Inteligencia y Seguridad Frente Externo En Profundidad Economia y Finanzas Transparencia
  En Parrilla Medio Ambiente Sociedad High Tech Contacto
Frente Externo  
02/11/2010 | Assessing Barack Obama

NYTimes Staff

A year after Barack Obama was elected president, he is juggling many of the issues that defined his candidacy — and then some. He is in the middle of lengthy debate over whether to expand the war in Afghanistan, and he continues to press for an overhaul of the health care system. While it will be years before it is possible to gauge the success of his governing agenda, Times reporters offer these assessments of his record on some of the issues so far.


Terrorism Suspects - Slow progress in closing Guantánamo Bay

As a candidate, Barack Obama said he would close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He also promised to sharply curtail the brutal interrogation techniques that had been approved for the Central Intelligence Agency’s use against terrorism suspects.

Two days after he was sworn in, he ordered the prison at Guantánamo Bay to be shut down by January 2010. At the same time, he directed C.I.A. interrogators to use only the noncoercive methods permitted by the Army Field Manual. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. took a further step in August announcing a preliminary criminal inquiry into whether C.I.A. interrogators broke the law using enhanced techniques against several detainees.

But Mr. Obama has gotten bogged down trying to fulfill his directive to close the prison within a year. Administration officials have acknowledged they have little chance of meeting the self-imposed deadline and admit privately that they underestimated the complexities involved. Most vexing: the unwillingness of other countries to accept large numbers of detainees and the administration’s inability to find locations in the United States to transfer prisoners for release or prosecution in the face of protests by lawmakers in both political parties.

Energy and Environment - Some progress, but the big fight is still ahead

As a candidate, Barack Obama called for a transformation in the way the United States produces and consumes energy to address global warming and to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. He supported an economy-wide cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by forcing utilities and industries to pay for the right to emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Some of the revenue was to be returned to consumers to cover higher energy costs; some was to be invested in renewable energy projects. He also called for much higher mileage standards for cars and light trucks as a way to cut oil imports.

President Obama, using executive rule-making authority, achieved a notable deal with automakers that will increase fuel efficiency and reduce tailpipe emissions by more than 30 percent by 2016. The stimulus package enacted early in the year included about $80 billion for renewable energy programs, transportation projects, energy efficiency, modernization of the electricity grid and research on capture and storage of carbon emissions. But the cap-and-trade proposal has stalled in Congress, stymied by industry lobbyists and regional concerns about job losses and higher energy prices. Mr. Obama’s pledge to tackle global warming in earnest fell victim to his and Congress’s focus on health care for much of the year and will have to wait until 2010 at the earliest.

Middle East - High hopes but slow progress in bringing together Arabs and Israelis

President Obama has kept his campaign promise not to wait until the end of his administration to begin his effort to resolve the seemingly intractable Arab-Israeli conflict. Just two days after he was inaugurated, Mr. Obama announced the appointment of former Senator George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy, and quickly dispatched him to the region. Mr. Obama also followed through on a campaign promise when he traveled to Cairo in June, where he gave a ground-breaking speech twice referring to Palestine in a way that put Palestinians on parallel footing with Israelis. And Mr. Obama — and his surrogates — pressed Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, on the contentious issue of a complete freeze in settlement expansion in the West Bank.

But all of that activity has not yielded much so far. In some respects, the atmosphere for talks has actually gotten worse as Mr. Netanyahu has balked at the administration’s demands. In September, Mr. Obama set aside his demand for a full freeze on settlements and announced that he was hop-scotching over preliminary confidence-building steps and going straight to the end-game: pressing Palestinians and Israelis to negotiate all the difficult issues between them in hopes of achieving a final deal, which American presidents have sought since 1979, when President Jimmy Carter brokered a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

Nuclear Proliferation - Arms cuts, and holding the line on Iran and North Korea

President Obama came into office with a plan to move toward zero American nuclear weapons – as long as he can persuade the rest of the world to move with him. Over the past year, he has described the pathway, but has barely begun moving toward the goal. He also promised engagement with Iran, a strategy that has yet to yield tangible results in curbing that nation’s nuclear program.

Negotiations with Russia are underway for a new round of arms cuts when the cold-war-era strategic arms reduction treaty expires next month, but that will be more a holding action than a change of course. The White House has plans to get the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was narrowly defeated 10 years ago. He also has plans to rewrite elements of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, closing some of its many loopholes.

President Obama’s biggest immediate challenges are Iran and North Korea and on both he has lost some ground. Iran now has the nuclear material to produce at least one weapon and it is delaying approval of a deal, negotiated in Vienna in October, that would temporarily ship its stockpile out of the country. North Korea was the administration’s strategic surprise: it greeted the new president with a nuclear test and there have been only the beginnings of contact with the country.

Iraq - Winding down one war while debating the widening of anotherPresident Obama’s national political identity was shaped by his early opposition to the invasion of Iraq, and he was elected a year ago on a vow to pull out all combat troops within 16 months of his inauguration.

It may end up being closer to 19 months.

To carry out his pledge, Mr. Obama ordered all American combat forces out of Iraq by August 31, 2010.

But 50,000 troops will remain to advise and support the Iraqis. That residual force may be doing jobs that look a lot like combat, in a mission that would continue until the last day of 2011, when all American troops must leave under terms of a treaty with the Iraqis.

The American commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, said in a recent interview that he could hit the 50,000 target even before next August if the coming round of national elections — expected as early as January — were to go smoothly. Iraqi politicians, however, continue to haggle over scheduling the vote.

So far, the renewed bombings that have claimed hundreds of lives in recent weeks have not prompted American commanders to slow their withdrawal plans; nor has the Iraqi government asked for American combat troops to move back into the cities from their bases outside of urban areas.

Budget - A fiscal kick for the economy in the short run, a daunting deficit down the road

Even as he engineered a $787 billion stimulative jolt to the economy soon after moving into the White House, President Obama promised to reduce the federal budget deficit by the end of his term, in the fiscal year 2013, to something more than $500 billion. That would be roughly half of what it was projected to be when he took office. His blueprint for getting there, however, mostly reflects economic growth and the end of stimulus spending, not significant program reductions.

The president’s bigger challenge is the unsustainable long-term fiscal imbalance, driven by fast-growing health care costs. Mr. Obama has said his health care initiative would be a big step toward fiscal reform because the changes he proposed would begin controlling costs for Medicare and Medicaid. He also promised to address the government’s third big entitlement program, Social Security, but Democratic Congressional leaders are opposed.

In a sense, the economy’s problems provided him an opportunity to make progress on other campaign pledges through the $787 billion two-year stimulus package that Congress passed a month after he took office. Beyond relief for the unemployed and hard-hit states, it included down-payments on a raft of Mr. Obama’s promises — for energy, education, environmental and health programs, and for tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses.

But the tax cuts and the domestic programs will be squeezed after 2010, when the stimulus runs out. Now, Mr. Obama is under pressure to reduce annual budget deficits projected to average nearly $1 trillion a year through the decade.

Social Issues - A break with eight years of conservative dominance

President Obama campaigned on the promise of a sharp break from the Bush era on social issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and gay rights. He has only partly delivered.

Mr. Obama moved quickly to lift Mr. Bush’s limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and to repeal the so-called Mexico City rule, which prohibited tax dollars from going to organizations that provide abortions overseas. But while he promised to work for legislation codifying a woman’s right to have an abortion, he now says that is “not my highest legislative priority.”

On gay rights, Mr. Obama fulfilled a major campaign promise in late October, when he signed legislation expanding the federal definition of violent hate crimes to include those based on sexual orientation. But the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, remains on the books despite Mr. Obama’s pledge to work to undo it. And the president has delayed action on the promise most important to gay rights advocates: reversing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Education - More money, and an effort to reward schools and approaches that work

President Obama’s main education promises were to increase funding for early childhood education, improve the recruitment, training, and compensation of public school teachers, improve how Washington helps students pay for college, and overhaul the main federal law on public schools, No Child Left Behind.

Mr. Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan got a start on that agenda in February, persuading Congress to include $100 billion in education initiatives in the stimulus bill. There was $50 billion that states have used to prevent hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs. And Mr. Duncan got billions more to reward states, school districts and non-profits for pursuing the president’s agenda, much of which will likely go to teacher training and evaluation programs.

There was also $4 billion in new financing for early child care and education, and Congress appears likely to appropriate another $8 billion by year’s end to help states raise quality in early education programs.

In September, the House passed legislation expanding federal aid to college students while ending subsidies to private lenders. If the Senate follows suit, as expected, the administration will have kept its third promise.

It has postponed work on the No Child law until next year.

Trade - Backing off from pledges on Nafta and tax breaks

As a candidate, President Obama made two basic pledges about international trade. First, he said he would seek tougher trade and environmental restrictions in the North American Free Trade Agreement and would demand them in any new trade deals with other countries. Second, he said he would “stop providing tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas.”

Mr. Obama has not moved toward renegotiating Nafta with Canada and Mexico. At a meeting of leaders from the three countries last August in Guadalajara, he declared that “this is not the time,” given the economic downturn. But he did suggest how such discussions might evolve: as part of an expansion of the treaty to cover cap-and-trade restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Obama has not negotiated any other trade agreements and three deals signed by President George W. Bush – with Panama, Colombia and South Korea – have not been ratified by the Senate.

Mr. Obama has also retreated on his pledge to roll back tax breaks that allow companies to indefinitely defer taxes on profits earned in foreign countries. The idea was part of Mr. Obama’s budget proposal and White House officials estimated it would raise more than $200 billion over ten years. But it ran into adamant opposition from high-tech companies and has been put on hold.

Influence - Curbing lobbyists but not lobbying

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama vowed to expunge the influence of corporate lobbyists from the White House. And as president, Mr. Obama has indeed imposed stringent new ethics rules on his administration. He has blocked those who were recently registered as lobbyists from holding White House jobs, increased personal financial disclosure requirements to police conflicts of interest and imposed restrictions on meetings with current lobbyists as well. Washington lobbyists have howled in protest.

But in other ways, Mr. Obama has chosen to work with corporate lobbyists and not against them. At the start of the push for health care overhaul, his administration struck behind-the-scenes deals — still not fully disclosed — with lobbyists for drug makers and hospitals to secure their political support in exchange for limiting the cuts the legislation would exact on the bottom lines of their industries.

A coming test: Mr. Obama pledged during the campaign to try to revitalize the presidential public financing system, which levels the playing field and reduces the advantage of incumbency.

NY Times (Estados Unidos)


Otras Notas Relacionadas... ( Records 1 to 10 of 403 )
fecha titulo
30/11/2012 EEUU | Republicanos -El Partido del Hombre Blanco
19/11/2012 Elecciones EEUU _ Los hispanos en el horizonte electoral
14/11/2012 EEUU - En el otro lado
14/11/2012 The party of victory
13/11/2012 EE.UU. 2012 - Los anglosajones ya no dominan la política en EE.UU.
13/11/2012 EE.UU. 2012 - La (nueva) misión en Washington
13/11/2012 USA 2012 - Obama 2.0
13/11/2012 U.S. Foreign Policy: Room to Regroup
12/11/2012 Elecciones EEUU 2012 - Aprendiendo de una elección
11/11/2012 Obama y Latinoamérica

Otras Notas del Autor

ver + notas
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House