• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Obama’s Legislative Accomplishments (Updated)

I have neither the time nor inclination to rummage through every bit of every politician’s speech during convention season. That said, this bit really stuck out at me:

And there is much to like and admire about our opponent.

But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform – not even in the state senate.

I think that it’s perfectly fair to criticize Barack Obama’s experience. I do not think it is fair, however, to outright lie about his experience. Obama has been quite active in the Senate and despite his short career there has actually accomplished quite a bit. Here’s a sample of some rather significant pieces of legislation that Barack Obama had a major hand in. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the policies below, but these were pretty significant and Obama played a major role:

  • The Lugar-Obama Non-Proliferation Act
    This law, authored by Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Barack Obama was passed in 2006 and signed in 2007. In the words of its authors, this is what it does:
    These vast numbers of unused conventional weapons, particularly shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles that can hit civilian airliners, pose a major security risk to America and democracies everywhere. That’s why we have introduced legislation to seek out and destroy surplus and unguarded stocks of conventional arms in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

    Our bill would launch a major nonproliferation initiative by addressing the growing threat from unsecured conventional weapons and by bolstering a key line of defense against weapons of mass destruction. Modeled after the successful Nunn-Lugar program to dismantle former Soviet nuclear weapons, the Lugar-Obama bill would seek to build cooperative relationships with willing countries.

    By all accounts, it’s been pretty successful so far.

  • The Coburn-Obama Transparency Act
    This law (which John McCain co-sponsored) was the work of Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama. It provides that all federal contracts be made transparent and available online to the public. A nice bit of sunshine into a shadowy world. You can see the results here at http://www.usaspending.gov/.
  • Relief for the Democratic Republic of Congo
    Authored, sponsored and introduced by Barack Obama, this legislation provided increased foreign aid and relief to the country, and directed the U.N. Ambassador to press the U.N. Security Council for stronger peacekeeping forces in the region.

There is, obviously, more to his U.S. Senate record than that, but this goes to show that he hasn’t exactly been doing nothing. Indeed, in the current Congress, Barack Obama is the sponsor of 129 pieces of legislation. John McCain is currently sponsoring 38.

As for his state record, Barack Obama introduced over 800 pieces of legislation as a State Senator. The New York Times has a graphic illustrating some of the key legislation here. Additionally, you can read the story of one of Obama’s signature pieces of legislation in the Illinois Statehouse here.

Now, I don’t support all of the legislation that Barack Obama has put forth, and I don’t support all of his policies now. But to claim that Barack Obama has never actually authored a piece of legislation or been active in reform measures is simply false.

Update: OpenCongress has started an analysis and comparison of the bills currently being sponsored by McCain and Obama. The Table of Contents is here, and it looks like they’re going to keep adding to it over the course of the election. This is a good one to keep bookmarked–there’s some interesting analysis there.

Related Posts:

About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp writes about pretty much everything under the sun, including politics, art, religion, philosophy, sports, music, culture, and science.

Comments

  1. @NObama4thisMama CAN you read http://tinyurl.com/5b9sbu

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. @NObama4thisMama check it out for yourself http://tinyurl.com/5b9sbu

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. talboito says:

    Silly facts.

    Bet none of his laws ever ate a moose.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  4. Beldar says:

    We’ll have to agree to disagree about the Congo bill as being “major.” Not to say that there’s anything wrong with it. And as far as I know, he can claim credit for it. I will agree that it’s more significant than getting a local post office re-named.

    The other two are pretty marginal in qualifying for that description too. But in both cases, Obama was a junior, brand-new senator of the minority party invited to co-sponsor a non-controversial bill by a senior GOP senator so that they could present it as being bipartisan. Lugar had written a previous nonproliferation bill in the 1990s and already had all the expertise. (He did invite Obama to tag along with him on a European trip, and they purportedly co-authored an WaPo op-ed shortly before it came up for a vote, which appeared on a slow-news Saturday so that both senators would have a nice clipping for their files.) The nonproliferation bill didn’t even draw a mention in the WaPo or the NYT on the day after its passage, and it passed by unanimous consent. The Coburn bill likewise passed by voice vote. Although senate courtesy requires that everyone pretend that the junior and minority-party senator co-sponsoring the bill was a real co-author, that’s a polite fiction. Tradition also is that the voice introduction be done by the senator who’s pulled the laboring oar, and Lugar and Coburn were who did the floor introductions for those two respective bills.

    Even John Kerry could claim to have done more than Obama. His greatest legislative achievement, in fact, was probably the Vietnam normalization of relations legislation, which he and McCain co-sponsored. Of course, he also put in more than two years’ service before going AWOL for all practical purposes to run for president.

    I do agree with you that the line from Palin’s speech was probably wrong to include the “even as a state senator” line. During his last couple of years then, when the party leadership was deliberately grooming him, they steered sponsorship of several bills to Obama, including most notably a bill that required videotape recordings of confessions for (IIRC) capital crimes. Again, however, that’s not something that put Obama’s political career at risk or required any serious expenditure of political capital for. If I’d been editing the speech, I’d have re-cast that line to limit it to his time as a U.S. senator.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Beldar says:

    Sorry, should have read all your links before commenting. Look, the videotaping bill might have drawn some initial opposition, but it’s a little bit like a bill prohibiting torture. Anyone who opposes it has to end up coming out in favor of abusive police conduct. And in fact, just as with squad-car TV cameras to record traffic stops, prosecutors pretty quickly figure out that having all their confessions videotaped ends up being a boon to them, because it keeps everyone in line and ends up producing much, much more compelling evidence at trial than just an officer’s testimony and a written document.

    I wonder if the Washington Monthly guy who wrote that article may have exaggerated a little bit. If this law was genuinely controversial, I can’t understand why.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. anjin-san says:

    Palin’s speech was probably wrong to include the “even as a state senator” line.

    Probably was wrong? It is a willfully stated falsehood, as is her claim about the “bridge to nowhere”.

    “Hello America, I want to be your Vice-President. Let me introduce myself by lying to you”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  7. Brett says:

    I agree with you mostly, Beldar – but realistically, as a junior senator, what was he supposed to do? He’s not a re-incarnation of Lyndon B. Johnson. I think he did his best considering his seniority and position, and when you consider that most of his Senate time was during when the Democrats were a minority party in the Senate. Expecting him to be legislatively active on important bills is right; expecting him to be really pushing and pulling on major bills from the Democratic column probably isn’t right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  8. rodney dill says:

    All the finger pointing on both sides, that Obama has NO experience and Palin has NO experience is just specious political tripe.

    Here’s another accomplishment for Obama. Now that the Detroit Mayor has apparently accepted a plea offer on his felonies (deal made last night, goes before a judge today) Obama has decided its time to call for the Mayor to step down.*

    *the felonies make this mandatory anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. By all accounts, it’s been pretty successful so far.

    Can you point out any major weapons caches destroyed under the new Lugar-Obama legislation as opposed to the Nunn-Lugar legislation? Google had lots of people praising the bill, but nothing on it leading to anything that wasn’t already in the works under the old bill. So what are “all accounts” you are referring to?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Patrick T McGuire says:

    Palin’s comment was accurate when you read it carefully. She said he hadn’t “authored” any major law or reform. There is a big difference between acutally writing legislation and being a cosponsor on legislation that someone else wrote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. The transparency act is huge, and a major part of my early interest in Obama’s career – long before he announced any intent to seek the Presidency.

    I’m not unimpressed by Palin, and neither am I dismissive of McCain as a solid candidate. Joe Lieberman’s support of McCain is also meaningful to me.

    But Obama is promising something different, in a world where “different” is very much what we need. He makes this promise not merely with words, but with tenacious and bold actions that show a strong commitment to backing up his rhetoric.

    I like that.

    And that’s really what makes the difference for me. I don’t like McCain and Palin. It isn’t that I dislike them, or find them unqualified, or see major reasons why they should never ever ever occupy the White House. I think we would be just fine with McCain and Palin in the White House.

    I just happen to be of the opinion that we would be better off with Obama and Biden – where the long-time veteran of Congress presides over the Senate, and the popular guy that everyone can’t help but like is going around as the public face of America and an agent of political change. That looks like a better deal to me.

    It seems like McCain is reversing the roles, placing similar skills in the wrong positions. I would actually be more willing to vote the Palin-McCain ticket than the McCain-Palin ticket. It’s not one job, it’s two, and you simply can’t pretend it doesn’t matter which person is doing which job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. rodney dill says:

    Patrick – I tended to see the sticking point as the use of the adjective ‘Major,’ which by nature is subjective.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. [...] colleague Alex Knapp details the response.  In his short Senate career, Obama has had his name on at least two laws and [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. [...] colleague Alex Knapp details the response.  In his short Senate career, Obama has had his name on at least two laws and [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Boltwan says:

    One additional point for this discussion: the “800” pieces of legislation on the state level he introduced. I have worked in the Illinois State Capitol, and that number does not mean anything other than that he told a Senate staffer to make a law that does X, and they sent that request to a different office that actually drafts the legislation. The staffer then probably picked up the legislation after it was made and dropped it off to be put onto the Senate Calendar for discussion.

    Also, there is a tendency among State Senators and Representatives to introduce legislation for the purposes of making a press release for their local papers that they can point to as an “accomplishment” when they come up for re-election. I am not saying that is what Obama did, but given that the vast majority of legislation introduced in the Illinois Legislature never goes to the Governor’s desk for signing, much less makes it into law, it makes any big number touted as such by Obama’s campaign or reporters in the media questionable at best; at least worthy of taking with a grain of salt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Radley Balko says:

    I wonder if the Washington Monthly guy who wrote that article may have exaggerated a little bit. If this law was genuinely controversial, I can’t understand why.

    When a similar bill passed the legislature in California, police and prosecutors lobbied like hell against it. Gov. Arnold vetoed it, and doesn’t seem to have suffered at all politically for doing so.

    It’s a smart reform. But the police hate it. The FBI, ICE, and DEA have all adamantly opposed videotaping police interrogations at the federal level, explicitly arguing that if jurors saw the tactics used in these interrogations, they may be less likely to convict.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Michael says:

    Patrick – I tended to see the sticking point as the use of the adjective ‘Major,’ which by nature is subjective.

    Which is, of course, why it was used. One can also say that George Washington never did anything of major importance in his entire life, if you use a sufficiently large value for “major”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. PD Shaw says:

    Additionally, you can read the story of one of Obama’s signature pieces of legislation in the Illinois Statehouse here.

    The linked WaPo article shows little knowledge of how legislation works in Illinois, and how Obama became involved with such “signature pieces of legislatin” as videotaped confessions. The Senate leader took the bills away from the sponsors so that Obama could carry them across the one-yard line.

    Springfield Newspaper

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Your first words:

    I have neither the time nor inclination to rummage through every bit of every politician’s speech during convention season.

    Fair enough, who does? But it doesn’t seem to stop you from cherry-picking whatever you think you can spin to support your chosen candidate.

    And your last:

    But to claim that Barack Obama has never actually authored a piece of legislation or been active in reform measures is simply false.

    But to claim that Sarah Palin claimed that Senator Obama has never actually authored a piece of legislation or been active in reform is simply false. Just curious, how many pieces of legislation that Senator Obama wrote (or even sponsored) could you name without having to look them up. The qualifier major does actually have meaning in this context.

    Your perfection perspective seems to be polarized so that light can only shine on the sins of Republicans. I think we are lucky to have as competent a group of contenders as we have had in a while. That said, I’m not excited about voting for any Senator in the race.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. PD Shaw says:

    One of the things people don’t seem to get about the Illinois legislature, particularly the Senate, is that it is very much controlled by the leaders. And when your party is not in power, you are simply not going to enact significant legislation unless its the kind of controversial legislation that the majority party needs bi-partisan cover on (like taxes and ethics). The Democrats were not in power in Illinois for Obama’s first six years.

    In January of 2003, the Democrats took control of both houses of the Illinois legislature and the governorship. This was Obama’s opportunity, but Obama decided in January of 2003 to put his hat in the ring for a very tough U.S. Senate campaign. He obtained the Senate President’s support, which allowed him to rack up some victories in the Senate while devoting his time to the campaign. The WaPo article makes it sound like the 2003 legislation was part of a long effort. No, the Republicans had blocked votes on any significant Democratic legislation for the previous 10 years. Now the Republicans are irrelevant in Illinois.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Beldar says:

    The videotaping law passed the Illinois Senate unanimously, according to the Washington Monthly article.

    Now, that could be because The One is soooooooo incredibly persuasive.

    Or it could be that the Washington Monthly reporter was exaggerating.

    Radley, was there anything else in the California bill? E.g., was it part of an omnibus bill?

    See, I don’t dispute the fact that cops and prosecutors want to make their arrests stick and get convictions. What I dispute is the notion that they routinely do so by torture. I think that’s a bogus, imaginary boogey-man dreamed up and argued by liberal journalists. I think genuine coercion is in fact quite rare. I know for a fact that enormous numbers of defendants knowingly waive their rights and confess what they’ve done because they believe (usually wrongly but sincerely) that they can get themselves as good a deal as a lawyer could, and because they feel guilty because they are guilty and, quite literally, confession is good for the soul.

    I just don’t buy that this was a controversial bill on which Obama was able to change every contrary vote. Sorry. Too wild a coincidence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Beldar says:

    Brett: I’d have no problem if Obama admitted, “The reason my record in the Senate is so thin is that (a) during my first two years, my party was in the minority and I was in the just-entered class of senators, and (b) by the time my party was in the majority, I was barely showing up in the Senate any more and was instead off running for President.”

    That would be impressive for its truth, if not for his legislative record.

    Instead, he engages in puffery. Which is a polite way of saying, fraud.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Alex Knapp says:

    Beldar,

    Instead, he engages in puffery. Which is a polite way of saying, fraud.

    [legaljoke] Not in most judrisdictions it’s not. [/endlegaljoke]

    The videotaping law passed the Illinois Senate unanimously, according to the Washington Monthly article.

    Now, that could be because The One is soooooooo incredibly persuasive.

    Or it could be that the Washington Monthly reporter was exaggerating.

    I have read several corroborating accounts of this, actually, and from all accounts Obama did most of the legwork, and this was Obama’s baby.

    See, I don’t dispute the fact that cops and prosecutors want to make their arrests stick and get convictions. What I dispute is the notion that they routinely do so by torture. I think that’s a bogus, imaginary boogey-man dreamed up and argued by liberal journalists.

    First off, I’m not sure that Radley Balko is the guy you want to make the argument to that police abuse is “dreamed up.”

    Second, most prosecutors and police obviously do not routinely trade in torture. But what they do trade in is lies. Cops will lie and say they have evidence in their possession. They will lie and say they have witness testimony that the accused committed the crime. They will hold someone in an interrogation box for hours at end until they break down. And the Courts are okay with this.

    There is VERY large body of study about false confessions, and they don’t all happen because of torture. They do happen because of psychological manipulation on the part of police and prosecutors. This manipulation, I might add, is not necessarily malicious–I’m sure that they often think they have their man and are just using the tools they have to get a confession. The problem is, these tools yield a lot of false confessions.

    What cops and prosecutors don’t want juries to see is a cop telling the accused outright falsehoods to induce confessions. It would destroy their cases.

    But in both cases, Obama was a junior, brand-new senator of the minority party invited to co-sponsor a non-controversial bill by a senior GOP senator so that they could present it as being bipartisan. Lugar had written a previous nonproliferation bill in the 1990s and already had all the expertise.

    According to Richard Lugar, Obama sought HIM out to assist with the bill. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/07/15/mccain_backer_lugar_calls_obam.html

    I don’t have any evidence one way or the other on the Coburn bill, but the prima facie evidence suggests to give him the credit unless you have some specific reason not to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Aubrey says:

    You left out the role Emil Jones played in puffing up Obama’s legislative record in the Illinois Senate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. PD Shaw says:

    I live in Illinois; Springfield to be precise, the article on videotaped confessions does not reflect the very dramatic events that began in 2000. A number of people on death row in Illinois had been exonerated by the evidence; in some cases scant days before execution. The Republican governor instituted a moratorium on the death penalty and formed a bi-partisan commission of legal experts to determine the source of error in the legal system. Two of the names on the Commission that people outside Illinois might recognize are Scott Turow and Paul Simon.

    The Commission reported back with extensive proposals to modify and update the criminal justice system in Illinois, including videotaping confessions. The Governor called on the legislature to adopt the proposals before he would lift the moratorium. There was much outrage from the Republican party and political scandals were sapping the Governor’s support. The Governor made threats suggesting he might commute all death sentences if the legislature doesn’t act, and ultimately in January of 2003, days before the Democrats came to power, the Governor commuted every death row sentence to life.

    The Democrats were now in power and in 2003, a bill requiring video-taped confessions passed the Senate by a vote of 35-0. There would have been about 35 Democrats in the Senate at the time, so I’m guessing the Democrats all voted aye, the Republicans voted present.

    I don’t see Obama as necessary to the passage of the bill; just Democratic control.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Triumph says:

    You forgot to mention one of Obama’s legislative initiatives: surrender to terrorists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Alex, nice bate and switch. Governor Palin stated Obama had not AUTHORED any legislation. Not sponsored, co sponsored or give credit for sponsorship. The only thing Obama has written is a couple of self serving autobiographies. If this is wrong, please reference. Language has meaning Alex.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Bate. Moderate or reduce. Bait. To lure for catching. Sorry about the typo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Roy Mustang says:

    Indeed, in the current Congress, Barack Obama is the sponsor of 129 pieces of legislation.

    Senators: *working hard on a bill*
    Obama: Wow guys, that looks like a neat peice of legistlation. Mind if I co-sponsor that?
    Sentaors: *grumble*

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Alex Knapp says:

    Roy,

    FYI, that 129 figure includes only legislation where Obama is the primary sponsor. I did not include bills for which he is a co-sponsor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. JohnG says:

    When you list 3 pieces of legislation, only one of which he authored and that one wasn’t exactly “major”, you prove Palin’s point.

    The point isn’t that Obama isn’t adept at getting his name attached to bills. It’s that Obama hasn’t actually created any signature piece of legislation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. bc says:

    Well,”She has poor judgment.” didn’t work. “She’s a bad mom.” didn’t work. Maybe “She’s a liar.” will work, but I doubt it. National Enquirer says,”She had an affair with a space alien.” If true, now that might work!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Xrlq says:

    Palin never said Obama hadn’t authored or co-authored any legislation at all. She said he hadn’t authored (not co-authored) a single major (not any) law or reform. Reasonable minds can disagree over whether increased aid to Congo or a requirement of videotaped confessions should be considered “major,” but apparently, reasonable disagreement isn’t good enough for Alex. No, anyone who disagrees must be a liar, presumably one complete with pants on fire.

    Can just anyone post at OTB these days?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Zaggs says:

    The accusation is did he author any of these bills and are they significant.
    I know most certainly he did not author the transparency act, Coburn was trying to get that past in 2005 so the very best you can attribute to Obama is he transcribed it though quite frankly odds favor he just put his name on the bill.
    The lugar bill says in the description its modeled after a previous Lugar bill. So what was new that Barack actually contributed to it? How significant is it? No terrorists have shoulder fired SAM’s? We know thats not true. Hezbollah didn’t have a problem getting modern anti-tank missiles. So not only is it possibly not significant, it also seems to be failing.
    So now we come to the Congo, where in 2005 UN peacekeeping personnel faced 150 human rights violations. So it seems peacekeepers were already there and doing quite a bad job. Not to mention doing a search for “peacekeepers congo” return no news stories after 2006. Since no one knows about this one how significant is it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Alex Knapp says:

    I’ll accept quibbles over “major”–that’s open to debate. But “authorship”? Let’s get real for a second–for a Senator, sponsorship is functionally the same as authorship. It has to be, or else we’d be giving Senate staffers the credit for the experience–they’re the ones who actually WRITE the bills, not the legislators who work to enact them. But we all know that WRITING the bill isn’t enough–you need to do the legwork to move through the labyrnthine procedures to get things moving and passed. Obama did a large amount of legwork on the legislation bearing his name. That’s what matters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Historian says:

    In re. Obama’s IL Senate record, did you read Todd Spivak’s article “Obama and Me”? In it he points out that:

    [Emil] Jones [Dem. IL Senate Majority Leader] appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.

    “I took all the beatings and insults and endured all the racist comments over the years from nasty Republican committee chairmen,” state Senator Rickey Hendon, the original sponsor of landmark racial profiling and videotaped confession legislation yanked away by Jones and given to Obama, complained to me at the time. “Barack didn’t have to endure any of it, yet, in the end, he got all the credit.

    Obama didn’t *write* that bill… He was handed the credit for the bill by his political patron. Spivak goes on to point out that Jones’s district has since gotten 10s of millions of earmarks from Obama’s service in the US Senate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Jim Landers says:

    She specified “..not a single major law or reform.” And I’m sorry but if that’s a list of “Barry’s Greatest Hits” none if them qualify as ‘major’. The non-proliferation act was very routine – supported by the White House, passed with a voice vote only, no recorded vote, not reported on by the NYT, WP, NBC, CBS or ABC nightly news, The Hill or Roll Call. Mentioned very briefly in Congressional Quarterly but only in relation to Lugar who did whatever heavy lifting was involved. So you might give BO a nice ‘C+ or B-‘ but certainly not valedictorian of his Senate class.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. rjschwarz says:

    I think you are parsing the difference between authored and sponsored. I could be wrong but I think the first name on a co-sponsered bill is usually the author and the second one is added to give the bill bi-partisan support. That cuts your list down to one, which Obama authored single-handedly and its not really a major anything but an increase in pressure and payouts.

    Perhaps if you look at his state achievements you’ll find more meat. He were there longer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. ZEITGEIST says:

    [...] UNFAIR HIT ON OBAMA’S RECORD: Alex Knapp is right to point out that Obama actually does have some legislative accomplishments, particularly the Coburn-Obama Transparency Act, which John McCain also cosponsored. Meanwhile, [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Todd says:

    I looked at the NYT chart linked above and at the examples given and want to know which the author considers “major law(s) or reform(s)”? I suppose one could argue the Coburn-Obama Transparency act is a major reform, but I don’t buy it. It wasn’t any sweeping reform of government, however admirable it is.

    Indeed, what struck me about the NYT chart was how unimpressive the examples they chose to highlight were.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Zaggs says:

    you need to do the legwork to move through the labyrnthine procedures to get things moving and passed. Obama did a large amount of legwork on the legislation bearing his name. That’s what matters.

    So when the facts don’t change the argument, change the argument. Obama did not do the work either on the Lugar (in fact in a TV ad did not Obama say it was about Nukes?) or Coburn acts. Coburn introduced his bill, he got Frist to give it a vote, Coburn called out Ted Stevens on his hold, hell the only thing Obama did was show up at the signing and slap his name on it (THOMAS project also has Coburn as the Sponsor and Obama may not have even been the first co-sponsor).
    Lugar already had the idea for this act, its just an extension of what he did before. Oh and what work did he do on it? According to THOMAS the bill hasn’t passed the senate (S.2566)!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. The Monk says:

    Here’s the problem with your post — “sponsoring” or “co-sponsoring” is not a particularly onerous act. It is not drafting or authoring the legislation, it is not fighting for the legislation to get the necessary votes to become law. The two main pieces of legislation (with Coburn and Lugar) are relatively minor and had no real opposition (a combined 2 dissenting votes, I think). What about all the hearings he held as chairman of a Senate subcommittee and the leadership he displayed in that position — or do we hear nothing about that because he’s held no such hearings and displayed no such leadership?

    Obama introduced 800 pieces of legislation in Illinois? Of what quality? To what end? How come he doesn’t tout that experience more — perhaps it’s because he merely put his name on 800 bills without any major expenditure of his own political capital?

    Why are there no Illinois legislators backing him and detailing what a great leader he was in the Illinois statehouse and how he championed his bills to ensure they became law? Perhaps because he did not lead, did not champion his bills, and was absent so often that he made little impression on the development of the law of Illinois?

    This absence of evidence of accomplishment is, in this case, evidence of absence of accomplishment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Floyd says:

    “”She had an affair with a space alien.” If true, now that might work!””
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Thanx bc,
    It’s about time SOMEBODY brought up the emigration issue!
    Unfortunately, the Democrats support illegal emigration, so that wouldn’t work either!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Xrlq says:

    I’ll accept quibbles over “major”–that’s open to debate.

    Then you should retract your reckless allegation that Palin “outright lie[d]” in suggesting otherwise, along with the implication that she had claimed “that Barack Obama has never actually authored a piece of legislation or been active in reform measures.” She never claimed any such thing. It is your implication about her statement, not the statement itself, that is “simply false.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. Sample Size of One…

    Glenn Reynolds deems it “a fair hit” to point out that Sarah Palin opposed sex education in connection with the latest privacy-invading over Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. To which I say, give me a friggin’ break. Abstinence-only …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. Let’s see, a copy-and-paste of Nunn-Lugar, and a website. Cool website. But a “major law or reform”? You’re joking, right?

    yours/
    peter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. Michael says:

    So let me see if I get the crux of this argument: If we assume that “co-sponsor” means that Obama did nothing more than steal credit, and “major” means something government changing, then we can discount everything that Obama has done in the US Senate.

    I wonder how many other senators, on both sides of the isle, would produce the same result? Using those same assumptions, what “major” bills has McCain “authored” in that same period, or even during his time in the Senate?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. ASlyJD says:

    It’s about time SOMEBODY brought up the emigration issue!
    Unfortunately, the Democrats support illegal emigration, so that wouldn’t work either!

    You know, I’m not sure either party has much of a stance on emigration. My guess is that Democrats favor people going to live in the European or South American socialist paradise while Republicans stick with “You live in the greatest country in the world! Why move?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. Sarge says:

    “Authoring” is not equal to “sponsoring,” in any world where having been “proud” differs substantially from having “really been proud.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. Conrad says:

    I once worked in a state legislature and can confirm what some others here have stated. The thing people need to realize is that legislators are always trying to look busy, productive, and influential to the people back home. Over the years, they have developed various contrivances to achieve this effect. One of them is the fact that any legislator or congressperson can “introduce” whatever legislation they want, even if the bill has no chance of ever seeing the light of day after it’s introduced. They don’t even have to write the bill themselves; there are staffers who do that. Once the bill is introduced, the legislator’s staff writes up a press release announcing the introduction of the bill in the hopes that the hometown paper includes a mention of it on the next slow news day. Even if the bill doesn’t get that kind of ink, it can still go into the next newsletter sent out to voters or on the legislator’s website.

    Another self-promotion tactic is to “co-sponsor” legislation that another legislator is trying to push through. It sound good to the folks back home, and it doesn’t require any effort whatsoever.

    Palin’s claim that Obama hasn’t authored any major legislation or reforms is absolutely correct. Putting aside the fact that Obama was merely going along for the ride on the Lugar and Coburn bills, neither of those pieces of legislation, nor the Congo deal, can be considered major. I’m not sure what kind of metrics to use to define “major,” but it should involve a significant and noteworthy change in policy. Recent pieces of major legislation include: NCLB, bankruptcy reform, class-action reform, the bill(s) to create the Dept. of Homeland Security and reorganize the govt post-9/11, medicare prescription drugs, campaign finance reform, USA Patriot Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.

    The fact that Obama hasn’t authored any major legislation in the Senate is by no means surprising given the short amount of time he has been in Washington. However, Palin makes a valid point in juxtaposing the fact that Obama has written two memoirs with the fact that he hasn’t really accomplished anything of great or lasting significance in the Senate. The point isn’t that he lacks achievements, it’s that he lacks humility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. mannning says:

    Truth seems to be that Obama was “constructively involved” in a few bills of minor consequence in the Senate: a score of slightly above freezing. Seems also that he voted “present” in the Illinois legislature well over a hundred times, not saying yea or nay to the propositions.

    However Palin stated it, and however one tries to spin it, this is a flatly miserable legislative record, for which a candidate for the Presidency should be castigated. What “experience” does this record support? “Present!”

    Bah!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  52. Michael says:

    Seems also that he voted “present” in the Illinois legislature well over a hundred times, not saying yea or nay to the propositions.

    Explain to me how that is a bad thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  53. EntropyIncreases says:

    So Alex, are you prepared to retract your statement about Gov Palin’s comments being a lie?

    If not, please detail specifically what legislation Obama or his staff have authored which you consider to be major. Either in the US Senate or the Illinois legislature.

    The list you have included so far is pretty weak.

    And someone please explain the “change” you think Obama is bringing. Sen Biden? A new understanding of what a veto in the UN Security Council means? Working across the aisle like Sen McCain is known and reviled for doing? Raising corporate taxes? For a follow up, explain how the change is a good change, please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  54. EntropyIncreases says:

    Darklock,

    You say:

    He makes this promise not merely with words, but with tenacious and bold actions that show a strong commitment to backing up his rhetoric.

    How has Sen. Obama backed up his words with tenacious and bold actions? Public financing? Telling Georgia they need to show restraint in dealing with a Russian invasion? Not going after Gov. Palin’s pregnant daughter himself?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. belloscm says:

    Palin claims that Obama is a legislative featherweight. Alex has convinced me that this is not true; he’s actually a lightweight. Class promotion granted due to false argumentation and points allowed for opportunistic “co-sponsorship.”

    Glad to see that Obama has people like Alex K. in his corner. While he may be able to stanch the bleeding, he can’t remove the marks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  56. A Post in Which I Keep My Word…

    Last Night, Gov. Palin claimed that Barack Obama had done nothing significant while in the US Senate. I have echoed that statement. I was wrong. * The Lugar-Obama Non-Proliferation Act This law, authored by Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Barack Obama was pas…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. Donny Shaw says:

    Just wanted to pass along links to Obama and McCain’s profiles on OpenCongress, where you can see every bill their sponsoring and learn all about them through news and blog buzz, user comments and reviewing the bill text.

    John McCainbills McCain has sponsored

    Barack Obamabills Obama has sponsored

    I’ve analyzed a bunch of the bills each of the have sponsored in Congress:

    By the Bills: Obama vs. McCain

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  58. @EntropyIncreases:

    “How has Sen. Obama backed up his words with tenacious and bold actions?”

    He said he was going to bring more transparency to government, and he did.

    Meanwhile, you complain that he has played by the rules there are (instead of his proposed new rules), given advice you don’t like, and only “not done” something that he actually spoke strongly against. No, Obama is not the perfect candidate for you to support, and you should vote for the better candidate under your criteria.

    Under mine, the better candidate is Obama. You go right ahead and make your decision however you want; I’ve already explained what mine is and why I’ve made it. Meanwhile, you’re arguing that Sarah Palin technically did not lie… because no true Scotsman would do such a thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. mannning says:

    Michael: Do you elect and pay your legislators to take up space and vote present a large number of times? What glorious progress your legislators would make! What happened to taking clear positions and voting for or against the supporting legislation? Opting out a significant number of times to me is pure chicken, waste of money, waste of time, and waste of a position.

    But then, that may be just fine to some people, especially those that agree with opting out at every turn: simply doing a non-vote thing! You tell me why someone would not come up with a yea or a nay in by far the majority of votes. Someone said the count in Obama’s case was 124 “present” votes or thereabouts; a stirling non-voting record! Why have this man there at all?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  60. bbbeard says:

    The key word is “major”. You can call it a weasel-word if you’d like, but the point is that there are major pieces of legislation like McCain-Feingold and then there are “National Summer Learning Day” resolutions. Obama’s resume shows lots of the latter kind of activity. Well, good for him. I like learning during the summer. But none of laws bearing his name are “major.”

    Authorship is deliberately murky in the Senate, but it would appear that Lugar crafted Lugar-Obama and got BO on board “in the spirit of bipartisanship”.

    Here’s your sign: go to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency site and search for “Nunn-Lugar”. Then do the same for “Lugar-Obama”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  61. juandos says:

    Interestingly enough but not unexpected this cheer leader for Obama doesn’t present the biggest potential rip off of the taxpayers by Obama and his fellow travelers: Obama, Hagel, Cantwell, Smith Hail Committee Passage of the Global Poverty Act

    Edward Cline has a comment about this ‘feel good crapola‘: “Congress is proposing, in Barack Obama’s Global Poverty Act (S.2433, based on H.R. 1302, passed by the House September 25, 2007), that Americans be delivered into a state of indentured servitude as laborers for the United Nations. Perhaps “indentured servitude” is too kind a term, for as horrendous a condition as it is, there is usually a time limit to such servitude. Slavery would be the more accurate term in this instance, for what Congress is considering is servitude by Americans in perpetuity, in exchange for nothing but the privilege of laboring to “save” the world without thanks or reward, of filling the alleged needs of others, of performing unlimited “community service” for the offense of merely existing“…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  62. Michael says:

    Do you elect and pay your legislators to take up space and vote present a large number of times?

    I elect them to represent me in government. If a bill is up for a vote that either has no bearing on me, or which I have no preference for or against, then ideally my representative would also abstain from taking a position. Furthermore, if they don’t have the knowledge necessary to make an informed vote, they should abstain. For example, Ted Stevens obviously has no business voting on net neutrality.

    Someone said the count in Obama’s case was 124 “present” votes or thereabouts; a stirling non-voting record!

    What is that in percentage of votes cast?

    Opting out a significant number of times to me is pure chicken, waste of money, waste of time, and waste of a position.

    If Obama were to have voted yea or nay, it would have consumed the exact same amount of time, money, and position as voting “present” did. Unless you’re of the opinion that the government should be doing something, anything, whenever possible, I don’t see the waste.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  63. EntropyIncreases says:

    Darklock –
    I guess you weren’t paying attention, but Sen Obama did not author that bill of which you are so proud. So his actions, while somewhat helpful I guess, were weak in comparison to the actual author of the bill’s.

    So I call your bluff and raise you. He is a lightweight politician who was groomed for years and is happy to shoulder into someone else’s efforts and take credit. You have been wooed by a smooth talker, not by substance. But please show me that I am wrong, because it is sad to think the American voters have been had so badly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  64. anjin-san says:

    Still finding the right wing attack line “Obama has not created enough rules and regulations” interesting, coming from folks who supposedly oppose lots of government rules and regulations…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  65. EntropyIncreases says:

    Donny Shaw, thanks for the comparison.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  66. mannning says:

    Some few abstentions are obviously indicated, but if that number becomes too large, as in Obama’s case, it would seem that the representative is either incompetent, uninformed, or needs to recuse himself far too many times to be an effective legislator.

    At 124 non-votes, you need to get a new man that is up to the job. Obama was not up to it, and if he was your representative, he failed you, in my opinion. He wasted his salary, and held down a position that a real legislator could have used effectively.

    This is one hell of a good reason not to live in Chicago or Illinois in general–corrupt politics, including Obama’s role in it, and he will always be tagged with being from “The Daley Machine” and the Wright Church!

    Bah! It is terribly hard to believe that we are this close to electing someone from that turgid and stinking mess to the Presidency.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  67. Light says:

    So… has Obama ever had to be Responsible for anything besides himself and his family? Writing a law has very little to do with the management of an entire country. As far as I’m concerned, all legislators are pretty much “fire and forget” and hope the Executive Branch can handle it and the Judicial Branch won’t reject it. Maybe if Obama had some experience running a company that grossed $1M or more (not much $ at all), I’d have more confidence in him. His judgment certainly leaves something to be desired.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  68. Michael says:

    At 124 non-votes, you need to get a new man that is up to the job.

    Would you apply that to every senator, or is this just a special requirement for Obama?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  69. Michael says:

    manning said:

    You tell me why someone would not come up with a yea or a nay in by far the majority of votes. Someone said the count in Obama’s case was 124(*) “present” votes or thereabouts;

    to which I asked:

    What is that in percentage of votes cast?

    I hate to answer my own question, but it seems that you’re not so inclined. Obama votes “present” for roughly 3% of the votes he cast in the Illinois senate.

    Now, I’m not sure what definition of “majority” you were using, but I generally assume it to mean > 50%.

    (*)It was 129 times, you’re probably thinking of the 124 votes Obama missed in the US senate this year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  70. mannning says:

    At this moment, I only know about Obama’s “present” votes, which you have bumped up to 129. At 3%, if that is a correct number, it means that he sat on his hands there 3% or more of the time.

    What was his justification for this? What bills of importance did he deliberately refuse to give a yea or nay to? Do we give our elected employees a 3% forgiveness for not doing their homework, or for not coping with the stream of bills sufficiently to act? Nice idea!

    Give them all a 3% raise or more, since they did not hire enough staff to help them do their job properly. Now that sounds like a probable event! Not enough staff…another bad move. Doesn’t anyone up there have any supervision of those legislators? Fire and forget indeed! Quite firable and forgettable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  71. Michael says:

    At 3%, if that is a correct number, it means that he sat on his hands there 3% or more of the time.

    When you say it that way, I don’t think anybody is going to get too upset over it. It certainly is less damning that “by far the majority of votes”.

    What was his justification for this? What bills of importance did he deliberately refuse to give a yea or nay to?

    He’s given various justifications for a variety of the bills he voted present for. Some were indeed questionable, but others were certainly justifiable. If you really care about the answer to that question, I’ll supply you a link.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  72. B Dubya says:

    If one is discussing Senator Obama’s record, let’s not forget to consider the potential for him to acquire an entirely different kind of record. I believe that he is a stand-alone candidate in this election cycle to be termed the POTUS candidate most likely to be indicted on corruption charges and thereby gain an arrest record and a probable conviction record.
    Tony Resko’s “contributions” to Obama’s house purchasing program and the extraordinary boost Michelle Obama’s salary got right after BHO fed her employers $1 million plus in federal pork just seem too obvious to ignore. That’s the kind of hopey changiness we have come to expect from Chicago Democrats. It is exactly the kind of corrupt behavior that got Randy (Duke) Cunningham (R, San Diego ca.) convicted and behind bars.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. Michael says:

    believe that he is a stand-alone candidate in this election cycle to be termed the POTUS candidate most likely to be indicted on corruption charges and thereby gain an arrest record and a probable conviction record.
    Tony Resko’s “contributions” to Obama’s house purchasing program and the extraordinary boost Michelle Obama’s salary got right after BHO fed her employers $1 million plus in federal pork just seem too obvious to ignore.

    I’m sure the prosecutors will get right on that just as soon as they finally convict Bill Clinton of killing Vince Foster, Richard Nixon for faking the moon landing and Eisenhower for hiding the Roswell aliens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  74. @EntropyIncreases:
    “You have been wooed by a smooth talker, not by substance.”

    I happen to be of the opinion that a likable and smooth-talking President is a Good Thing. I believe a great deal of Obama’s substance comes from his willingness to admit that he does not know or can not do certain things, and defer to those who do know them or can do them.

    I also believe that GW’s failures – which, in my opinion, are not particularly numerous or egregious – stem from a failure to do precisely that. So, too, did Clinton’s failures. Bush senior suffered from a similar problem, albeit much less frequently. Reagan barely suffered from it at all. Carter suffered greatly from it. Ford suffered from it. Nixon suffered from it. And that’s every President that has served during my lifetime.

    So what you identify as a lack of substance happens to be what I find the single greatest missing link in the Presidencies of the past forty years. If I were to rank the Presidents of my lifetime in order of effectiveness and quality, those on the top of the list would be those who suffered least from this problem – from which Obama suffers even less than Reagan.

    My support for Obama is not so much about what he has done, but who he is – which largely revolves around the idea that he has not done what others were better suited to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  75. mannning says:

    So enough “small potatoes”, and “insignificant” noise has been injected into this voting “present” issue that many people will back off and go quiet about it. Back to business as usual up there. Obama never had my vote in the first place, so it doesn’t change anything for me.

    It appears that he has managed to look much more active this year in the Senate, but much of it just might be attaching his name to bills already crafted to make him look good. What a way to run the Senate, with this Senator absent much of the time to run for President, yet he gets his name on a lot of bills anyway.

    God help the USA if any of “his” bills get passed and signed, and God help us if he actually gets elected to the Presidency. No man has a record that is further to the left than Obama. This is intolerable to me, but I have only one vote to give to prevent his election, and to elect Mccain/Palin, which I will submit when the time comes.

    Vote Republican!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  76. @mannning:
    “much of it just might be attaching his name to bills already crafted to make him look good”

    How do you know it’s not to make those bills look good? Obama’s a slim-lead favorite right now. Surely it hasn’t eluded the actual crafters of the bill that putting his name on it might have political value when promoting the bill to others.

    By saying “I’ve crafted this bill with Senator Obama”, they get the immediate and largely irrational support of pretty much everyone that supports Obama, even if all he did was look at the bill and say “yeah, that looks good, I’d vote for that”. It may not be the way politics ought to work, but it’s the way politics does work, so I’m not going to hold it against anyone. You can’t criticise the players for playing the game according to the established rules. If the rules are intolerable, change them… but until they’re changed, everyone has every right to play by the rules we have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  77. Michael says:

    It appears that he has managed to look much more active this year in the Senate, but much of it just might be attaching his name to bills already crafted to make him look good. What a way to run the Senate

    It’s amazing how bad a person seems, when you always assume the worst of them. You don’t know that he’s just attaching his names to bill, you’re assuming he does. Then in the very next sentence you use your assumption to support your implication that he is a bad Senator. I’m not even sure what logical fallacy that is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  78. [...] including an important nuclear noproliferation bill and a bill (co-sponsored with John McCain) that established transparency in federal contracts. His bills in the Illinois State Legislature have also been [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  79. Kathy says:

    From OMB Watch, 24 May 2006 (emphasis added):

    On April 6, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Barack Obama (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 2590). The bill requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to make information on federal contracts and grants publicly accessible through a searchable website.

    ##

    (reposting – post with two links caught by spam filter)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  80. Kathy says:

    Two Ds, two Rs. Coburn is the prime sponsor (the Rs controlled the Senate):

    http://thomas.loc.gov/

    (reposting – post with two links caught by spam filter)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  81. Kathy says:

    Neither of Lugar’s nuclear proliferatiaon bills became law.

    S.1949
    Title: A bill to provide for coordination of proliferation interdiction activities and conventional arms disarmament, and for other purposes.

    Sponsor: Sen Lugar, Richard G. [IN] (introduced 11/1/2005)

    Cosponsors (1) – Obama

    Related Bills: S.2566

    Latest Major Action: 2/9/2006 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Foreign Relations. Hearings held.

    RELATED
    S 2556, A bill to provide for coordination of proliferation interdiction activities and conventional arms disarmament, and for other purposes

    Sponsor: Sen Lugar, Richard G. [IN] (introduced 4/6/2006)

    Cosponsors (26) includes Barack Obama

    Latest Major Action: 5/25/2006 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 456.

    Thomas.loc.gov

    Perhaps you are referencing another bill that THOMAS doesn’t want to share with me?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  82. Alex Knapp says:

    Passed Senate as S.2566, incorporated into HR 6060 and signed into law on Jan 11, 2007.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0