Political positions of Barack Obama

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Barack Obama
Barack Obama campaigning in New Hampshire, August 2007

Barack Obama has declared his position on many political issues through his public comments and legislative record. The Obama Administration has stated that its general agenda is to "revive the economy; provide affordable, accessible health care to all; strengthen our public education and social security systems; define a clear path to energy independence and tackle climate change; end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan; and work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."[1]


Economic policy

Barack Obama's current economic advisors are Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago and Jeffrey Liebman of Harvard University.[2]

In 2006, Obama wrote: "We should be asking ourselves what mix of policies will lead to a dynamic free market and widespread economic security, entrepreneurial innovation and upward mobility [...] we should be guided by what works."[3]

Speaking before the National Press Club in April 2005, he defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, associating Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security with Social Darwinism.[4]

In response to the recession, Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 shortly after taking office. The law featured large amounts of infrastructure spending, funding for states, tax cuts, and other stimulative measures. After the 2010 midterm elections, he signed into law the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 which extended the Bush tax cuts for all incomes, temporarily cut the payroll tax, and reduced a number of other taxes.

Energy policy

President Obama's energy policy can be understood by looking at the different investments in clean energy that were evident in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

On March 31, 2010 at Andrews Air Force base, President Obama announced a “Comprehensive Plan for Energy Security”, stating that "moving towards clean energy is about our security. It’s also about our economy. And it’s about the future of our planet."[5] The President's plan includes raising fuel efficiency standards. He also announced a decision to double the number of hybrid vehicles in the federal government's fleet and a decision to expand domestic offshore oil and gas exploration in Alaska, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and off the east coast of the United States.[6]

Foreign policy

Obama addressing the Save Darfur rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 30, 2006.[7]

Obama's overall foreign policy philosophy has been postulated as "The Obama Doctrine" by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, which Dionne explains as "a form of realism unafraid to deploy American power but mindful that its use must be tempered by practical limits and a dose of self-awareness." [8] A New York Times op-ed article by David Brooks identified Obama as having enormous respect for and being deeply influenced by the philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr.[9]


His first major speech on foreign policy was delivered on April 23, 2007, to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He identified the problems that he believes the current foreign policy has caused, and the five ways the United States can lead again, focused on "common security", "common humanity", and remaining "a beacon of freedom and justice for the world":[10]

  • "Bringing a responsible end" to the war in Iraq and refocusing on the broader region.
  • "Building the first truly 21st century military and showing wisdom in how we deploy it."
  • "Marshalling a global effort" to secure, destroy, and stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
  • "Rebuild and construct the alliances and partnerships necessary to meet common challenges and confront common threats," including global warming.
  • "Invest in our common humanity" through foreign aid and supporting the "pillars of a sustainable democracy – a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force."

During the speech, Obama called for an expansion of the United States Armed Forces "by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines", an idea previously introduced by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

In a Washington, DC, speech entitled "A New Strategy for a New World"[11] delivered July 15, 2008, Obama stated five main foreign policy goals:

  • Ending the war in Iraq responsibly.
  • Finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.
  • Securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states.
  • Achieving true energy security.
  • Rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Social policy

The Almanac of American Politics (2008) rated Obama's overall social policies in 2006 as more conservative than 21 percent of the Senate, and more liberal than 77 percent of the Senate (18 percent and 77 percent, respectively, in 2005).[12]

In 2010, Obama signed into law the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 which ended a policy of not allowing gays to state their sexual orientation openly in the military.

See also


  1. ^ http://change.gov/agenda/
  2. ^ David Leonhardt. "ECONOMIX; Assessing The Advisers In the '08 Race" New York Times. April 18, 2007
  3. ^ Obama (2006), p. 159.
  4. ^ Franklin, Ben A. (June 1, 2005). "The Fifth Black Senator in U.S. History Makes F.D.R. His Icon". Washington Spectator. http://www.washingtonspectator.com/articles/20050601obama_1.cfm. Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  5. ^ www.whitehouse.gov "Remarks by The President on Energy Security at Andrews Air Force Base" March 31, 2010
  6. ^ CNN Obama energy plan would open Atlantic and Gulf drilling April 1, 2010
  7. ^ Hunt, Kasie (May 1, 2006). "Celebrities, Activists Rally Against Darfur Genocide". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-04-30-darfurrally_x.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-14.  For excerpts from Obama's speech, see: "More Must Be Done in Darfur". The Hill. April 30, 2006. http://blog.thehill.com/2006/04/30/more-must-be-done-in-darfur/. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  8. ^ E.J. Dionne Jr., "The Obama Doctrine", 16 April 2009, Available online. , Archived by WebCite.
  9. ^ "Obama, Gospel and Verse". David Brooks (The New York Times, April 27, 2007). April 26, 2007. http://select.nytimes.com/2007/04/26/opinion/26brooks.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=%2522David%20Brooks%2522%20Obama%20Niebuhr&st=cse. Retrieved March 19, 2010. 
  10. ^ barackobama.com "Remarks of Senator Barack Obama to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs" April 23, 2007
  11. ^ Obama, Barack (2008-07-15). "A New Strategy for a New World". Obama for America. http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/newstrategy. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  12. ^ Michael Barone with Richard Cohen. Almanac of American Politics (2008). National Journal. p. 538. 

External links

Official sites
Topic pages and databases
Disability issues
Foreign affairs
Health care
Israel and the Middle East conflict

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