by StrangeAnimals [Subscribe]
Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 11:07:15 PM PDT
What the heck are these numbers? If you've not yet seen them, get to know them well. They are the numbers of laws and bills Barack Obama has sponsored or authored in his twelve years as a legislator - eight in the Illinois Senate, and now in his fourth in the U.S. Senate.
In eight years in Illinois, State Senator Obama sponsored 820 bills that became law. The Illinois Times, in a cover story, labeled Obama as "Head Of The Class" for his legislative abundance.
And in just four years as a U.S. Senator, Obama has sponsored 427 bills, and authored 152 bills. For a detailed list, follow the link.
So when you hear or read someone, such as former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska Sarah Palin stating that Obama has not authored "a single major law or even a reform", send them this list:
Co-sponsored with Richard Lugar (R-IN) legislation funding the destruction or securing of "loose" nuclear weapons in other countries. This was a major piece of nonproliferation legislation.
Co-sponsored, again with Lugar, the first federal bill dedicated to pandemic flu preparedness, including vaccine research and antiviral stockpiling, in addition to state and local planning and preparedness measures.
Sponsored a bill regulating genetic testing, which directed the government to develop special proficiency tests for labs that do genetics work.
Co-sponsored, with Hillary Clinton(!), legislation to help hospitals to develop programs for disclosure of medical errors They even co-wrote an article for the New England Journal of Medicine on the subject.
Introduced his "health care for hybrids" bill, an energy security bill, various bills on relief for Hurricane Katrina (including aid for kids and a ban on no-bid contracts by FEMA)
Introduced legislation, which passed, to create a public database of all federal spending and contracts
Introduced legislation trying to raise CAFE standards, i.e. mileage standards for US-produced vehicles
Introduced veteran's health care legislation
Introduced legislation making certain kinds of voter intimidation illegal
Introduced a lobbying reform bill
Introduced legislation to revamps ethics oversight, replacing the present Congressional ethics committee with a bipartisan commission of retired judges and members of Congress, and allowing any citizen to report ethics violations.
Introduced legislation to suspend and repeal certain tax incentives for the oil and gas industry
Introduced a joint resolution clarifying that the use of force against Iran is not authorized by the AUMF Against Iraq, or any other resolution previously adopted
Introduced a bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans
Introduced a bill to amend the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuel sold in the US
Introduced a bill to authorize the National Science Foundation to establish a Climate Change Education Program
Introduced a bill to required accountability for contractors and contract personnel (e.g. Blackwater) under federal contracts
Introduced a bill to require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the U.S. foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, and the elimination of extreme global poverty.
Yes, a lot of these are wonky, and perhaps unexciting to the average voter, but look at them closely: they are all meaningful. And keep in mind that Senator Obama has only been in Washington for three and a half years.
Here's another way of looking at Senator Obama's record: Of the 15 bills he sponsored or co-sponsored in 2005-7 that became law,
*2 addressed foreign policy (promote relief, security, and democracy in the Congo; and develop democratic institutions in areas under Palestinian control)
*3 addressed public health (improve mine safety; increased breast cancer research funding; reduce preterm delivery and complications, reduce infant mortality)
*2 addressed openness and accountability in government (strengthening the Freedom Of Information Act; full disclosure of all entities receiving federal funds)
*2 addressed national security (extend terrorist risk insurance; amend the Patriot Act)
*1 addressed the needs of the Armed Forces (wave passport fees to visit graves, attend memorials/funerals of veterans abroad)
And of the hundreds of bills Senator Obama introduced during the 109th and 110th Congress:
*25 addressed energy efficiency and climate change
*21 addressed health care
*20 addressed public health
*14 addressed consumer protection/labor
*13 addressed the needs of veterans and of active duty personnel and their families
*12 addressed congressional ethics and accountability
*10 addressed foreign policy
*9 addressed voting/election rights
*7 addressed education
*6 addressed relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina
*5 addressed the environment
*4 addressed discrimination
*4 addressed homeland security
Truth is, Senator Obama has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of pieces of really good legislation, many on topics not wildly sexy, but meaningful nonetheless. His bills tend to be good and thoughtful bills that try to solve real problems. They tend to focus on achieving solutions acceptable to all concerned, not by compromising on principle, but by genuinely crafting solutions everyone can get behind.
His legislation is often proposed with Republican co-sponsorship. Obama tries to find people, both Democrats and Republicans, who actually care enough about a particular issue to try and get policy right, and then he works with them. This does not involve compromising on principle, but rather on getting things done.
So while Obama has not proposed his Cosmic Plan for World Peace, he has proposed a lot of good legislation on important though under-covered topics. He takes a patient, craftsman-like attitude towards legislation, caring just as much about the getting the parts right that no one will notice unless they go wrong as about the flashy parts.
Isn't it time all of Washington worked in this manner?
It's past time, and remember those numbers, so you can spread the truth.