Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign slogan, “change you can
believe in” could easily be the metaphor for his short but explosive
political career. The question is whether Obama has been able to
convert that catchphrase into sweeping change of the federal
government. The president’s reelection will likely depend on it.
During his first year in office, Obama saw his approval ratings
sink and the loss of the Democrats filibuster-proof 60-seat Senate
majority with the triumph of Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts. But
in March 2010, the president managed to rally the troops and pass
historic health-care reform legislation expanding coverage to 32
million Americans and outlawing certain insurance company practices
like refusing to cover those with preexisting conditions. “This is
what change looks like,” Obama proclaimed post-vote.
But the president headed into 2010 with several hurdles to
implementing his legislative agenda, which included a major
financial regulatory reform package and a jobs bill. At the start of
that year, he assumed a more populist tone and proposed a spending
freeze in his 2011 budget for discretionary spending, along with a
tax on big banks to calm public furor over large compensation
Though those initiatives seemed designed to channel a middle
course, they angered the president’s liberal base, which wanted the
public option included in the health-care measure. Obama’s
left-flank was also irate about a December 2009 decision to send
30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
The president paid in the 2010 midterm elections that saw the rise
of the tea party and the loss of the House majority to Republicans
and the seizing of six Senate seats by the GOP.
Despite those setbacks, the former community activist and one-term
Illinois senator has already ushered in change in a variety of ways:
through his race as the nation’s first African-American president,
and through his potentially revolutionary political tactics that
involved reaching out to average citizens through the Internet in
On April 4, 2011, Obama announced he intended to run for
reelection to a second term in 2012 with a low-key video on his web
site, which touted the slogan “Are You In?”
His reelection may be influenced by the successful May 2011 U.S.
raid to capture and kill al-Qaeda leader and the man behind the
Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, the
world’s most-wanted terrorist, Osama bin-Laden. bin Laden was found
hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Obama has said American cannot recover from its economic crisis
without getting financial control of entitlement programs including
Medicare. Obama did not support Republican Paul Ryan’s
Medicare-overhaul plan in the 2012 House GOP budget and instead
introduced an alternative that retained the outlines of the current
program but added spending limits.
Medicare reform: Obama vs. Ryan