Barack Obama: President of the United States of America
Barack Obama won re-election in the 2012 Presidential election defeating Republican Mitt Romney by over 5 Million votes. His first administration was notable for passing a national healthcare law, winding down two wars in the Middle-East, finding and assassinating Osama Bin Laden and supporting equal opportunity for women and gays by passing the Lilly Ledbetter Act and repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policies.
Senator Obama from Illinois defeated Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton and others in the Democratic Primary and Republican John McCain in the national election on Nov. 4th, 2008. His campaign's great organizational skills and the candidates own uplifting oratory and appeal to voter's hopes, along with his steady and calm demeanor, ushered in a new era of politics that saw millions of new voters added to the country's electorate. Obama earned 53% of the popular vote to McCain's 46% and won an overwhelming Electoral College vote in the 2008 Presidential Election.
Barack Obama was born on August 4th, 1961, in Hawaii to Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham. When he was two years old, his parents divorced. His father eventually returned to Kenya, and he saw his son only once more before his death in 1982.
In his early childhood while growing up with his mother and step-father the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. When Obama was ten he returned to Hawaii under the care of his grandparents, and later his mother, for the better educational opportunities.
Upon finishing high school, Barack studied for two years at Occidental College before transferring to Columbia University. There he majored in political science, with a specialization in international relations.
Upon graduation, he worked for a year at newsletter publisher Business International and then moved to Chicago, where he took up community organizing on the city's South Side. It was during his time spent here that he became a Christian. He left Chicago for three years to study law at Harvard University where he was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude.
While working one summer at a corporate law firm in 1989, Obama met Michelle Robinson, then an associate attorney at the firm; and married her in 1992. They have two daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha.
Barack Obama has dedicated his life to public service as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, leader in the Illinois state Senate and as a newly elected United States Senator. At the 2004 National Democratic Convention he gave the Keynote Address and has since received wide acclaim and notoriety.
President Obama's inauguration brought close to 2 million people to the National Mall, a record for any such event in our nation's history. The first few weeks of his Presidency were characterized by swift action on some issues, such as beginning the process of closing Guantanamo Prison Base and reversing some environmental and labor policies of the lame-duck Bush administration, as well as a long-hard fight over the content and size of the economic stimulus package.
In an effort to improve the image of the United States abroad Obama took a number of steps that indicated a significant shift in tone. He signed an executive order that banned excessive interrogation techniques; ordered the closing of the controversial military detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, within a year (a deadline that was not met); proposed a “fresh start” to strained relations with Russia; and traveled to Cairo in June 2009 to deliver a historic speech in which he reached out to the Muslim world. Largely as a result of these efforts, Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
On March 23 Obama signed Health Care Reform legislation into law. No Republicans in either house voted for the bill. The legislation will prohibit denial of coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions and extend health care to some 30 million previously uninsured Americans. The bill made the attainment of health care insurance mandatory for all citizens, but it also called for a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans that would largely bankroll subsidies for premium payments for families earning less than $88,000 per year. Moreover, the bill promised a tax credit to small businesses that provide coverage for their employees. In some corners the bill was considered an unconstitutional “government takeover” of an industry representing one-sixth of the economy, and in others it was hailed as legislation as monumental as that which had come out of the civil rights movement.
For all of Obama's efforts at rapprochement with much of the world, he—like George W. Bush—is a wartime president. With the situation in Iraq continuing to improve and the target date for ending U.S. combat operations there approaching, in February 2009.
In June 2010, as the Afghanistan War rivaled the Vietnam War as the longest in U.S. history and as American war deaths there topped the 1,000 mark. In August, on schedule, the U.S. combat mission in Iraq came to a close; though 50,000 American troops remained, the majority of U.S. forces had been withdrawn. In a televised national address marking the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Obama stressed the importance of American and NATO efforts in Afghanistan even as corruption continued to undermine the faith of the Afghan people in their government.
Responding to the economic crisis that had emerged in 2008 and prompted a rescue of the financial industry with up to $700 billion in government funds Obama—aided by large Democratic majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives—pushed through Congress a $787 billion stimulus package. By the third quarter of 2009 the plan had succeeded in reversing the dramatic decline in GDP, resulting in 2.2 percent positive growth on a per annum basis. Unemployment, however, had also risen, from 7.2 percent when Obama entered office to about 10 percent. And Republicans complained that the stimulus package cost too much, having swelled the federal deficit to $1.42 trillion. Still, it appeared that the U.S. economy was recovering, albeit slowly. The president could proudly point to the dramatic turnaround of General Motors: in June 2009 GM had lapsed into bankruptcy, necessitating a $60 billion government rescue and takeover of about three-fifths of its stock, but by May 2010 the auto manufacturer, employing a new business plan, had shown its first profit in three years.
Obama was able to claim another major legislative victory, however, in July, when Congress passed (60–39 in the Senate and 237–192 in the House) the most sweeping financial regulation since the New Deal. Among other statutes, the bill established a financial consumer-protection bureau within the Federal Reserve, empowered the government to take over and shut down large troubled financial firms, created a council of federal regulators to monitor the financial system, and subjected derivatives—the complex financial instruments that were partly responsible for the financial crisis—to government oversight.
(From the U.S. Senate website of Barack Obama, http://obama.senate.gov/about/ and the Encyclopedia Britannica webpage at, http://www.britannica.com/blackhistory/article-939... )