The following major initiatives had occurred toward the end of April 2003, about two years and three months into the GW Bush administration:
1. Marginal income tax rate cuts in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
2. Passage of No Child Left Behind Act
3. Outlays as a percentage of GDP rose.
were 18.2% in fiscal 2000, 18.2% in fiscal 2001 and 19.1% in fiscal 2002.
4. The inherited surplus became a deficit.
5. Passage of the Patriot Act.
6. Invasion of Afghanistan in response to the Sept 11 attacks. Note that by April 2003, the Taliban insurgency was already gaining strength again.
7. Abortion restrictions. Reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy. Withdrawing funding for the United Nations Population Fund. Began the push for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban (introduced in Feb. 2003 by Rick Santorum, passed in November of 2003).
8. Sarbanes Oxley.
9. Homeland Security Act.
10. Invasion of Iraq.
Whether you agree with these policies or not, its a not insubstantial list. Several, if not most of these initiatives represent big breaks with the previous administration. For instance, Clinton raised marginal tax rates, whereas GW lowered them. Federal spending / GDP fell during every single year of the Clinton administration, but would rise in most years of the Bush administration. Clinton managed to turn a deficit into a surplus, whereas GW went the other way. The Mexico City Policy which GW reinstated had been rescinded by Clinton. The Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act don’t seem to be Clinton’s style. And while one might argue Clinton might have acted against Afghanistan following 9/11/2001, it is very, very hard to envision the subsequent invasion of Iraq had Clinton been President in 2003.
We are now about two years and three months into the Obama administration – about the same amount of time it took GW to engage in the initiatives mentioned above. So…. what are the major initiatives of the Obama administration so far, and which of them represent clear breaks with the Bush administration? (Please stick to things that actually happened or at least in which Obama invested some political capital. Something Obama might have said during his campaign, something you heard from one of your hallucinations, or something reported by Fox News may not fit into that category.)
Added. This post also appeared at the Angry Bear blog.