As I'm sure we all know today is President Obama's 100th day in office. I don't plan to watch any of the hoopla going on on the teevee machine today, but I did find this nice article on the Huffington Post about the 10 achievements that were under-reported in the last 100 days. I think it's a rather impressive list.
Follow me over the jump for the list and some other goodies.
First, the list (I'm cutting some stuff out to keep it legal):
- Health Care: The Obama White House cleared an important hurdle in the health care reform debate when it appropriated $19 billion in the stimulus package to help implement an electronic medical record system.
- Communications: A presidential campaign built on innovative messaging and advanced technology has, naturally, become a White House defined by similar characteristics. As such, the reach of the administration's new media efforts - from hosting online question-and-answer sessions with the president to publishing the first White House blog - has been as expected as appreciated. [Muzikal Note: They have a point here, I didn't even realize they streamed almost everything on the WH website, they even had streams up for all of the Easter Egg Roll events! I love it :o)]
- Transportation: Since the passage of the economic stimulus package in mid-February, the Obama Department of Transportation has approved 2,500 highway projects. The movement of stimulus money out the door has been as swift as it has been effective: $9.3 billion has been spent in all 50 states
- Education: [A] $2,500 tax credit to help offset the cost of tuition (among other expenses) for those seeking a college education. Nearly five million families are expected to save $9 billion, according to Treasury officials. [Muzikal Note: I don't recall hearing about this one, kudos to the Education peeps!]
- Cars: Perhaps the most significant of steps was to allocate $2 billion in stimulus cash for advanced batteries systems.
- Pakistan: Cognizant of a destabilizing situation in Pakistan, the administration's diplomatic team, with a major assist from Japan, secured $5 billion in aid commitments "to bolster the country's economy and help it fight terror and Islamic radicalism" within the country.
- Cities: Through the Recovery Act, DOJ secured $2 billion for Byrne Grants, which funds anti-gang and anti-gun task forces. The money, cut during the Bush years, is expected to have massive ramifications on inner-city crime and violence. [Muzikal Note: this is a pretty big deal, especially for people who were saying that Obama was somehow getting SOFT on gun Control
- Engaging the Muslim World: While certainly discussed, foreign affairs experts insist that Obama's engagement with the Muslim world has been at once remarkable and under-appreciated. From the first interview with Al Arabiya to his Nowruz address to the Iranian people, to his proclamation that "American is not at war with Islam" during an appearance in Turkey, seasoned observers have been routinely impressed. "Through these [statements and interviews]," said one Democratic foreign policy hand, "He has been able to dramatically change America's image in that region."
- Forests: Since taking office, the White House has put under federal protection more than two million acres of wilderness, thousands of miles of river and a host of national trails and parks.
- Tone: "Despite record job loss," said one Democratic aide, "there's still hope in America." Indeed, from the beginning of his presidency the percentage of people who believe the nation is headed in the right direction has risen from 19 percent to 42 percent, according to a recent ABC News-Washington Post Poll. Minus that calming influence, these numbers don't exist and neither does the Obama agenda as we know it.
It's been a pretty awesome 100 days. I think I've been most impressed by the fact that he's STILL doing town halls. When he leaves DC it's not merely to go on vacation, he's staying connected with the people. Also, did you know that he reads 10 letters from regular people every day AND writes them back PERSONALLY in his own hand? I'm not saying he has someone type a letter and signs it, he WRITES it all himself. Little things like that tell me that he's serious about staying connected to the regular people who aren't in the DC chattering class.
And don't even get me started on how awesome Mrs. Obama has been doing these last 100 days, her numbers are through the roof (she's like way more popular than her husband ~lol~) and why not? What's not to love?
and for the goodies, click here. Here are some of my favorites from that awesome collection of pictures (if you have time you should really go check out the whole stream):
And now he's getting ready to do another town hall in Missouri! It's on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX (TV), cnn.com/live, and there's an audio-only version on the whitehouse.gov/live website.
I'll liveblog the Q&A best I can:
Question #1: Retired auto worker, wants to know where are his plans going to leave retirees from the auto industry.
Answer: Obama wants us to get back to making things, and not just shuffling papers around, and the auto industry is a big part of that. Decisions made in previous decades ultimately weren't good decisions for the auto industry. Now Detroit is starting to make good cars, but they are playing catch up and the companies are in really bad shape. Bush's administration gave them a bunch of aid and told them to come up with a plan, and Obama's administration didn't think they came up with good plans. "We have the best workers, they just didn't have the best plans." We can't just keep giving them money because taxpayers will get tired of it. We will protect the retirees even though management messed up.
I admit, I wasn't clear on this question, or his answer. . .
Question #2: What is the biggest challenge facing the educational system today, and how do you plan on meeting those challenges?
Answer: We have a lot of problems, so let me talk about several. Our children are coming out of high school, and in some cases they don't even graduate from there, ranked lower on math, science scores than many other advanced industrialized countries. If we aren't able to compete technologically, we won't be able to compete. We have to upgrade across the board with regards to the performance levels of our young people. We can't just rely on labor. The single most important factor in the classroom is the quality of the teachers which is why we are putting so much into making teachers better. If you've got a bad teacher who just really sucks even with all of the help, they need a new profession. Not everyone is going to go straight to a post-secondary school, so we need to make a way for people to be able to go back and continue their educations. He can talk about this stuff forever. Also, the parents need to be involved and encourage their kids to succeed. Kids need to be reminded it's a privilege to learn, and "it's cool to be smart." The smartest kid in the school needs to get as much attention as the basketball star
Am I the only one who wonders how they always know who Obama's picking for the questions? LOL
MSNBC cut out on TV, but CNN is still showing it.
Question #3: (a junior in the high school) How are you going to protect Social Security?
Answer: Your social security tax is paying for current retirees, and hopefully people working when you get old will be paying for YOUR social security. The problem here, which is solveable, is that there are a lot of babyboomers, and even though they deny it they are getting old. So there's a big bulge of retirees, and not as many workers. Social Security is not going bankrupt, but we do need to change the way things are being done. We could keep borrowing money from China, but that's not a good idea because we do have to pay that back. The second option is to gradually raise the retirement age, which isn't a good option either because people already have to wait until they are 67 and if you're working on an assembly line, that's a tough deal. If you're a Senator you can work until whenever (lol). You could cut benefits, or raise the payroll tax on everyone, or you can do what he thinks is the best solution and raise the CAP on the payroll tax. Whether you are Bill Gates, or a regular person, you pay the same rate on your payroll taxes, but it gets capped out at $102,000, so regular people pay payroll on every thing you earn, but if you're Bill Gates, you're paying a lot less. So he wants to raise the cap on wealthier people. Of course not everyone is crazy about this idea, so he's trying to get a consensus.
Question #4: How will alternative medicine fit in your new health care program?
Answer:I think we should do what works. I will let the science guide me [Muzikal note: isn't that refreshing?]
Question #5: (sorry, missed this one)
Question #6: (from a fourth grader) How is your administration planning on being more environmentally friendly?
Answer: There are some short term things we can do and some long term things we can do. We passed a public lands bill that protects many more acres of land from logging, mining, and other uses. If we cut down trees, but we need to do it in a way that sustains the forest. Sometimes the debate becomes an all or nothing proposition, and that's just not the way it works. Also promotes cap and trade and alternative energy.
I'll add pics later. KUDOS to CNN for playing the WHOLE THING un-interrupted, MSNBC- you suck!
UPDATES: As Promised, the pics from the town hall:
Also, the prepared remarks from the town hall (I cut out the shout outs):
It is great to be back in the middle of America, where common sense often reigns. (Applause.) And this reminds me of why I like to get out of Washington now and again.
The last time I was in Missouri was just under six months ago, at a high school a lot like this one. We were in Springfield; it was two days before the election, and I was making my final case to the American people. And it was just an unbelievable crowd, bigger than anything anybody had expected. And so we're here in Missouri to -- we were here in Missouri at the end of a long journey to the White House, and so now I want to come back and speak to you at the beginning of another long journey. Today marks 100 days since I took the oath of office to be your President. (Applause.) One hundred days. It's a good thing. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Now, back in November, some folks were surprised that we showed up in Springfield at the end of our campaign. But then again, some folks were surprised that we even started our campaign in the first place. (Laughter.) They didn't give us much of a chance. They didn't think we could do things differently. They didn't know if this country was ready to move in a new direction.
But here's the thing -- my campaign wasn't born in Washington. My campaign was rooted in neighborhoods just like this one, in towns and cities all across America; rooted in folks who work hard and look after their families and seek a brighter children -- future for their children and for their communities and for their country.
It was driven by workers who were tired of seeing their jobs shipped overseas, their health care costs go up, their dreams slip out of reach. (Applause.) It was grounded in a sense of unity and common purpose with every single American, whether they voted for me on Election Day or voted for somebody else. It was energized by every citizen who believed that the size of our challenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics. My campaign was possible because the American people wanted change.
I ran for President because I wanted to carry those voices -- your voices -- with me to Washington. (Applause.) And so I just want everybody to understand: You're who I'm working for every single day in the White House. I've heard your stories; I know you sent me to Washington because you believed in the promise of a better day. And I don't want to let you down.
You believed that after an era of selfishness and greed, that we could reclaim a sense of responsibility on Wall Street and in Washington, as well as on Main Street. You believed that instead of huge inequalities and an economy that's built on a bubble, we could restore a sense of fairness to our economy and build a new foundation for lasting growth and prosperity. You believed that at a time of war, we could stand strong against our enemies and stand firmly for our ideals, and show a new face of American leadership to the world.
That's the change that you believed in. That's the trust you placed in me. It's something I will never forget, the fact that you made this possible.
So today, on my 100th day in office, I've come to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we've begun the work of remaking America. (Applause.) We're working to remake America.
Now, we've got a lot of work to do, because on our first day in office we found challenges of unprecedented size and scope. Our economy was in the midst of the most serious downturn since the Great Depression. Banks had stopped lending. The housing market was crippled. The deficit was at $1.3 trillion. And meanwhile, families continued to struggle with health care costs, too many of our kids couldn't get the education they needed, the nation remained trapped by our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.
Now, these challenges could not be met with half-measures. They couldn't be met with the same old formulas. They couldn't be confronted in isolation. They demanded action that was bold and sustained. They demand action that is bold and sustained. They call on us to clear away the wreckage of a painful recession, but also, at the same time, lay the building blocks for a new prosperity. And that's the work that we've begun over these first 100 days.
To jumpstart job creation and get our economy moving again, we passed the most ambitious economic recovery plan in our nation's history. And already, we're beginning to see this change take hold. In Jefferson City, over 2,500 jobs will be created on Missouri's largest wind farm, so that American workers are harnessing clean, American energy. (Applause.) Across the state, roughly 20,000 transportation jobs will be supported by the Recovery Act, so that Missourians are rebuilding your roads, your bridges, your rails.
To restore fairness to our economy, we've taken several steps with Congress to strengthen the middle class. We cut taxes for 95 percent of American households through a tax cut that will put $120 billion directly into your pockets. (Applause.) We finally signed a law long overdue that will protect equal pay for equal work for American women. (Applause.) We extended health care to millions of children across this country. (Applause.)
We launched a housing plan that has already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut for them. And if you haven't refinanced, you might want to take a look and see if it's possible, because that can save people a lot of money. We've taken steps to unfreeze the market for auto loans and student loans and small business loans. And we're acting with the full force of the federal government to ensure that our banks have the capital and the confidence to lend money to the families and business owners who keep this economy running.
Now, even as we cleared away the wreckage, I've also said that we can't go back to an economy that's built on a pile of sand -- on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards; on over-leveraged banks and outdated regulations that allowed the recklessness of just a few people to threaten the prosperity of all of us.
So that's why I introduced a budget and other measures that build on the Recovery Act to lay a new foundation for growth -- a foundation that's built on five pillars that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century: number one, new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training; number two, new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries; number three, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; number four, new savings that will bring down our deficit; and number five, new rules for Wall Street that reward drive and innovation. (Applause.)
Now, I've got to say that some of the people in Washington have been surprised -- they said, boy, he's so ambitious; he's been trying to do so much. Now, maybe they're not accustomed to this, but there's no mystery to what we've done. The priorities that we've acted upon were the things that we said we'd do during the campaign. (Applause.) I mean, it's not like anybody should be surprised. The policies we've proposed were plans we talked about for two years, in places like this, all across the country with ordinary Americans. The changes that we've made are the changes we promised. That's what you should expect from a President. You may not always agree with me, but if you take a look at what I said I was going to do when I was running for office, and you now look at what we are in the middle of doing -- we're doing what we said we'd do. (Applause.)
Now, after 100 days, I'm pleased with the progress we've made, but I'm not satisfied. I'm confident in the future, but I'm not content with the present -- not when there are workers who are still out of jobs, families who still can't pay their bills; not when there are too many Americans who can't afford their health care, so many of our children being left behind and our nation is not leading the world in developing 21st century energy. I'm not satisfied. And I know you aren't either. The crisis that we're confronting was many years in the making; it will take us time to overcome it. We've come a long way, we can see the light on the horizon, but we've got a much longer journey ahead.
And one of the encouraging things for me is the fact that the American people know this. You know that our progress has to be measured in the results that we achieve over many months and years, not the minute-by-minute talk in the media. And you know that progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I'm not a miracle worker. We've got a lot of tough choices and hard decisions and hard work ahead of us. The 100th day might be a good time to reflect on where we are, but it's more important to where we're going that we focus on the future, because we can't rest until our economy is growing and we've built that new foundation for our prosperity.
We can't rest until we reform those outdated rules and regulations that allowed this crisis to happen in the first place. And that's why I've called for tough, new, common-sense rules of the road that punish abuse and reward drive and innovation in the financial sector. I expect a bill to arrive on my desk for signature before this year is out. We are going to make sure this kind of crisis does not happen again. (Applause.)
We can't rest until we have schools that prepare our children for the challenges of the 21st century. And we've already made historic investments in education and college affordability. I was talking to your superintendent about all the wonderful things that she's going to be able to do with some of the money that came out of the recovery package. We're going to continue to help our schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we're going to reward teachers for performance and give them new pathways for advancement. (Applause.) We are going to seek the goal of once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world -- we're going to do it by 2020. (Applause.)
We can't rest until we harness the renewable energy that can create millions of new jobs and new industries. The Recovery Act will double the supply of renewable energy, but the only way to truly spark an energy transformation is through a gradual, market-based cap on carbon pollution so that energy, clean energy is the profitable kind of energy. And we can do this in a way that creates jobs. That's how we can grow our economy, enhance our security, and protect our planet at the same time.
I don't think we can rest until we have a 21st century health care system that makes sense -- (applause) -- one that cuts costs for families and businesses across America. That's why we invested in preventative care, we've invested in electronic records; that's why my budget makes a down payment on reform that will finally make quality health care affordable for every American. And I look forward to working with both parties in Congress to make this reform a reality in the months to come.
And we can't rest until we restore the fiscal discipline that will keep us from leaving our children with a mountain of debt. And working with people like Claire McCaskill, we have already put forward a budget that will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. We've launched a procurement reform effort that will greatly reduce no-bid contracts and will save $40 billion. We're going through the budget line by line, page by page; we've already identified more than 100 programs to reduce or eliminate because they don't work. And I've personally asked the leadership in Congress to pass into law rules that follow the simple principle: You pay for what you spend -- so that government acts the same way any responsible family does. If you want a tax cut, you got to pay for it; if you want a new program, you got to pay for it. Tell the American people the truth -- how are you going to pay for it? (Applause.)
And finally, we can't rest until America is secure and our leadership is restored. And that's why I've begun to end the war in Iraq through a responsible transition to Iraqi control. It is their country, they need to take control. (Applause.) That's why we have a new strategy to disrupt and dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's why we've renewed our diplomacy to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, to speak directly to our adversaries, and strengthen relations in the hemisphere.
And that's why we have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals. That's why I ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo; that's why I prohibited the use of torture -- (applause) -- because America is stronger than any enemy -- and we always have been -- precisely because we do what's right not just when it's easy, but when it's hard. That's what sets us apart.
We're living through extraordinary times. We didn't ask for all the challenges that we face, but we're determined to answer the call to meet them. That's that spirit I see everywhere I go. That's the spirit we need to sustain, because the answer to our problems will ultimately be found in the character of the American people. We need soldiers and diplomats, scientists, teachers, workers, entrepreneurs. We need your service; we need your active citizenship. That's why I recently signed a bill that will create hundreds of thousands of opportunities for the American people to serve. That's why I will continue to ask for your help and your ideas and your support to make the changes that we need.
I want to warn you, there will be setbacks. It will take time. But I promise you I will always tell you the truth about the challenges that we face and the steps that we are taking to meet them. I will continue to measure my progress by the progress that you see in your own lives. And I believe that years from now we are going to be able to look back at this time as the moment when the American people once again came together to reclaim their future. (Applause.) That's what this is about.
Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)
Source (there's also an actual transcript of the questions and his answers too)