President Obama has received a considerable amount of criticism during his time in office, from conservatives, liberals and independents alike. Many liberals and independents claim to feel betrayed by the president, because he has not followed through with many of the idealistic promises made during his campaign (as if a president of any party could follow through with promises in the face of our rigidly divided Congress, Senate and House of Representatives). Conservatives, on the other hand, have had a vendetta against Obama from the get-go, maintaining that his particular (liberal, communist) plan of action would be—and is now—detrimental rather than beneficial to the country’s future.
Regardless, there are several very momentous things Obama has done for the United States of America, both in policy changes and by simply being a primary figurehead that isn’t a blubbering idiot, which critics from either side cannot ignore. He has (somewhat) effectively ended the Iraq War and extended health care to millions by signing the Health Care Reform bill. He has improved the quality of life of marginalized groups by repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, increasing funding for the Violence Against Women Act, expanding U.S. hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and appointing more openly gay officials than any president in the country’s history.
Yesterday, Obama made yet another historic decision when he rejected a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would transport oil from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, threatening to pollute water supplies, kill wildlife and, in the event of a rupture, completely devastate the country’s health and economy. Proponents for Keystone maintain that the project would create 20,000 jobs in the U.S., proposing a potentially devastatingly permanent solution for a temporary problem. However, the vice president of Transcanada, the company responsible for the pipeline, told CNN last fall that these jobs would be temporary and that the project would most likely only yield “hundreds” of permanent positions.
While Obama’s ruling is not the end all and be all of the Keystone XL, it is a stern response to a haphazard deadline imposed by hasty Republicans. In 2010, the U.S. Department of State extended the deadline for a Keystone decision, leaving time for federal agencies to determine if the pipeline would be in the country’s best interest. In November 2011, Obama extended this deadline to 2013. However, by November 30, Senate Republicans had introduced legislation intended to force Obama to approve Keystone within 60 days. In an official statement, President Obama said that his decision to block construction on the pipeline comes from “the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans” because it “prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment.”
Still wondering what the f*** else Obama has done for us so far? Find out here.