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.