As the year comes to a close, many people have begun to reflect on the events that occurred in 2009. What actions were taken by members of President Obama’s administration? What laws and regulations were passed?
This article will discuss 6 Top Achievements of the American Democratic Party in 2009.
- The American Democratic Party was able to keep the House of Representatives in 2009. In 2008, Democrats won 19 seats from Republicans, an increase of 8 over 2006. But with the help of independent voters, they kept control by only winning 5 seats from Republicans (Republicans lost 35 seats total). This was accomplished with less than 50% voter turnout which is one factor why some critics claim midterm elections are useless compared to presidential election years where there is usually a 70% or higher turnout.
- They also passed legislation that would provide health insurance for children and many other policies. The Democratic Party has attempted to pass such measures for decades with no success, but with President Obama’s leadership the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as the Stimulus Package) was able to be pushed through Congress in February 2009. This act provides 1/3 of $1 trillion dollars towards unemployment benefits, infrastructure development, and tax cuts encouraging investment in companies that keep jobs within the United States instead of foreign outsourcing. It also created an education fund which will allow citizens to receive scholarships make college more affordable. The bill also included $35 billion dollars towards expanding health care coverage for low income children and $18 billion dollars in direct aid to states for Medicaid.
- The American Democratic Party is a strong supporter of women’s rights, such as equal pay for equal work (fair pay), the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 which prohibits retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose their wages. Minorities continue to make less than whites even though they work the same amount of hours at similar types of jobs so this will allow them to sue companies that discriminate based on race or gender instead of just gender alone. Another policy that helps men and women equally but mostly affects women is an expansion on civil rights protections from sex discrimination by allowing victims more time to file charges before their cases are thrown out.
- President Obama has said he will fight to make America more energy independent by 2020. To help accomplish this goal, the Democratic Party instituted a policy that requires 25% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2025 and banned oil companies from receiving new government subsidies unless they are producing alternative fuels like ethanol or biodiesel. The party is also creating tax incentives for those businesses that rely on clean technology and investing heavily in green companies with technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars. They have even teamed up with many Top Oil Companies such as Shell in order to create a $4 billion dollar venture capital fund whose purpose is to promote job growth within the green industry because it is estimated there will be one jobs created for every $1 billion dollars invested in renewable technologies.
- In 2009, the United States economy grew at its fastest rate in three years. Most economists agree that this is because of the Stimulus Package which included tax cuts and an increase in government spending (deficit spending) to provide more jobs and improve America’s infrastructure such as energy, communication systems, transportation networks including roads and bridges, schools, airports, public parks and recreation centers, etc.). As expected by most critics of economic stimulus plans used throughout history (notably Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal), the Democratic Party was criticized for passing a plan that will supposedly increase our national debt even more so than it already is ($12 trillion dollars). The Obama Administration argued that since tax cuts to the Top 2% of wealthiest Americans will expire in 2012, most of the increased debt from the Stimulus Package will be paid off by then and there are many long term benefits to cutting taxes for small businesses that encourage them to hire more employees and invest in their companies which lead to a healthier economy. A healthy economy leads to increasing GDP (gross domestic product) so even though the government is spending a lot in short term costs, it is also investing money into projects that increase our nation’s wealth for years to come.
- The unemployment rate dropped from 10% to 8%. Even though this may not sound like much, it is because only 65% of working-age people were employed before compared with 70%; it is doubtful that the unemployment rate will fall any further because of how low it is already but even if it does, many economists agree there are still millions of Americans who are unemployed and are not counted in the official statistics. A Top Ten list made by CNN Money showed the Top 10 states with highest unemployment rates were: Michigan (11.7%) California (10.5%), Rhode Island (10%) Nevada (9.6%), Florida (9.3%), Connecticut (9.2%), Illinois (8.6%), Colorado (8.4%), Ohio [tie] 8.1%, New York [tie] 8%