So itâ€™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), heâ€™s off to a good start, but there are definitely things that I wish heâ€™d jump on sooner rather than later. Hereâ€™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 â€œU.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 2001â€). As I wrote in American Terrorist, this act â€œgave the government the right to read your email, search your home without your knowledge and detain suspected foreign terrorists indefinitely.â€ And itâ€™s still kicking. While Promise #179 says that, â€œBarack 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,â€ simply â€œrevisitingâ€ this act isnâ€™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 â€œstrengthen 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.â€ 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 â€œOperation Iraqi Freedomâ€â€”which I long ago labeled a shitshowâ€”but does nothing to bring all our troops home from the Middle East. Not only do I want him to do this, but Iâ€™m pissed that heâ€™s already kept Promise #134: Send two additional brigades to Afghanistan. Iâ€™m sure some of yâ€™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 weâ€™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 â€œban unilateral changes, …apply interest rate increases only to future debt, …prohibit interest on fees, …prohibit â€˜universal defaults,â€™ …require prompt and fair crediting of cardholder payments.â€
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 futureâ€”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 â€œsign 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,â€ 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 thatâ€™s just meâ€¦
What do you want to see President Obama do next?
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