Now the first 100 day of the Obama Administration was not as dramatic as the first 100 days of the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, but in my view it’s pretty impressive especially considering how polarized the 111th Congress is.

Here is a listing of the  federal legislation passed during President Obama’s first 100 days:

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (SCHIP)
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)
Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009
Omnibus Public Land Management Act
Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

Lets start with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  This became law on January 29, 2009.  This bill amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck.

The law was a direct answer to  Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. a 2007 Supreme Court decision that stated that the statue of limitations begins on the date that the rate of pay was  agreed upon not the date of the most recent paycheck that a lower court had ruled.

Republicans claimed that this bill would help to initiate frivolous lawsuits and would be unfair to business.  Democrats supported the bill claiming that it would make it easier for employees to combat wage discrimination.

The next bill enacted was the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (SCHIP).  This is a program that provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. The program was designed with the intent to cover uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.

This was in essence a renewal of this program that was originally a part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

SCHIP is a partnership between federal and state governments. The programs are run by the individual states according to requirements set by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. States may design their SCHIP programs as an independent program separate from Medicaid (separate child health programs), use SCHIP funds to expand their Medicaid program (SCHIP Medicaid expansion programs), or combine these approaches (SCHIP combination programs). States receive enhanced federal funds for their SCHIP programs at a rate above the regular Medicaid match.

The bill was passed by a mostly party line vote in both houses and became law on February 4, 2009.

The next bill put into law was the  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  This act became law on February 17, 2009.  This law is commonly referred to as the stimulus package that was enacted to stimulate the economy that was in the throws of a deep recession of which we are still trying to recover from.

This is a very complicated bill.  To briefly sum it up you could say that the government attempted to pump money into the economy in a Keynesian style  way.  In short it was a kind of mini New Deal.  It provided funds for various public works projects and provided tax breaks and incentives for businesses and individuals as well.  I plan on discussing this act in a later installment on this blog.  you could write books on this act alone.  There is a lot more to this act than what I’ve stated here.

The next act to discuss is the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009. This became law on March 11, 2009.  This act combines bills funding the operations of each of the Cabinet departments, except Defense, Homeland Security, and Veteran Affairs into a single appropriation bill. This bill passed on pretty much party lines as well.

The act to pass is the   Omnibus Public Land Management Act. This act became law on March 30, 2009.  This is a very complex act broken up into 15 Titles.  I will list each separately in order to make it easier to explain.

Title I

Title I of the bill designates two million acres of wilderness in nine states (California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia) for protection through addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Title II

Title II establishes a National Landscape Conservation System, to include Bureau of Land Management-administered National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, components of the National Trails System, components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and components of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

It also designates three new National Conservation Areas as well as transferring lands in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Washington to federal control.

Title III

Title III authorizes the United States Secretary of Agriculture to, through the Chief of the United States Forest Service, conduct studies in the interest of preserving open space in southern Colorado and deliver an annual report on the wildland firefighter safety practices…including training programs and activities for wildland fire suppression, prescribed burning, and wildland fire use, during the preceding calendar year.

Title IV

Title IV authorizes the Chief of the Forest Service to solicit (from regional foresters) nominations of forest landscapes of at least 50,000 acres, primarily consisting of national forest lands, which are in need of active ecosystem restoration, for the carrying out of ecological restoration treatments. The Chief, acting on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture, then may select up to ten of these proposals, aided by a fifteen-member advisory board, to be funded in any given fiscal year. For each proposal selected, 50% of the expenditures of the execution and monitoring of ecological restoration treatments would be paid for by a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund in the United States Treasury. However, each proposal’s expenditures are limited to $4 million per year.

Title V

Title V designates thousands of miles of new additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. It also adds six trails to the National Trails System.

Title VI

Title VI creates a number of new United States Department of the Interior programs.

Another part of Title VI, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act.  This provision establishes stronger penalties than previously required for nonpermitted removal of scientifically significant fossils from federal lands.

Title VII

Title VII makes three additions to the National Park System and expands current National Park designations. It also authorizes an American Battlefield Protection Program, a Preserve America program, a Save America’s Treasures Program, and a Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, all to be carried out by the National Park Service.

Title VIII

Title VIII designates ten new National Heritage Areas .

Title IX

Title IX authorizes three new studies to examine new reclamation projects under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation. It also creates 15 new water and endangered fish projects in four states. F Title IX also puts some federal water reclamation facilities under local control and funds conservation efforts.

Title X

Title X codifies the settlements of three water disputes in California, Nevada, and New Mexico. This will help end years of litigation between these states in regards to water rights which is a huge issue in the West.

Title XI

Title XI reauthorizes the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 as well as  authorizing groundwater surveys in New Mexico.

Title XII

Title XII creates five new oceanic observation, research, and exploration programs including programs for undersea research, undersea and coastal mapping, acidification research, and ocean conservation.

Title XIII

Amends the Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act of 2000 and the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act.

Title XIV

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, provides  for coordinated paralysis research by the National Institutes of Health.

Title XV

Grants the Smithsonian Institution funds to build laboratories and greenhouses at three Smithsonian institutions.

This is a very complex act which provides funding to many different projects.  In my view many of the projects listed here are helpful to stimulating money in a recession wracked economy.

The final piece of federal legislation passed during the first 100 days of the Obama Administration is the  Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. This bill became law on April 21, 2009.

In a nutshell this law expands reauthorizes and expands the Americorps which was created in 1993 and was one of the pet projects of President Bill Clinton who saw it as an updated version of the CCC.

Now if you go back and compare the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama during the beginning of both of their administrations you can easily come up to the conclusion that the Roosevelt Administration was more productive.

There are two factors that you have to take into consideration though.  First of all in 1933 we were in the middle of a deep depression and it was truly a national emergency.  One out of every four workers was unemployed, banks were failing and people were losing their homes to foreclosures at an alarming rate.

There was fear of revolution.  The Red Scare was still very prevalent at the time.  Farmers were even attacking bankers and attorneys at auctions to prevent their farms from being foreclosed.

The second factor was that President Roosevelt was not involved in the polarization that is so wide spread in today’s political arena.  Republicans in the 1930’s didn’t like what the President was proposing but they felt that he deserved a chance.  If it didn’t work then they would be back in power in four years.  I think that this should be a lesson for today’s GOP.

I think that President Obama has done an outstanding job and he has accomplished a lot in spite of all the opposition and interference that he has received from the other side.  You cannot for one minute claim that he has done nothing.  If the Republican’s weren’t so obstructionist, his first 100 days would have rivaled those of President Roosevelt.

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