Now What?

So it’s been a month since our homeboy Obama took office. In that time, according to PolitiFact.com, he has already kept 15 of the estimated 511 campaign promises he made in his race to the big house on Pennsylvania Ave. From pledging to close Gitmo to rescinding the Mexico City Policy (and therefore lifting a ban on U.S. funding for international health groups that provide family planning services), he’s off to a good start, but there are definitely things that I wish he’d jump on sooner rather than later. Here’s my short list of stuff I want him to make happen in the next couple of months:

1. Repeal the USA PATRIOT Act (the “U.niting and S.trengthening A.merica by P.roviding A.ppropriate T.ools R.equired to I.ntercept and O.bstruct T.errorism Act of 2001”). As I wrote in American Terrorist, this act “gave the government the right to read your email, search your home without your knowledge and detain suspected foreign terrorists indefinitely.” And it’s still kicking. While Promise #179 says that, “Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision,” simply “revisiting” this act isn’t good enough. It needs to be burned, ASAP. *Looks around anxiously.*

2. Increase minority access to capital. This is #16 on the list, which sees Obama promising to “strengthen Small Business Administration programs that provide capital to minority-owned businesses, support outreach programs that help minority business owners apply for loans, and work to encourage the growth and capacity of minority firms.” Bring it on.

3. Begin removing combat brigades from Iraq. Clocking in at Promise #126, bringing home the troops in Iraq over the next 16 months is a first step in ending “Operation Iraqi Freedom”—which I long ago labeled a shitshow—but does nothing to bring all our troops home from the Middle East. Not only do I want him to do this, but I’m pissed that he’s already kept Promise #134: Send two additional brigades to Afghanistan. I’m sure some of y’all disagree with me on this, but I think we need to end this war and bring everybody home. Period.

4. End the Stop-Loss program, which forces troops to stay in service beyond their expected commitments. While we’re on the subject of the military, Promise #144 would limit deployments to one year for every six years and restore a previous 24-month max for cumulative deployment time.

5. Establish a credit card bill of rights. Promise #33 needs to happen now, as more and more folks see their rates skyrocket on all their cards, after just one missed payment. The proposed bill of rights would “ban unilateral changes, …apply interest rate increases only to future debt, …prohibit interest on fees, …prohibit ‘universal defaults,’ …require prompt and fair crediting of cardholder payments.”

6. Create a retirement savings tax credit for low-income earners. The tax credit promised in #23 would give single folks making less than $32,500 an annual $250 break to encourage retirement investment; it jumps to $500 for couples banking less than $65,000. This is so necessary, as low-income families everywhere find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty when they don’t make enough money to save for their future—or for future generations.

7. Ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies. Hmm. While it sounds really good that Obama used Promise #303 to pledge to “sign legislation that will ban the practice of racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal funding to state and local police departments if they adopt policies to prohibit the practice,” can it really work? I think the cultural biases that contribute to racial profiling run deeper than a few extra dollars in the budget. But maybe that’s just me…

What do you want to see President Obama do next?
—Kenrya

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Last 5 posts by kenrya

  • Derek

    1. Ban the practice of extraordinary rendition.

    2. Observe the standards of international law, respecting the sovereignty of nations like, oh, say, Pakistan — instead of drone-bombing them at will.

    3. Abandon the disgraceful abuse of the state secrets privilege, which the Obama administration has seamlessly continued following Bush & Co.

    4. End — in deed, not just words — the practice of torture, and prosecute those who have engaged — and are engaging — in it in our name.

    5. Apply the actual rule of law to members of the previous administration who have committed crimes.

    6. Withdraw unconditional support for Israel and apply diplomatic pressure both for the cessation of new settlement activity and for the creation of a *viable* Palestinian state.

    I don’t expect a single one of these things to happen.

  • Erica

    1. Give the residents of DC voting representation!

  • Shera

    Hear, hear on more funding for minority (and women) business. The Bush administration tried for every single one of its eight years to kill the SBA as well as its microloan program that funds tiny loans to micro-entrepreneurs. We’re talking the gal next door starting a t-shirt business or a taco stand. Yet he would stand up constantly and shout about how he was supporting small business, the engine of our economy after all. Obama needs to fully support the SBA, fund more microloans and enforce the minority/women/dbe contracting rules instead of having all the big contracts go to the huge corporations.