The plusses and minuses of Obama

THE first 100 days of President Barack Obama’s administration has seen some major successes in the bid to push through its agenda but it has also encountered some teething problems along the way.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

Writing into law a $787 billion (€593bn) stimulus package to revive the US economy. The signing of the bill was seen as the first major policy achievement by the White House since his inauguration.

High-profile visits by the president to Europe and Latin America enhanced his reputation as a world statesmen. It also helped rebuild bridges burnt during the Bush administration.

The ban on harsh interrogation techniques — such as waterboarding — and the planned closure of Guantanamo Bay helped restore the US’s reputation amongst allies in Europe and the Muslim world.

The US’s relationship with Russia has improved under the Obama administration. Moscow had been angered by the Bush administration’s decision to push forward with a missile defence system in Eastern Europe. A thawing has occurred under Obama, with the countries agreeing to find a nuclear disarmament treaty by the end of the year.

Green shoots in the economy are beginning to emerge. The credit markets have thawed, albeit to a limited extent. Stock markets have also gained in recent weeks.

The president won plaudits — in America at least — for ordering military intervention to bring about the end of the seizure of a US captain by Somali pirates. Backers of the president said it was evidence of decisive action.

DISAPPOINTMENTS:

Early talks of bi-partisanship as the US tackled the recession fell apart. Republicans in the House of Representatives rejected the president’s stimulus bill as a block. In the senate only a handful of opposition members backed the bill. It leaves the White House open to attack from the Republicans if the economic revival fails to materialise.

The Obama administration has failed to shake off criticism that its proposals will overly burden American taxpayers in years to come. A report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that the national debt would double in the next decade as a result of the budget.

Overtures to Iran have as yet failed to yield any thawing of relations.

Problems over forming a cabinet — with two key nominees forced to resign over personal tax failings — have left Obama open to questions over his judgment and of his administration’s vetting procedures.

Despite measures to stimulate the economy, there has been little real evidence of a revival. The IMF downgraded the outlook for the US economy in the three months of the Obama administration. It now predicts a decline in output of 2.8% in 2009 and zero growth in 2010.


Lifestyle

You have a long half-term break ahead of you all, and there’s only so much screen time anyone in the family can handle. Everyone is going to need a book-break at some point or another.We reviewed some of the best new books to keep kids entertained over half-term

Sexual politics, snideput-downs and family rivalries are fuelling the trouble brewing in a small Midlands town.Charlie Murphy and Pat Shortt star in new Irish film 'Dark lies the Island'

Robert Hume tells of the eccentric MP for Athboy, Co. Meath – born 300 years ago this month – who thought he was a teapot, and was afraid his spout might break off.A strange brew of a man: The MP for Meath who believed he was a teapot

Ladysbridge and District Flower and Garden Club will meet on Monday at 8pm in Garryvoe Hotel.Gardening Notes: Your one-stop guide to the week's events

More From The Irish Examiner