The next President is going to have some MAJOR challenges.
I refuse to buy into the hype, on either side, but especially on that of Obama. However the "empty rhetoric" v. "history of accomplishments" arguments have prompted me to check it out on my own, not relying on any candidate's website, book, or worst of all supporters' diaries, like this one.
I went to the Library of Congress Website. The FACTS of what each did in the Senate last year sure surprised me. I'm sure they will surprise you, too. Whether you love or hate Hillary, you will be surprised. Whether you think Obama is the second coming of JFK or an inexperienced lightweight, you will surprised. Go check out the Library of Congress Website. After spending some time there, it will be clear that there is really only one candidate would is ready to be the next president, even better than Gore. If you don't want to spend an hour or two doing research, then I'll tell you what I discovered on the jump.
I looked up Obama and looked up Clinton. I looked at the bills that they both authored and introduced. Anyone who has been around politics, and is honest, realizes that there are a lot of reasons why a Senator votes one way or another on bills or misses votes. However an examination of the bills that each of these Senators cared enough about to author and introduce revealed much to me: what they care about, what their priorities are, how they tackle problems. And the list of co-sponsors showed something about how they lead, inspire and work with others. Finally, looking at which bills actually passed is pretty indicative of how effective each would be at getting things done.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, let's all be honest here. It is damn hard to get anything through Congress these days. And Obama and Clinton care about the same issues and have obviously worked together on a lot of legislation, whatever Sen. Clinton's campaign may imply. She is a frequent co-sponsor on his bills, and he on hers. They are both completely competent senators.
I started with Sen. Clinton.
I'm not a Hillary Hater, but I certainly didn't like her much either. I didn't like her DLC history; her votes on Iraq, Iran or the bankruptcy bill; her characterization of the years she spent as First Lady as "executive experience." Hillary Clinton is no Eleanor Roosevelt. Perhaps more like Lady Bird Johnson. Hillary claims to have brought us SCHIP (with a little help from Ted Kennedy). Lady Bird brought us Head Start as well as cleaner, nicer highways. Anyone 40 or older probably remembers when the nation's highways were basically disgusting garbage dumps lined with billboards. But no one thinks Lady Bird should have been president. Might as well argue for Barbara Bush because of her efforts on family literacy, or Nancy Reagan and the War on Drugs.
Hillary Clinton does have a solid record in the Senate, however.
I came away from my research really knowing a lot more about what is important to Hillary in her heart: kids and their well being. My research changed my feeling about her significantly. About 40% of her bills dealt with health care and/or kids. As a mom with small kids, I like her passion for children's issues. But curiously, her big bill to deliver health care to every child, the one she lauds on her website, S.895 : "A bill to amend titles XIX and XXI of the Social Security Act to ensure that every child in the United States has access to affordable, quality health insurance coverage, and for other purposes" had not a single co-sponsor. Not one, according to the Library of Congress. Why is that? Is it a bad bill? Or is she not able to recruit support for her signature issue? Or did she just submit it simply to put in the hopper, so to speak, so she could claim she was working on it. I honestly don't know the answer, but I find it curious and suspicious that not even Ted Kennedy co-sponsored it. Its sister bill in the house, H.R. 1535, introduced by John Dingell has 42 co-sponsors. It's just weird. I honestly don't know what to make of it.
S.895 was major. But most of her other bills are much smaller in scale and scope — more targeted and more careful.
For example, she introduced one bill that offered tax credits for building owners who clean up lead paint. Which is a very good thing. And Obama is a co-sponsor. "S.1793 : A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a tax credit for property owners who remove lead-based paint hazards."
Obama's anti-lead bill (S. 1306) directed the Consumer Product Safety Commission to classify certain children's products containing lead as banned hazardous substances. He had another bill prohibitting the interstate transport of children's products containing lead. (S.2132) And Hillary co-sponsored each of these.
In other words, they both care about protecting children from lead.
The difference is in the scope and the approach.
Obama's bill shows how he thinks big: do everything we can to make sure that lead-painted Thomas the Tank Engine toys don't get into the hands and mouths of millions of toddlers in this country.
Or Hillary: encourage people by offering tax credits to clean up lead paint in old buildings. People have been talking about lead paint in old buildings hurting kids in living in inner cities, since, well when I was a kid — for decades. If it is still a big problem, is offering tax credits for clean up, i.e. scrape down the walls and repaint, the best way to protect kids from lead?
How many of you parents have lead paint problems? How many have (or had) toxic Thomas the Tank Engine Toys? They are everywhere. The local bookstore and kid's shoe store and the doctor's office and the preschool and the toystore all have train tables. There is nowhere you can go anymore with toddlers that doesn't have a Thomas the Tank Engine train table covered with toxic toys. But that's just my feeling.
Obama's bills risk pissing off the toy industry and the Chinese. Hillary's risks nothing.
A lot of Clinton's health bills focus on children. Or women. She introduced a billl for research in the causes of gestational diabetes, for more pediatric research (S.895) and a rural agriculture bill to get farm-fresh veggies into schools (S.1031).
Her bill dealing with the crisis in foreclosure is actually S.2114 : "A bill to amend the Truth in Lending Act, to provide for enhanced disclosures to consumers and enhanced regulation of mortgage brokers, and for other purposes." Again, no co-sponsors. Obama also introduced a bill in the face of the mortgage foreclosure crisis: S.1222 : "A bill to stop mortgage transactions which operate to promote fraud, risk, abuse, and under-development, and for other purposes." Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 4/25/2007), co-sponsored by Dick Durbin.
In her ads and speeches, Clinton claims that she's fighting to stop foreclosure while implying that Obama is empty rhetoric. Actually, Clinton is calling for "enhanced disclosures to consumers and enhanced regulation", while Obama's bill will "stop mortgage transactions which operate to promote fraud, risk, abuse, and under-development." After looking at the two bills, Obama's appears to be tougher, more directly addressing the problem.
Speaking of Obama, here's a list of some of his proposed legislation.
Four bills on energy including
• S.1151 : A bill to provide incentives to the auto industry to accelerate efforts to develop more energy-efficient vehicles to lessen dependence on oil;
•S.115 : A bill to suspend royalty relief, to repeal certain provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal certain tax incentives for the oil and gas industry; and •S.133 : A bill to promote the national security and stability of the economy of the United States by reducing the dependence of the United States on oil through the use of alternative fuels and new technology, and for other purposes.
Clinton had only one bill that I could find that addressed the same issue, S.701 : A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to impose a temporary oil profit fee and to use the proceeds of the fee collected to provide a Strategic Energy Fund and expand certain energy tax incentives, and for other purposes.
Obama wants to "repeal certain tax incentives for the oil and gas industry". Clinton sees the answer in a "temporary oil profit fee" and to "expand certain energy tax incentives" for alternative energy. Obama's alternative energy bill (S.133) was co-sponsored by Harkin, Lugar and Salazar. Clinton's bill again had no co-sponsors.
On health care he introduced ten bills/amendments, including one amendment that passed: S.AMDT.1041 to S.1082 To improve the safety and efficacy of genetic tests. Other issues addressed in his proposed health care legislation were AIDS research (S.823 ), hospital report cards (S.692 — the V.A., and S.1824 — Medicare), better emergency care (S.1873), and drug price controls (S.2347).
Clinton's health care bills, for the most part, didn't impress me much, although she introduced many more bills in this area than Obama did:
S.CON.RES.63 : A concurrent resolution expressing the sense of the Congress regarding the need for additional research into the chronic neurological condition hydrocephalus, and for other purposes.
S.RES.176 : A resolution recognizing April 30, 2007, as "National Healthy Schools Day".
S.RES.222 : A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
S.201 : A bill to establish a grant program for individuals still suffering health effects as a result of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon.
S.907 : A bill to establish an Advisory Committee on Gestational Diabetes, to provide grants to better understand and reduce gestational diabetes, and for other purposes.
S.993 : A bill to improve pediatric research.
S.982 : A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for integration of mental health services and mental health treatment outreach teams, and for other purposes.
S.1065 : A bill to improve the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury in members and former members of the Armed Forces, to review and expand telehealth and telemental health programs of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
S.1075 : A bill to amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to expand access to contraceptive services for women and men under the Medicaid program, help low income women and couples prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce abortion, and for other purposes.
S.1343 : A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act with respect to prevention and treatment of diabetes, and for other purposes.
S.1712 : A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to improve newborn screening activities, and for other purposes.
and on and on. Plenty of these have plenty of co-sponsors. Obviously, Hillary Clinton really knows her stuff on the issues of health care. None of them passed, however. On Obama's side, one of his health care initiatives passed in the Senate, the aforementioned amendment to Kennedy's S.1082, the FDA Revitalization Act.
Truth be told, it was very depressing doing this research to see all these great ideas and how little actually gets done. Looking at the legislative history of Kennedy's bill is a good example. It finally passed but its sister bill in the House, H.R.2900, was the one that was finally enacted, and with it, Obama's amendment for safe and effective genetic testing. Clinton submitted two amendments to this bill, one of would have eliminated the sunsetting of pediatric data collection; the other would have begin the process to approve generic versions of complex and expensive drugs called biologics or biotech drugs. Neither were adopted.
Now let's look more closely at Obama.
I was blown away as I started going through his record. I've already mentioned his bills on health care and energy. In addition he had introduced bills on Iran, voting, veterans, global warming, campaign finance and lobbyists, Blackwater, global poverty, nuclear proliferation, and education.
On Iran: S.J.RES.23 : A joint resolution clarifying that the use of force against Iran is not authorized by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq, any resolution previously adopted, or any other provision of law.
On votingPassed out of Committee and now on the Senate Calendar for Feb. 22, 2008
S.453 : A bill to prohibit deceptive practices in Federal elections Please check this out! This is a great bill. We need this. I can't believe that this time voter intimidation is not already illegal.
On veterans and military personnel: S.1084 : A bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans;
On global warmingS.1324 : A bill to amend the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuel sold in the United States;S.1389 : A bill to authorize the National Science Foundation to establish a Climate Change Education Program; S.AMDT.599 to S.CON.RES.21 To add $200 million for Function 270 (Energy) for the demonstration and monitoring of carbon capture and sequestration technology by the Department of Energy. (This last one passed both the House and the Senate as part of the budget bill.)
On campaign finance and lobbyists S.2030 : A bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require reporting relating to bundled contributions made by persons other than registered lobbyists; and S.AMDT.41 to S.1 To require lobbyists to disclose the candidates, leadership PACs, or political parties for whom they collect or arrange contributions, and the aggregate amount of the contributions collected or arranged.
On Blackwater S.2044 : A bill to provide procedures for the proper classification of employees and independent contractors, and for other purposes, and S.2147 : A bill to require accountability for contractors and contract personnel under Federal contracts, and for other purposes.
On global poverty S.2433 : A bill to require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day.
On global nuclear proliferation S.1977 : A bill to provide for sustained United States leadership in a cooperative global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, stop the spread of nuclear weapons and related material and technology, and support the responsible and peaceful use of nuclear technology.
I counted nine education bills, but it's getting late and I've got to get my kids ready for bed.
As I mentioned earlier, Clinton is a frequent co-sponsor on many of Obama's bills. So is Ted Kennedy. So are a number of Republicans.
Finally, Obama appears to have a better record last year in the Senate on getting his bills and amendments passed than does Clinton. I've listed everything that passed the Senate for each them at the end in boxes. But check out Thomas.loc.gov for yourself. I may have missed something.
In my eyes Obama is the superior choice in every way. He cares about more of the issues that matter to me. Kids and health care are important but so is the issue of global warming, on which Clinton introduced not a single bill last year.
Obama is a leader. With bigger majorities in Congress, much of his agenda should sail through. He can inspire this country to change course on so many things, from health care to global warming, where attitudes have to be changed first. I remember Bill Clinton's endless laundry lists of small, focus group approved initiatives. For those who say Hillary will not govern like Bill did, I respond that the people who were doing the market testing of his proposed policies were Dick Morris, of course, and Mark Penn, who is now running Hillary's campaign.
It's Obama for me! I just sent him $100. My first donation this election.
Yes, We Can!
S.694 : A bill to direct the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations to reduce the incidence of child injury and death occurring inside or outside of light motor vehicles, and for other purposes. (This is currently in conference committee to reconcile difference with the House bill)
Passed in the Senate:
S.CON.RES.27 : A concurrent resolution supporting the goals and ideals of "National Purple Heart Recognition Day".
S.RES.21 : A resolution recognizing the uncommon valor of Wesley Autrey of New York, New York
S.RES.92 : A resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of soldiers of Israel held captive by Hamas and Hezbollah.
S.RES.141 : A resolution urging all member countries of the International Commission of the International Tracing Service who have yet to ratify the May 2006 amendments to the 1955 Bonn Accords to expedite the ratification process to allow for open access to the Holocaust archives located at Bad Arolsen, Germany.
S.RES.222 : A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
S.AMDT.666 to H.R.1591 To link award fees under Department of Homeland Security contracts to successful acquisition outcomes under such contracts.
S.AMDT.2047 to H.R.1585 To specify additional individuals eligible to transportation for survivors of deceased members of the Armed Forces to attend their burial ceremonies.
S.AMDT.2108 to H.R.1585 To require a report on the planning and implementation of the policy of the United States toward Darfur.
S.AMDT.2390 to H.R.2638 To require that all contracts of the Department of Homeland Security that provide award fees link such fees to successful acquisition outcomes.
S.AMDT.2474 to H.R.2638 To ensure that the Federal Protective Service has adequate personnel.
S.AMDT.2823 to H.R.3074 To require a report on plans to alleviate congestion and flight delays in the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Airspace.
S.AMDT.2917 to H.R.1585 To extend and enhance the authority for temporary lodging expenses for members of the Armed Forces in areas subject to a major disaster declaration or for installations experiencing a sudden increase in personnel levels.
S.AMDT.1041 to S.1082 To improve the safety and efficacy of genetic tests.
S.AMDT.3073 to H.R.1585 To provide for transparency and accountability in military and security contracting.
S.AMDT.3078 to H.R.1585 Relating to administrative separations of members of the Armed Forces for personality disorder.
S.AMDT.41 to S.1 To require lobbyists to disclose the candidates, leadership PACs, or political parties for whom they collect or arrange contributions, and the aggregate amount of the contributions collected or arranged.
S.AMDT.524 to S.CON.RES.21 To provide $100 million for the Summer Term Education Program supporting summer learning opportunities for low-income students in the early grades to lessen summer learning losses that contribute to the achievement gaps separating low-income students from their middle-class peers.
S.AMDT.599 to S.CON.RES.21 To add $200 million for Function 270 (Energy) for the demonstration and monitoring of carbon capture and sequestration technology by the Department of Energy.
S.AMDT.905 to S.761 To require the Director of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education to establish a program to recruit and provide mentors for women and underrepresented minorities who are interested in careers in mathematics, science, and engineering.
S.AMDT.923 to S.761 To expand the pipeline of individuals entering the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields to support United States innovation and competitiveness.
S.AMDT.924 to S.761 To establish summer term education programs.
S.AMDT.2519 to H.R.2638 To provide that one of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5 million or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee certifies in writing to the agency awarding the contract or grant that the contractor or grantee owes no past due Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.2588 to H.R.976 To provide certain employment protections for family members who are caring for members of the Armed Forces recovering from illnesses and injuries incurred on active duty.
S.AMDT.2658 to H.R.2642 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.2692 to H.R.2764 To require a comprehensive nuclear threat reduction and security plan.
S.AMDT.2799 to H.R.3074 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.3137 to H.R.3222 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.3234 to H.R.3093 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.3331 to H.R.3043 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
Senate Resolutions Passed:
S.RES.133 : A resolution celebrating the life of Bishop Gilbert Earl Patterson.
S.RES.268 : A resolution designating July 12, 2007, as "National Summer Learning Day".
Added:I realize, of course that several of these amendments are exactly the same. They were added to spending bills. My only reason for including them is for completeness. They are not here to pad out Obama's record. Furthermore, I want to make clear that I only looked at one single year, 2007. This is not meant as a comprehensive review of either candidate's entire Senate record. If you are interested in doing your own research, please go to http://thomas.loc.gov and look it up.