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We Can, And We Did

by: Paradox13VA

Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 13:54:56 PM EDT

A moment of levity from the healthcare denouement over the past few weeks was the shout of "Yes, we did" from a Congress member during the President's signing ceremony. The President had commented about the amount of abuse many members of Congress had suffered during the debates, and "Yes, we did" was Congressman Ackerman's response.

But "Yes, we did" is also a fitting reminder for what has been accomplished since January, 2009. In the face of united and vitriolic opposition from the Republicans, as well as outright lies and slander, our Democratic Congress and President Obama have delivered on progress for the American people. It's cumbersome progress, and the change we want is not arriving as quickly as we might have wished, but turning the ship of state is not a rapid maneuver. Our President promised change we could believe in, not change that would happen quickly, or even change that would be revolutionary.

Paradox13VA :: We Can, And We Did
At this point, it is worthwhile to review the changes that have happened since January 2009, and reflect. These changes are, after all, what we as Democrats believe in.
  • Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act - Reestablishes a woman's right to seek justice for pay inequality at work. Fair pay for fair work has been a founding principle of our party for centuries.
  • American Reinvestment and Recovery Act - This law mitigated the worst of the great recession, delivered a tax cut to 95% of Americans, and began the reinvestment in our public infrastructure the nation needs to be competitive for the next century.
  • SCHIP - Before there was HRC or HIR there was SCHIP. We might forget, but making sure kids get access to healthcare was actually controversial thanks to the Republicans. Among the first things Democrats did upon gaining the majority and the Presidency was reasserting our belief that children shouldn't get sicker because their parents cannot afford healthcare.
  • Credit CARD Act of 2009 - Rebalancing the relationship between credit card companies and consumers, this bill prevents credit card issuers from arbitrarily raising interest rates and changing terms, and gives consumers full visibility into the long-term cost of credit card debt on their bills. No longer will credit card companies be able to use unannounced fees and term changes to gouge people.
  • Justice Sotomayor - After a decade of conservative judges being appointed to the high court, we added a Democratic Justice whose experiences so closely match the struggles and triumphs of millions of Americans. Regardless of race and gender, Justice Sotomayor's life and experiences give her a perspective on justice that has been sorely lacking on the Supreme Court.
  • Withdrawal from Iraq - Without too much fanfare, Iraq's recent elections continue the American road to withdrawal from a misguided war.
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - Health insurance reform. This Congress and this President cross the finish line on a race that was 100 years old. Every American will have the opportunity to get insurance. No one can be turned aside for pre-existing conditions. There will be no "lifetime cap" on benefits.
  • Health Reform Enhancements - Not only did Congress pass the reform, they improved it in the same week! The reconciliation package provided greater assistance for those who will have the most difficulty affording insurance, while reducing the deficit by over $100 billion over the next 10 years.
  • College Loan Reform - For years, our government has assumed all the risks of student lending, while allowing private banks to take all the profits. This year, Congress changed that to make more money available for grants, make student lending more efficient and cost-effective, and expand the availability of college loans for students across the country.
And those are just the big ones. There are other, lesser known accomplishments that are equally worthy of pride, for example:
  • Civil Rights History Project - In 2009, Congress and the President directed the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress to begin a project collecting the oral histories of the Civil Rights movement. Fifty years later, this is an idea that was long overdue.
  • Fraud Enforcement and Recovery - There was some question as to whether the massive frauds in the mortgage industry that led to the financial meltdown of 2008 were actually illegal. This act answered that question, and ensured that banks that perpetrated such acts would be criminally prosecuted.
  • Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform - After years of no-bid contracts and missing pallets of cash, has begun the work of reforming and accounting for how Defense acquisitions are managed.
  • Tobacco Regulation - Thanks to Congress and the President, the FDA can finally regulate one of the last unregulated drugs.
  • Human Rights Enforcement - Did you know that before this Administration, there was no dedicated division in the Department of Justice for enforcing international human rights laws? Now there is.
Change, when it is happening, can be hard to see. A glance back at some of the things accomplished in the past year is important, because none of these things would have happened without a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President. And there wouldn't be this Congress and this President without the time, money, energy and support of Democratic activists and volunteers, as well as millions and millions of voters across America, joining together in election and campaign, month after month, to make it happen.

Yes, we can. Yes, we did.

(Crossposted from Leesburg Tomorrow.)

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