Obama Fact Check rebuts NYT’s skewed article about Obama’s record

Crossposted from Daily Kos

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Obama campaign responds to this hit piece in NYT: Obama in Senate: Star Power, Minor Role, by Kate Zernike and Jeff Zeleny.

The fact check rebuttal can be found here:


Fact Check on New York Times Story that Minimizes Obama’s Senate Accomplishments

March 08, 2008

Full fact check post follows:

Fact Check on New York Times Story that Minimizes Obama’s Senate Accomplishments

March 08, 2008

RHETORIC:  “(Obama) was cautious – even on the Iraq war, which he had opposed as a Senate candidate, he voted against the withdrawal of troops. He proposed a drawdown only after he was running for president and polls showed voters favoring it.”  (New York Times, 3/9/07)

REALITY: Obama Began Calling For A Phased Withdrawal From Iraq In November 2005

11/22/05: Obama Called for A Phased Withdrawal From Iraq, A Commitment To Having No U.S. Bases In Iraq Within a Decade. “First and foremost, after the December 15 elections and during the course of next year, we need to focus our attention on how reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq. Notice that I say ‘reduce,’ and not ‘fully withdraw.’ This course of action will help to focus our efforts on a more effective counter-insurgency strategy and take steam out of the insurgency…Second, we need not a time-table, in the sense of a precise date for U.S. troop pull-outs, but a time-frame for such a phased withdrawal. More specifically, we need to be very clear about key issues, such as bases and the level of troops in Iraq. We need to say that there will be no bases in Iraq a decade from now and the United States armed forces cannot stand-up and support an Iraqi government in perpetuity – pushing the Iraqis to take ownership over the situation and placing pressure on various factions to reach the broad based political settlement that is so essential to defeating the insurgency.” (Obama Speech, 11/22/05)

12/8/05: Obama Said He Supported A Phased Withdrawal To Avoid Security Vacuum; Said War In Iraq To Blame For Terrorist Problems. Obama favors starting ‘a phased withdrawal process’ of troops next year. The process would be based on what happens with the elections, he said. ‘What we’re engaged in is a difficult balancing act here…Having gone in, how do we step back but ensure that there’s not such a vacuum that either chaos occurs or jihadists take over critical areas that can make huge problems elsewhere? The irony, of course, is that there really wasn’t a terrorist problem before we went in. There is now.'” (State Journal-Register, 12/8/05)

1/8/06: Obama Said It Was Important To Start Phasing Down Troops. The Sun-Times wrote, “Obama said ‘if we don’t see significant political progress’ over the next six months or so, ‘we can pour money and troops in here until the cows come home but we are not going to be successful.’ It is important, Obama said, ‘to start phasing down the troops’ and ‘to give the Iraqis more ownership.'” (Chicago Sun-Times, 1/8/06)

4/13/06: Obama Said U.S. Should Start Phasing Down U.S. Troop Presence In Iraq By The End Of The Year. At a town hall meeting, Obama said, “‘If I continue to see what seems to be the case right now–an inability and unwillingness on the part of the various factions to want to live together–we can’t be in a position where we’re in the middle of a civil war…If we’re not seeing a government that is actually committed to working together, then I don’t see how our presence there can be helpful,’ Obama said. Even if a new government is formed, Obama said, by the end of the year ‘our job as the police and army of Iraq should be complete. We will have done our task and we should start phasing down our troops.'” (Chicago Tribune, 4/13/06)

REALITY: Times Downplayed Significance Of Obama’s Ethics Reform Legislation, Which Was Hailed As The “Most Sweeping” Overhaul Since Watergate


Obama Was A Key Player In Assembling And Passing The 2007 Ethics Reform Law, Which Curbed The Influence Of Lobbyists And Was Described As The “Most Sweeping Since Watergate.” In the first week of the 110th Congress, Obama joined with Senator Feingold to introduce a “Gold Standard” ethics package. Many of the Obama/Feingold bill’s most important provisions were included in the final ethics reform package passed by the Senate in late January: a full ban on gifts and meals from lobbyists including those paid by the firms that employ lobbyists; an end to subsidized travel on corporate jets; full disclosure of who’s sponsoring earmarks and for what purpose; additional restrictions to close the revolving door between public service and lobbying to ensure that public service isn’t all about lining up a high-paying lobbying job; and requiring lobbyists to disclose the contributions that they “bundle” – that is, collect or arrange – for members of Congress, candidates, and party committees. The Washington Post wrote in an editorial that “…Mr. Reid, along with Sens. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), deserves credit for assembling and passing this package.” In September 2007, the AP reported, “President Bush signed a bill Friday that will require lawmakers to disclose more about their efforts to fund pet projects and raise money from lobbyists, a measure that backers call the biggest ethics reform in decades…Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. who had pushed for the bundling provisions and was one of four lawmakers who participated in a Democratic conference call to reporters said the measure marks “the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.” (S. 230, 110th Congress; S.1, Became Public Law 109-110-81, 9/14/07; AP, 9/15/07; Washington Post, Editorial, 1/21/07)

NYT: 2007 Ethics Reform Bill “Quickly Sent A Ripple Of Fear Through K Street” And Was “Already Changing The Culture Of Washington” Before It Was Signed Into Law, Beginning With “More Dutch Treats And Fewer Steak Dinners.” “The new law has quickly sent a ripple of fear through K Street…Stanley Brand, a longtime Washington defense lawyer who usually represents Democrats, said the law was a sea change. ”It should send shivers down lobbyists’ spines,” Mr. Brand said. ‘It is a minefield now…President Bush has not said whether he would sign the bill, but it is already changing the culture of Capitol Hill in myriad ways, beginning with more Dutch treats and fewer steak dinners…One lobbyist, who would speak only anonymously to avoid attracting the attention of prosecutors or rivals, said he had started sending himself date-stamped e-mail to create a record of every phone conversation he had with a lawmaker. Then he stopped making campaign contributions…For lobbyists — who live at the nexus of contributions and favors — it is an alarming trend. ”They might as well just pull up the paddy wagon outside the Capital Grille,” one lobbyist said, referring to a clubby steakhouse near the Capitol that is a well-known K Street hangout. (New York Times, 8/7/07)

Good Government Groups: Ethics Reform “Shouldn’t Be Belittled.” The good-government groups that criticized Mrs. Clinton took issue with her comments about the ethics reform bill. While she voted for it, she has suggested that the legislation was not a landmark change and that Mr. Obama was hardly alone in championing it. Fred Wertheimer, president and chief executive of Democracy 21, which promotes campaign finance reform, said the bill contained some of ”the most important and comprehensive ethics and lobbying reforms since the Watergate era.” Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center, said: ”I think it should be seen as the decent, credible and substantial legislation that it was. It shouldn’t be belittled.” (New York Times, 1/15/08)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Obama Stepped Forward, Did a Wonderful Job. Senator Reid said, “And finally, Senator Obama. I chose personally Senator Obama last year to work on ethics and lobbying reform, and he’s done a wonderful job. He’s stepped forward. He’s been a leader with Senator Feingold…And I admire and respect his stalwartness in moving forward on this.” (Press Conference Transcript, Federal News Service, 1/18/07)

Washington Post Said Obama Deserved Credit For “Strongest Ethics Legislation…Yet.” The Washington Post wrote in an editorial, “The final package is the strongest ethics legislation to emerge from Congress yet…Mr. Reid, along with Sens. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), deserves credit for assembling and passing this package.” (Washington Post, Editorial, 1/20/07)

Chicago Tribune: Obama and Feingold Pressured the Senate Into Adopting Tougher Ethics Reforms. “After Democratic and Republican leaders introduced their bipartisan working version of an ethics plan, pressure from Obama and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) inspired them to open the measure up for some tougher restrictions.” (Chicago Tribune, 1/19/07)

Madison Capital Times: Obama’s Work On Ethics Legislation Strengthens Case For Presidency Candidacy. In an editorial, the Madison Capital Times wrote of Obama and Feingold, “The two senators are sponsoring groundbreaking ethics legislation that they say will improve upon Senate Bill 2349, the lobbying disclosure and ethics measure that the Senate passed in March 2006. ‘Our goal,’ say Feingold and Obama, ‘is to restore the public’s faith that Congress places its interest ahead of special interests.’ The bottom line is that this is a real reform. No one will be surprised that Feingold’s name is associated with this effort. But the fact that Obama is so willing to be a part of it will only strengthen the case for consideration of his potential presidential candidacy.” (Madison Capital Times, 1/12/07)

Dayton Daily News: Obama Ethics Amendments Got Reform Bill Improved Instead of Watered Down. The Dayton Daily News wrote in an editorial, “Indeed, the bill goes further than Democrats even promised during the campaign. This was one of those rare occasions when a reform bill is introduced, then, rather than get watered down, gets watered up. This fact has been widely attributed to the work of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis. They proposed reforms that the other senators – while reportedly not happy about – decided they couldn’t oppose in the current political environment.” (Dayton Daily News, Editorial, 1/24/07)

RHETORIC: “He worked with Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma and one of the most conservative in the chamber, to establish a public database to examine government spending after Hurricane Katrina.”

REALITY: New York Times Downplayed Significance Of Obama’s “Google For Government” Bill, Which Was A Landmark Effort In Bringing Transparency To Federal Spending And Was Passed Against Strong Opposition

Providence Journal: Coburn And Obama “Deserve Credit For Fighting Doggedly For This Legislation.” “What a great idea: Create a searchable online data base of federal grants and contracts, identifying the members of Congress behind the spending, so that citizens, even on their home computers, can easily determine where, how and why the government is spending their money. A bill to do just that, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., with the bipartisan support of such heavy hitters as Republican Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and John McCain, R-Ariz., has passed the Senate and may soon become law…For a time it looked dicey. In an impressive display of the arrogance of power, two of Congress’s most egregious kings of pork – Sens. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska., and Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. – secretly put a hold on the legislation. After citizens groups smoked out this betrayal of the public, Byrd and Stevens backed off…That may be why liberal Democrats have joined with conservatives on the bill. It presents an opportunity to break the deathgrip of incumbency.  Coburn and the co-sponsor, Sen. Barak Obama, D-Ill., deserve credit for fighting doggedly for this legislation.”  (Providence Journal Editorial, 9/20/06)

The Google For Government Bill Was A “Fine Accomplishment” And “Passed Largely Because Of The Bipartisan Leadership Of Tom Coburn, R-Okla And Barack Obama, D-Ill” “The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act is a fine accomplishment. It will create an earmark database that the public can easily access on the Internet. The bill passed largely because of the bipartisan leadership of senators Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.”  (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 10/15/06)

RHETORIC: “While some senators spent hours in closed-door meetings over immigration reform in early 2007, he dropped in only occasionally, prompting complaints that he was something of a dilettante.   He joined a bipartisan group, which included Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and Mr. Kennedy, that agreed to stick to a final compromise bill even though it was sure to face challenges from interest groups on both sides.  Yet when the measure reached the floor, Mr. Obama distanced himself from the compromise, advocating changes sought by labor groups. The bill collapsed. To some in the bipartisan coalition, Mr. Obama’s move showed an unwillingness to take a tough stand.”

REALITY: New York Times Falsely Implied That Obama Has Not Been Committed To Immigration Reform, And Neglected To Mention The Key Role He Played In Major Debates

Gannett: “Low-Ranking Obama Front-And-Center On Immigration.” In an article entitled, “Low Ranking Obama Front-And-Center On Immigration, Gannett News Service reported, “When the president sat down with eight senators to strategize about immigration last week, the group represented the Senate’s elite on the issue. Among them were the top Democratic and Republican leaders, those from border states, two Hispanics and those with a history of involvement with immigration legislation.  And then, there was Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois’ junior senator, who ranks 98 out of 100 in seniority in the Senate. He is not on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee where immigration legislation originated and the state he represents is closer to the Canadian border than the deserts of Mexico…Alejandro Lugo, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois who studies border issues, says Obama’s recognition of a border control problem coupled with a practical solution will play well if people are paying attention.” (Gannett News Service, 5/1/06)

Kennedy And McCain, Authors Of Immigration Reform Bill, Thanked Obama As One Of Small Bipartisan Group Of Senators Who “Stood Together To Make This Legislation Possible.” McCain said, “After several weeks of extensive debate and consideration of numerous and complicated amendments, the Senate is about to move to final passage on S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act…I also commend the Senate Leadership on both sides of the aisle for their efforts to ensure that the Senate addressed this important issue and gave us more than adequate time for a thorough debate. This is a proud moment for the United States Senate, as we have conducted good work and returned to orderly traditions of the legislative process as envisioned by our founding fathers…And of course, I commend Senator Kennedy, who is perhaps the leading expert on this difficult issue…I also want to thank Senators Brownback, Lieberman, Graham, Salazar, Martinez, Obama, and Dewine for their shared commitment to this issue, and working to ensure this bill moved successfully intact through the legislative process.”  In a speech on the Senate floor, Kennedy said, “I thank those of our bipartisan group who stood together to make this legislation possible–Senator Graham, Senator Salazar, Senator Martinez, Senator Hagel, Senator Durbin, Senator Lieberman, Senator Brownback, Senator Obama, and Senator DeWine.” (McCain Press Release, 5/25/06; Congressional Record, 5/26/06)

Illinois Coalition For Immigrants And Refugee Rights Praised Obama For Leadership In Moving Congress Towards New Immigration Laws.  “Fred Tsao, policy director for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, praised U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for their leadership in moving toward new immigration laws on Capitol Hill.  But ‘we must demand similar leadership from the president and the speaker of the House,’ he said. ‘We need real comprehensive immigration reform that will allow the undocumented to gain legal status, bring families together, respect hard work and help students realize their dreams.'”  (Chicago Sun-Times, 4/24/06)

Obama Passed Amendments To The Senate’s 2006 Immigration Bill That Would Have Established An Employment Verification System And Protected American Workers From Losing Jobs To Guest Workers.  In 2006, Obama passed an amendment to the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill that ensured that prevailing wage requirements apply to all workers covered by the bill’s wage protection provisions.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Obama said, “This amendment essentially says that the prevailing wage provisions in the underlying bill should be tightened to ensure that they apply to all workers and not just some workers. The way the underlying bill is currently structured, essentially those workers who fall outside of Davis-Bacon projects or collective bargaining agreements or other provisions are not going to be covered…Everybody in this Chamber has agreed that if we are going to have a guest worker program, it should only be made available where there is a genuine need that has been shown by the employers that American workers are not available for those jobs. Without this amendment, that will not be the case…”  Obama was also an original cosponsor of an amendment that would strike the underlying bill’s employment verification system and replace it with an electronic verification system that would allow employers to verify the legal status of workers within three days. If a worker’s status could not be verified, it would obligate the employer to discharge the worker. It would allow legitimate workers wrongly discharged because of a verification system error to be compensated by the government for lost wages. It would fine employers up to $20,000 for each unauthorized worker hired but the system would not take effect until 18 months after Congress appropriated the $400 million needed to put the program in place. The underlying bill did not pass. (S. Amdt. 4177, Vote 140, Adopted 59-39 (R 17-37; D 41-2; I 1-0); 5/23/06; CQ, 5/23/06; SA 3971 as modified agreed to in Senate by Voice Vote, 5/17/06; Obama Press Release, 5/17/06)

RHETORIC: “And while he rightly takes credit for steering through an ethics overhaul that reformers called a ‘gold standard,’ like most freshmen he did not play a significant role in passing much other legislation and disappointed some Democrats for not becoming a more prominent voice in other important debates.” (New York Times, 3/9/08)

REALITY: Obama Has Passed Several Important Laws In The Senate, Including Legislation To Prevent Terrorists From Obtaining WMDs, Increasing U.S. Investment In Alternative Energy, And Improving Services For Our Troops And Veterans

ETHICS/TRANSPARENCY

Obama Was A Key Player In Assembling And Passing The 2007 Ethics Reform Law, Which Curbed The Influence Of Lobbyists And Was Described As The “Most Sweeping Since Watergate.” In the first week of the 110th Congress, Obama joined with Senator Feingold to introduce a “Gold Standard” ethics package.  Many of the Obama/Feingold bill’s most important provisions were included in the final ethics reform package passed by the Senate in late January: a full ban on gifts and meals from lobbyists including those paid by the firms that employ lobbyists; an end to subsidized travel on corporate jets; full disclosure of who’s sponsoring earmarks and for what purpose; additional restrictions to close the revolving door between public service and lobbying to ensure that public service isn’t all about lining up a high-paying lobbying job; and requiring lobbyists to disclose the contributions that they “bundle” – that is, collect or arrange – for members of Congress, candidates, and party committees.  The Washington Post wrote in an editorial that “…Mr. Reid, along with Sens. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), deserves credit for assembling and passing this package.”  In September 2007, the AP reported, “President Bush signed a bill Friday that will require lawmakers to disclose more about their efforts to fund pet projects and raise money from lobbyists, a measure that backers call the biggest ethics reform in decades…Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. who had pushed for the bundling provisions and was one of four lawmakers who participated in a Democratic conference call to reporters said the measure marks “the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.”  (S. 230, 110th Congress; S.1, Became Public Law 109-110-81, 9/14/07; AP, 9/15/07; Washington Post, Editorial, 1/21/07)

Obama Passed A Bill Creating A “Google-like” Database For The Public To Search Details About Federal Funding Awards. In 2006, Obama was an original cosponsor of a bill to create a “Google-like” database of information on federal spending.  The bill requires the OMB by January 1, 2008, to make available to the public a searchable, free website that includes the (1) amount; (2) transaction type; (3) funding agency; (4)  North American Industry Classification System code or Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number; (5) program source; (6) an award title descriptive of the purpose of each funding action; (7) the name and location of the recipient and the primary location of performance; and (8) a unique identifier of the recipient and any parent entity. The site must allow users to conduct separate searches that distinguish between awards that are grants, sub-grants, loans, cooperative agreements, and other forms of financial assistance and awards that are contracts, subcontracts, purchase orders, task orders, and delivery orders.  (S. 2590, Passed by Unanimous Consent, 9/7/06; Became PL 109-282, 9/26/06)  SEE THE DATABASE HERE

Obama Passed Into Law Legislation Requiring Lobbyists To Disclose Their Bundling Activity, Making Him Unpopular Even Among Other Democrats.  Obama sponsored an amendment to require lobbyists to disclose the candidates, leadership PACs, or political parties for whom they collect or arrange contributions, and the aggregate amount of the contributions collected or arranged. The amendment was passed by unanimous consent and attached to the Senate ethics bill, which was signed into law on September 15, 2007. The New York Times wrote, “The disclosure idea’s lead sponsor, Senator Barack Obama… ‘has not been the most popular person in our caucus in the last couple of weeks,’ said a Democratic aide involved in deliberations over the bill.” (S. Amdt. 41 to S. 1, S. Amdt. 3, Submitted 1/11/07, Agreed to By Unanimous Consent, 1/18/07; S. 1, Signed into Law 9/14/07; New York Times, 1/20/07; CQ, 9/15/07)

FOREIGN POLICY

Obama Passed Law Requiring Comprehensive Nuclear Threat Reduction Strategy To Secure Weapons And Usable Nuclear Material. “Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced that a provision authored by Obama and Senator Hagel (R-NE) in the Senate and advanced by Schiff in the House requiring a comprehensive nuclear threat reduction plan passed as part of the omnibus appropriations bill. This provision requires the President to submit to Congress a comprehensive plan for ensuring that all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material at vulnerable sites around the world are secure by 2012 from the threats that terrorists have shown they can pose. The Senate passed the omnibus appropriations bill last night and the House approved the same bill today. It will now be sent to the President to be signed into law…The Comprehensive Nuclear Threat Reduction provision requires the President to develop a strategy that will: ensure that all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material at vulnerable sites around the world are secure by 2012 against the threats that terrorists have shown they can pose; ensure adequate accounting and security for such materials on an ongoing basis thereafter; include a plan for expanding the financial support and other assistance provided by other countries, particularly Russia, the European Union and its member states, China and Japan, for the purposes of securing nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material worldwide; and outline the progress in and impediments to securing an agreement from all countries that possess nuclear weapons or weapons-usable material on a set of global nuclear security standards, consistent with their obligation to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540.” (Obama Press Release, 12/20/07)

Obama Passed Legislation To Keep Weapons Of Mass Destruction Out Of The Hands Of Terrorists. In 2006, Obama was an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand U.S. cooperation to destroy conventional weapons. It also expands the State Department’s ability to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction. The legislation was included in an appropriations bill that was later signed into law by the president. (Congress, S. 2566, Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 456, 5/25/06; Provisions included in H.R. 6060/P.L. 109-706)

Obama Passed Law to Promote Relief, Security, and Democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2005, Obama sponsored the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006.  The bill would set forth specified U.S. political, social, civil, and economic policy objectives (policy objectives) with respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and obligated a specified minimum amount of foreign assistance funding for FY2006-FY2007.  (S.2125, 12/16/05, Become Public Law No: 109-456, 12/22/06)

HEALTH CARE

Obama Passed An Amendment Into Law That Pressured The EPA to Comply With New Lead-Paint Regulations After Seven Years of Delay. In 2005, Obama passed an amendment, which became law, to the FY 2006 Department of Interior Appropriations Act prohibiting the use of funds in the bill to delay or contravene implementation of an existing but unmet statutory requirement passed by Congress in 1992 that the EPA rewrite regulations on dispersal of lead paint by home remodeling contractors by October 1996. As of July 2005, the regulations still had not been written. Weeks after Obama’s amendment passed the Senate, Obama received commitments in writing and during a Senate hearing that the EPA would comply with the law. According to an Obama press release, “In 1992, Congress required the EPA to write regulations relating to the dispersal of lead paint by contractors during home remodeling by October, 1996. As of July 2005, these regulations still have not been written. In April, Administrator Johnson stated that to address the problem of lead paint poisoning, the EPA ‘will determine what additional steps may be necessary, including regulation’ despite the fact that the 1992 law does not say the regulations are optional.” (SA 1061 agreed to in Senate by Unanimous Consent, 6/28/05, Obama Press Release, 7/25/05; H.R. 2361, Became Public Law No: 109-54, 8/2/05)

EPA Finally Published Nine-Years-Overdue Proposal For Lead Paint Regulations Four Months After Obama Passed Legislation And Held Up EPA Nominations. Building Products wrote, “The EPA recently published long-overdue proposed regulations that affect contractors working on older houses that contain lead-based paints. The regulations, if adopted, would require that contractors be trained in lead-safe work practices and be certified by the EPA. The rules also would impose protective standards for those working on houses with lead paint. In 1992, Congress directed the EPA to write regulations that would limit lead paint pollution during home remodeling by October 1996. By last summer, with no sign of the new regulations, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-III., introduced more legislation designed to encourage the EPA to publish the rules. When that didn’t work, Obama announced in the fall that he would block the appointment of every nominee to top EPA jobs until the agency produced the new rules. The EPA finally announced the proposed regulations Dec. 29, 2005.” (Building Products, March-April, 2006)

Obama Passed A Law Requiring The Defense Secretary To Report On The Pentagon’s Efforts To Prepare For Military And Civilian Personnel For A Possible Influenza Outbreak. In 2006, Obama sponsored an amendment to the FY 2006 Defense Authorization Act that required the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on the Pentagon’s efforts to prepare for pandemic influenza, including pandemic avian influenza, including status on the procurement of vaccines, public health containment measures that could be implemented on military bases and other facilities; surge capacity for the provision of medical care during pandemics; surveillance efforts domestically and internationally and how such efforts are integrated with other ongoing surveillance systems; the integration of pandemic and response planning with those of other Federal departments; collaboration (as appropriate) with international entities engaged in pandemic preparedness and response.  (SA 1453 as modified agreed to in Senate by Unanimous Consent, 11/18/05; S. 1042/H.R. 1815, Became Public Law No: 109-163)

Obama Passed Legislation Providing $25 Million In Funding For Avian Flu Research And Containment Efforts By U.S. Agencies In South East Asia. “The amendment calls for greater investment in our preparedness efforts by providing more than $3 billion to build a stockpile of antiviral drugs and necessary medical supplies…Obama first introduced legislation in April requiring the United States to stockpile antiviral drugs…In May, Obama worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to appropriate the $25 million called for in the Foreign Assistance Act authorization bill. This money is currently being used by U.S. agencies in South East Asia to combat and contain possible outbreaks of avian flu.” (Obama Press Release, 1/12/07)

ENERGY

Obama Passed Legislation Creating A Tax Credit For The Installation Of E-85 Fuel Pumps. In 2005, Obama introduced legislation that provided a tax credit for up to 50% of the cost of installing an E-85 pump. Obama passed the tax credit as an amendment to the 2005 transportation bill.  The amendment was not included in the final version of the bill but was signed into law as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The AP reported, “Under the provision, gas stations would get a tax credit to install equipment accommodating E-85 – an ethanol-based fuel alternative that its promoters say is up to 50 cents cheaper per gallon than unleaded gasoline.  The credit would cover 30 percent of the installation costs at a given station up to $30,000…Freshman Sen. Barack Obama introduced the tax-credit measure in the Senate in the spring, and it was co-sponsored by Illinois’ other Democratic senator, Dick Durbin. Obama also worked for the credit’s inclusion in the energy bill as one of the conferees preparing the Senate-House conference committee report…” (AP, 7/27/05; H.R. 6, Became Public Law No: 109-58; S. 918, 109th Congress; SA 670 agreed to, 5/12/05; H.R. 6, Became Public Law No: 109-58; S. 918, Referred to the Committee On Environment and Public Works)

Obama Passed An Amendment Into Law To Fund Research For Hybrid/Flex Fuel Vehicles. In 2005, Obama sponsored an amendment, which was signed into law, to the Energy Policy Act that established an applied research program to improve technologies for the commercialization of a combination hybrid/flexible fuel vehicle; or a plug-in hybrid/flexible fuel vehicle.  The program would provide grants with preference to proposals that achieve the greatest reduction in miles per gallon of petroleum fuel consumption, achieve not less than 250 miles per gallon of petroleum fuel consumption and have the greatest potential of commercialization to the general public within 5 years. (SA 851 to HR 6, Passed by Unanimous Consent, 6/23/05; H.R. 6, Became Public Law No: 109-58)

EDUCATION

Obama Passed Legislation Into Law Making Black Colleges Eligible For $15 Million In Federal Funding.  In 2007, Obama introduced legislation that would make a predominantly black institution eligible for federal grant money.  The legislation was written into the “The bill would define a PBI as a college of at least 1,000 undergraduates in which Blacks represent 40 percent or more of the student body. At least half of all undergraduates also must be low-income or first-generation students.  The legislation would provide a minimum grant of $250,000. Jackson, another NAFEO board member, says Medgar Evers could find immediate uses for the funding.”  (S. 1513, Referred to HELP Committee, 5/24/07; H.R. 2669, Became Public Law, 9/7/07; Diverse Issues In Higher Education, 6/29/07)

Obama Passed Into Law An Amendment Establishing A Grant Program To Support Summer Curricula That Emphasize Math And Problem Solving. In 2007, Obama sponsored an amendment, which became law, to the America Competes Act that established a competitive state grant program to support summer learning opportunities with curricula that emphasize mathematics and problem solving. (S.Amdts. 924, Agreed to by unanimous consent, 4/25/07; S. 761, Incorporated into H.R. 2272, which became P.L. 110-289, 8/9/07)

MILITARY ISSUES/VETERANS

Obama Passed An Amendment, Which Became Law, Preventing The VA From Conducting A Review Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Cases Aimed At Reducing Benefits. In 2005, Obama was an original cosponsor of an amendment that became law preventing the VA from conducting a review of cases, without first providing Congress with a complete report regarding the implementation of such review. In November 2005, the VA announced that it was abandoning its planned review. “Obama had several generations of veterans in mind, he suggested, when he joined fellow Democrats Richard Durbin (Ill.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Daniel Akaka (Hawai’i) Sept. 22 on a successful amendment to block the Department of Veterans Affairs from reviewing case files of 72,000 veterans rated 100-percent disabled by post-traumatic stress disorder…VA officials believe some PTSD claims have been decided for veterans without proper documentation. They announced their massive review only after the VA inspector general studied 2,100 randomly selected cases of PTSD disability awards and found that 25 percent lacked documents to verify that a traumatic, service-connected incident occurred…But the Senate’s amendment would bar the VA from conducting its case review until it justifies the program to Congress.” (SA 1864 agreed to in Senate by Voice Vote, 9/22/05; Became Public Law No: 109-114; Military Update, 10/3/05)

Obama Passed Legislation, Which Became Law, Improving And Increasing Services For Homeless Veterans. In 2006, Congress passed a Veterans Affairs Committee bill which included several provisions originating in Obama’s SAVE Act (S. 1180) and Homes for Heroes Act (S. 3475).  “The legislation…includes a number of proposals from legislation Senator Obama had previously introduced (S.1180, the SAVE Act and S.3475 the Homes for Heroes Act) to expand and improve services for homeless veterans. The bill permanently authorizes and increases funding to $130 million per year for a competitive grant program to provide homeless services to veterans. It greatly increases a successful program to provide rental vouchers to homeless veterans. The legislation extends programs to providing treatment for veterans with mental illnesses and other special needs. And it permanently extends VA’s ability to transfer property it owns to homeless shelters.”  (S. 3421/P.L. 109-461; S. 1180, 109th Congress; S. 3475, 109th Congress; Obama Press Release, 6/26/06)

Obama Passed Legislation Extending Tax Credits For Military Families By Allowing Service Members Deployed In War Zones To Apply Non-Taxable Combat Pay To The EITC. In 2006, Congress passed legislation based on a proposal sponsored by Obama, Kerry, and Pryor that extended tax credits for military families by allowing service members deployed to war zones to apply their non-taxable combat pay toward the Earned Income Tax Credit. The amendment was introduced during debate on the Senate’s 2006 tax reconciliation bill, ruled out of order, but later included in the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act, which passed both chambers and became law on December 22, 2005. (H.R. 4440, Became P.L. 109-135, 12/22/05; SA 2616, 109th Congress)

Obama Passed An Amendment, Which Became Law, To Require The VA To Conduct A Campaign To Inform Disabled Vets Of Disparities In Compensation And Explaining Their Rights To Seek Review. In 2005, Obama was an original cosponsor on an amendment requiring the VA to conduct a campaign to inform veterans in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Connecticut, Ohio and New Jersey about their right to seek a review of their past claims. Specifically, the legislation required the VA to send letters to all veterans currently receiving disability who live in six states with a past history of below-average disability compensation, informing them of the past disparity, and explaining how to request a review of past claims and ratings and how to submit new claims. The VA was also required to inform all other veterans whose past claims may have been properly denied of this disparity by other means such as broadcast of print advertising. States whose average annual disability compensation payment was less than $7,300 qualified as below average. In 2003, Illinois veterans received an average of $6,802. The amendment became law on November 30, 2005.   (S. Amdt. 1865, Passed by Voice Vote, 9/22/05, to H.R.2528, Signed by the President and Became Public Law No: 109-114 on 11/30/05)

HOMELAND SECURITY/DISASTER RESPONSE

Obama Passed A Law Initiating A Long Overdue Investigation Into FEMA Failures And Response To Trailers Contaminated By Formaldehyde.  “U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Barack Obama (D-IL) lauded Congress’ passage of their proposal to launch an investigation into reports that housing trailers contaminated with formaldehyde were provided to Hurricane Katrina victims. This provision, which is contained in the Omnibus Appropriations package soon to be signed into law, will initiate a long overdue investigation into why the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) failed to prevent the contamination or investigate the allegations.”  (Obama Press Release, 12/21/07; H.R. 2764, Became Public Law No: 110-161)

Obama Passed Legislation Prohibiting DHS From Entering Into Open-Ended, No-Bid Contracts For Emergency Response Activities. “Legislation authored by U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) that will stop the abuse of no-bid contracting in the aftermath of a disaster was included in the final Department of Homeland Security funding bill likely to pass the Senate today. After Senate passage, the bill will go to the President’s desk to be signed into law…After Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency used emergency authority to enter into open-ended, no-bid contracts. What was meant to be temporary stop-gap authority ballooned into wasteful contracts that lasted many months and wasted significant federal resources. Obama and Coburn legislation will stop this practice by restricting the use of emergency contracting authority only to urgent needs in the immediate response to emergencies…On three separate occasions, Obama and Coburn have passed legislation in the Senate that would end no-bid contracting with Gulf Coast reconstruction funds. Legislation that would have specifically prohibited no-bid contracts with Gulf Coast reconstruction was stripped from a previously passed funding bill.”  (Obama Press Release, 9/29/06)

Obama Passed An Amendment Into Law Creating A National Family Locator System. In 2006, Obama passed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Act that required the Department of Homeland Security to create a centralized family locator system through which family members can contact their lost loved ones during disasters.  The amendment, which was signed into law as part of the final version of the bill, was based on legislation Obama introduced immediately after Hurricane Katrina.  (SA 4573 as modified agreed to in Senate by Unanimous Consent, 7/13/06; H.R. 5441, Became Public Law No: 109-295; S. 1630, 109th Congress, Referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs)

WORKING FAMILIES

Obama And Hatch Passed Legislation To Protect Individuals’ Rights To Continue Donating To Charities And Religious Organizations During Bankruptcy. In 2006, Obama was an original cosponsor of a bill that protected individuals’ rights to continue donating to charities and religious organizations during bankruptcy proceedings. The Hatch-Obama bill responded to a court ruling that above-medium income debtors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy could not deduct charitable contributions, including religious contributions, from their payment plans. The ruling was based on an interpretation of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). Hatch and Obama authored S. 4044 to ensure that all individuals in bankruptcy, no matter their income, would be able to continue giving to charity and their church. The bill passed the senate by unanimous consent and was signed by the president. (S. 4044, Signed 12/20/06, Became Public Law No. 109-439)

Suggested actions items:

1. Readers may wish to visit and bookmark this earlier fact check post on Obama’s record: Highlights of Obama’s Strong Record of Accomplishment in the U.S. and Illinois Senate, January 14, 2008 and this blog by a supporter of Obama: Obama’s Record.

2. I think it would be helpful to write a polite letter to NYT’s public editor Mr. Clark Hoyt and inform him about the fact check article along with some thoughtful remarks, and perhaps request him to take suitable corrective action about the Zernike and Zeleny article.


Clark Hoyt

E-mail: public@nytimes.com

Website: Link

3. Please bookmark and frequently visit the Obama Fact Check page. The monthly archives (at the bottom of the fact check front page) are a useful source of information and rebuttals.

4. RSS feed for the fact check is here. Subscribing to it would be a useful way to keep tabs on the latest posts.

5. Please forward any links (and/or the diary link) that you find useful here to as many your friends, co-workers and family members as possible.

Thanks for reading and for taking action!

Update: To complement the posted fact check rebuttal.


Obama’s IL Senate work

From a previous NYT post (ironically).

During the first (8) eight years of his elected service he sponsored over 820 bills. He introduced:

233 regarding healthcare reform,

125 on poverty and public assistance,

112 crime fighting bills,

97 economic bills,

60 human rights and anti-discrimination bills,

21 ethics reform bills,

15 gun control,

6 veterans affairs and many others.

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepa…

From my diary: Obama’s Record Reference (a partial compilation. Updated version to follow in a few days).

2 comments

  1. Please see the comments section in the DK version for some additional remarks.

    • pfiore8 on March 11, 2008 at 4:53 am

    and digest.

    perhaps you would consider to publish this in shorter bits over a week perhaps. turn it into a short series…  

    you might not be able to do that elsewhere, but that’s what makes this place great. you can!

    great work and appreciate your invested… wow!

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