge was twice broken during Obama's first month in office when he signed SCHIP legislation and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act with less than the full five days of "sunlight before signing". Sony VGN-FW37J
The administration has said that they are still "working through implementation procedures and some initial issues with the congressional calendar".[133][134]
Obama plans to post a video address each week on the site,[44] and on YouTube,[45] informing the public of government actions each week. During his speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Obama stated, "I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy."[135] Sony VGN-CS39/J battery
On January 21, 2009, by executive order, Obama revoked Executive Order 13233, which had limited access to the records of former United States Presidents.[136] Obama issued instructions to all agencies and departments in his administration to "adopt a presumption in favor" of Freedom of Information Act requests.[137] In April 2009 the United States Department of Justice released four legal memos from the Bush administration to comply voluntarily with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.[138] The memos were written by John YooSony VGN-CS39/U battery
and signed by Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury, then Principal Assistant Attorneys General to the Department of Justice, and addressed to John Rizzo, general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency.[140] The memos describe in detail controversial interrogation methods the CIA used on prisoners suspected of terrorism.[141][142] Obama became personally involved in the decision to release the memos, which was opposed by former CIA directors Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet and John Deutch.[140] Former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized Obama for not releasing more memos; Cheney claimed that unreleased memos detail successes of CIA interrogations.[143] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31B Battery
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requires all recipients of the funds provided by the act to publish a plan for using the funds, along with purpose, cost, rationale, net job creation, and contact information about the plan to a website Recovery.gov so that the public can review and comment. Inspectors General from each department or executive agency will then review, as appropriate, any concerns raised by the public. Any findings of an Inspector General must be relayed immediately to the head of each department and published on Recovery.gov.[144] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31E Battery
On June 16, 2009, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in order to get information about the visits of coal company executives. Anne Weismann, the chief counsel for CREW, stated "The Obama administration has now taken exactly the same position as the Bush administration... I don't see how you can keep people from knowing who visits the White House and adhere to a policy of openness and transparency." On June 16, MSNBC reported that its more comprehensive request for visitor logs since Obama's January 20 inauguration had been denied. The administration announced that White House visitor logs will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis, with certain limitations, for visits occurring after September 15, 2009Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31J Battery
Beginning on January 29, 2010, the White House did begin to release the names of its visitor records.[146] Since that time, names of visitors (which includes not only tourists, but also names of union leaders, Wall Street executives, lobbyists, party chairs, philanthropists and celebrities), have been released. The names are released in huge batches up to 75,000 names at a time.[147] Names are released 90–120 days after having visited the White House. The complete list of names is available online by accessing the official White House website.[148] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31M Battery
Obama stated during the 2008 Presidential campaign that he would have negotiations for health care reform televised on C-SPAN, citing transparency as being the leverage needed to ensure that people stay involved in the process taking place in Washington. This did not fully happen and Politifact gives President Obama a "Promise Broken" rating on this issue.[149] After White House press secretary Robert Gibbs initially avoided addressing the issue,[150] President Obama himself acknowledged that he met with Democratic leaders behind closed doors to discuss how best to garner enough votes in order to merge the two (House and Senate) passed versions of the health care bill. Doing this violated the letter of the pledge, although Obama maintains that negotiations in several congressional committees were open, televised hearings. Obama also cited an independent ethics watchdog group describe his administration as the most transparent in recent history.[151] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ32B Battery
Foreign policy
Main articles: Foreign policy of the Barack Obama administration and List of presidential trips made by Barack Obama
The first meeting between Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama before the G20 summit in London on April 1, 2009. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ35 Battery
In his inaugural address, Obama suggested that he plans to begin the process of withdrawing from Iraq and continuing to focus on the war in Afghanistan. He also mentioned lessening the nuclear threat through "working tirelessly with old friends and former foes". He spoke about America's determination to combat terrorism, proclaiming America's spirit is "stronger and cannot be broken — you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you." To the Muslim world, Obama extended an invite to "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect". He also said the USA would "extend a hand" to those "who cling to power through corruption and deceit" if they "are willing to unclench" their fists.[152] Shortly after his inauguration President Obama first called President Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Sony VAIO VGN-FZ37 Battery
Calls were also made to President Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Olmert of Israel and King Abdullah of Jordan.[153] Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named George Mitchell as Special Envoy for Middle East peace and Richard Holbrooke as special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan on January 23, 2009.[154] At the same time, Obama called on Israel to open the borders of Gaza, detailing early plans on his administration's peace plans for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[155] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ38 Battery
President Obama and First Lady Obama are welcomed by Queen Elizabeth II to Buckingham Palace in London, April 1, 2009. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ50B Battery
On February 18, 2009, Obama announced that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would be bolstered by 17,000 new troops by summer.[156] The announcement followed the recommendation of several experts including Defense Secretary Robert Gates that additional troops be deployed to the war-torn nation.[157][158]
Obama declared his plan for ending the Iraq War on February 27, 2009, in a speech at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, before an audience of Marines stationed there. According to the president, combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by August 2010, leaving a contingent of up to 50,000 servicemen and servicewomen to continue training, advisory, and counterterrorism operations until as late as the end of 2011.[159] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ51B Battery
Other characteristics of the Obama administration on foreign policy include a tough stance on tax havens,[160] continuing military operation in Pakistan,[161] and avowed focus on diplomacy to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran[162] and North Korea.[163]
On April 1, 2009, Obama and China's President, Hu Jintao, announced the establishment of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and agreed to work together to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive U.S.-China relationship for the 21st century.[164] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ52B Battery
In that same month, Obama requested that Congress approve $83.4 billion of supplemental military funding, mostly for the war in Iraq and to increase troop levels in Afghanistan. The request also includes $2.2 billion to increase the size of the US military, $350 million to upgrade security along the US-Mexico border, and $400 million in counterinsurgency aid for Pakistan.[165]
In May 2009, it was reported that Obama plans to expand the military by 20,000 employees.[166]
On June 4, 2009, Obama delivered a speech at Cairo University in Egypt.[167] The wide ranging speech called for a "new beginning" in relations between the Islamic world and the United States.[168][169] The speech received both praise and criticism from leaders in the region.[170][171][172][173][174] In March 2010, Secretary of State Clinton criticized the Israeli government for approving expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem.[175] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ52B2 Battery
On April 8, 2010, President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the latest Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), a "major" nuclear arms control agreement that reduces the nuclear weapons stockpiles of both countries.[176]
Guantánamo Bay detention camp
On his first day in office, Obama requested a 120-day suspension of all trials for alleged terrorists held at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, so the new administration could "review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically".[177] Another order established a task force to lead a review of detention policies, procedures and individual cases. Obama addressed the State Department that "the United States will not torture" and drafted an executive order to close Guantánamo within a year. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ61B Battery
On January 22, 2009, Obama signed an executive order ensuring safe, lawful, and humane treatment of individuals detained in armed conflicts. This order restricts interrogators to methods listed and authorized by an Army Field Manual.[179] A detainee released since Obama took office claimed in an interview with Agence France-Presse that conditions at Guantánamo had worsened, stating guards wanted to "take their last revenge" before the facility is closed.[180] On March 13, 2009, the administration announced that it would no longer refer to prisoners at Guantánamo Bay as enemy combatants, but it also asserted that the president has the authority to detain terrorism suspects there without criminal charges.[181] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ62B Battery
The case review of detainee files by administration officials and prosecutors was made more difficult than expected as the Bush administration had failed to establish a coherent repository of the evidence and intelligence on each prisoner. By September 2009 prosecutors recommended to the Justice Department which detainees are eligible for trial, and the Justice Department and the Pentagon worked together to determine which of several now-scheduled trials will go forward in military tribunals and which in civilian courts. While 216 international terrorists are already held in maximum security prisons in the U.S., Congress was denying the administration funds to shut down the camp and adapt existing facilities elsewhere, arguing that the decision was "too dangerous to rush".[182] In November, Obama stated that the U.S. would miss the January 2010 date for closing the Guantánamo Bay prison as he had ordered, acknowledging that he "knew this was going to be hard". Obama did not set a specific new deadline for closing the camp, citing that the delay was due to politics and lack of congressional cooperation. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ70B Battery
The state of Illinois has offered to sell to the federal government the Thomson Correctional Center, a new but largely unused prison, for the purpose of housing detainees. Federal officials testified at a December 23 hearing that if the state commission approves the sale for that purpose, it could take more than six months to ready the facility.[184]
Overseas Contingency Operation
President Obama discontinued use of the term "War on Terror" and instead uses the term "Overseas Contingency Operation". However, Obama has stated that the U.S. is at war with Al-Qaeda saying "Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred."[185] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ71B Battery
In April 2010, the Obama administration took the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them.[186]
Gun control
During the presidential campaign, Obama announced that he favors measures that respect Second Amendment rights, while at the same time keeping guns away from children and criminals.[187][188] On February 25, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would seek a new assault weapons ban across the United States, claiming that it would have a positive impact on the drug-related violence in Mexico.[189] After the statement drew criticism from the NRA and some House Democrats, the Administration reportedly ordered the Justice Department to end public discussion of the issue. Sony VAIO VGN-FZ72B Battery
Obama has signed into law two bills containing amendments reducing restrictions on gun owners, one which permits guns to be transported in checked baggage on Amtrak trains[191] and another which allows carrying loaded firearms in national parks located in states allowing concealed carry.[192][193]
Science and technology
Wikinews has related news: NSA to participate in U.S. cybersecurity
President Obama during a call to the crew aboard the ISS.
Cybersecurity
Obama initiated a 60-day review of cybersecurity[194] by Melissa Hathaway, a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton, appointed Acting Senior Director for Cyberspace.[195][196]
The New York Times reported in 2009 that the NSA is intercepting communications of American citizens including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the NSA had corrected its errors.[197] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the wiretapping according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 which Congress passed in July 2008 but without explaining what had occurred.[198]
EnvironmentSony VAIO VGN-FZ90HS Battery
On January 27, 2009, Obama issued two presidential memoranda concerning energy policy. One directed the Department of Transportation to raise fuel efficiency standards incrementally to 35 miles per US gallon (15 km/L) by 2020, and the other directed the Environmental Protection Agency to allow individual states to set stricter tailpipe emissions regulations than the federal standard.[41][199] Sony VAIO VGN-FZ90NS Battery
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides $54 billion in funds to double domestic renewable energy production, renovate federal buildings making them more energy-efficient, improve the nation's electricity grid, repair public housing, and weatherize modest-income homes.[200]
On February 10, 2009, Obama overturned a Bush administration policy that had opened up a five-year period of offshore drilling for oil and gas near both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been quoted as saying, "To establish an orderly process that allows us to make wise decisions based on sound information, we need to set aside" the plan "and create our own timeline".[201] Sony VAIO VGN-FW11 Battery
On May 19, 2009, Obama announced a plan to increase the CAFE national standards for gasoline mileage, by creating a single new national standard that will create a car and light truck fleet in the United States that is almost 40 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016 than it is today, with an average of 35.5 miles per gallon.[202] Environmental advocates and industry officials welcomed the new program, but for different reasons. Environmentalists called it a long-overdue tightening of emissions and fuel economy standards after decades of government delay and industry opposition. Auto industry officials said it would provide the single national efficiency standard they have long desired, a reasonable timetable to meet it and the certainty they need to proceed with product development plans. Sony VAIO VGN-FW11M Battery
On March 30, 2010, Obama partially reinstated Bush administration proposals to open certain offshore areas along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling. The proposals had earlier been set aside by President Obama after they were challenged in court on environmental grounds.[203]
On May 27, 2010, Obama extended a moratorium on offshore drilling permits afSony VAIO VGN-FW11S Battery
ter the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill which is considered to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history.[204][205] Although British Petroleum took responsibility for the disaster and its ongoing after effects, Obama began a federal investigation along with forming a bipartisan commission to review the incident and methods to avoid it in the future.[206][207][208] Obama visited the Gulf Coast on May 2 and May 28 and expressed his frustration on the June 8 NBC Today Show, by saying "I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."[209] Obama's response to the disaster has drawn confusion and criticism within segments of the media and public.[210] Sony VAIO VGN-FW17T/H Battery
NASA
Obama set up the Augustine panel to review the Constellation program in 2009, and announced in February 2010 that he was cutting the program from the 2011 United States federal budget, describing it as "over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation."[211][212][213][214][215] After the decision drew criticism in the United States, a new "Flexible path to Mars" plan was unveiled at a space conference in April 2010.[216][217][218] It included new technology programs, increased R&D spending, a focus on the International Space Station and contracting out flying crew to space to commercial providers.[219] The new plan also increased NASA's 2011 budget to $19 billion from $18.3 billion in 2010.[216]
In July 2009, Obama appointed Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, to be administrator of NASA.[220] Sony VAIO VGN-FW19 Battery
Stem cell research
On March 9, 2009, Obama repealed a Bush-era policy that prevented federal tax dollars from being used to fund research on new lines of embryonic stem cells. Such research has been a matter of debate between those who emphasize the therapeutic potential of such research and those who suggest that elements of this research breach ethical limitations. Obama stated that "In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values...In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research — and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."[221] Sony VAIO VGN-FW17W Battery
Social policy
In January 2009, Obama repealed the Mexico City Policy, a controversial Bush-era measure that required any non-governmental organization receiving US Government funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services in other countries.[222]
On June 17, 2009, Obama authorized the extension of some benefits (but not health insurance or pension benefits) to same-sex partners of federal employees.[223] Obama has chosen to leave larger changes, such as the repeal of Don't ask, don't tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, to Congress.[224][225] Sony VGN TX15C/W Battery
On October 19, 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a directive to federal prosecutors in states with medical marijuana laws not to investigate or prosecute cases of marijuana use or production done in compliance with those laws.[226]
On December 16, 2009, President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, which repealed a 21-year-old ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs.[227]
Health care reformSony VGN TX16C/B Battery
See also: Health care reform in the United States
Once the stimulus bill was enacted, health care reform became Obama's top domestic priority. On July 14, 2009, House Democratic leaders introduced a 1,000 page plan for overhauling the US health care system, which Obama wanted Congress to approve by the end of the year.[228]
The U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the ten-year cost to the federal government of the major insurance-related provisions of the bill at approximately $1.0 trillion.[229] In mid-July 2009, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the CBO, testified that the proposals under consideration would significantly increase federal spending and did not include the "fundamental changes" needed to control the rapid growth in health care spending.[230][231] However after reviewing the final version of the bill introduced after 14 months of debate the CBO estimated that it would reduce federal budget deficits by $143 billion over 10 years and bymore than a trillion in the next decade.[232] Sony VGN TX58CN Battery
After much public debate during the Congressional summer recess of 2009, Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 9 where he addressed concerns over his administration's proposals.[233] In March 2010, Obama gave several speeches across the country to argue for the passage of health care reform.[234][235] On March 21, 2010, after Obama announced an executive order reinforcing the current law against spending federal funds for elective abortion services, the House, by a vote of 219 to 212, passed the version of the bill previously passed on December 24, 2009 by a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate. The bill, which includes over 200 Republican amendments, was passed without a single Republican vote. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the bill into law. Immediately following the bill's passage, the House voted in favor of a reconciliation measure to make significant changes and corrections to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed by both houses with two minor alterations on March 25, 2010 and signed into law on March 30, 2010.[232][236]
Education reformSony VGN TX57CN Battery

On March 30, 2010, President Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which ended the role of private banks in lending out federally-insured student loans.[237] By directly lending to students, the government is projected to save taxpayers $68 billion dollars over the next several years.[238] Federally-insured student loans will instead be distributed by the Department of Education.[239] The law also increased the amount of Pell Grant awards given each year, doubling its current funding.[240] Starting in 2014, the law permits borrowers to cap the amount they spend on student loans each year to 10% of their discretionary income and have their balance forgiven if they have faithfully paid the balance of their loan over 20 years.[240][241] Additionally, the law seeks to make it easier for parents to qualify for Grad PLUS loans, and spends billions on poor and minority schools and $2 billion for community colleges.[238][239] Sony VGN TX57CN Battery
Gates arrest controversy
Further information: Henry Louis Gates arrest controversy
"Beer Summit" at the White House, July 30, 2009.
From left to right: Gates, Crowley, and President Obama.
Photo taken before Vice President Biden's arrival.
On July 16, 2009, prominent African American Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was arrested at his Cambridge, Massachusetts home by a local white police officer, Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley, for disorderly conduct. Gates, who was locked out of his house, had noisily attempted to break into his own property, thus causing the initial alarm from a neighbor who called 911. The incident sparked national controversy over whether Gates's civil rights had been violated by Crowley. Sony VGN TX56C/T Battery
On July 21, the Cambridge Police Department dropped charges against Gates. On July 22, President Barack Obama, commented on the incident over national and international television, criticized the arrest, and stated the police acted "stupidly" handling the incident. National law enforcement organizations and members objected to Obama's comments and criticized his handling of the issue. In the aftermath, Obama stated that he regretted his comments exacerbating the situation, and hoped that the situation could become a "teachable moment". To reduce tensions, on July 24, Obama invited both parties to the White House to discuss the issue over beers, and on July 30, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden joined Crowley and Gates in a private, cordial meeting in a courtyard near the White House Rose Garden; this became known colloquially as the "Beer Summit".[242] Sony VGN TX56C/W Battery
Wall Street reform
On July 21, 2010 President Obama signed the Wall Street reform bill considered to be the largest financial system overhaul since the New Deal. The law recognizes complex finincial derivatives and makes rules to protect consumers from unfair practices in loans and credit cards by establishing a new consumer protection agency. At the signing ceremony in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C. Obama proclaimed, "There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts. Period." Obama also mentioned that "These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history." At the ceremony were Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the two committee chairmen who sponsored the bill.[243] Sony VGN TX57CN Battery
2010 Midterm elections
Due to high unemployment, the unpopularity of the health care law and massive spending increases, Obama's Democratic Party lost control of the House of Representitives and had their majority greatly reduced in the Senate in the 2010 Midterm elections. [244] Obama will now be dealing with a divided Congress for the rest of his first term in office. Sony VGN TX58CN Battery