Pro: "Today [Jan. 22, 2011] marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women's health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.
I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption."
David Jackson, "Obama Recalls Roe v. Wade, Backs Abortion Rights," USA TODAY, Jan. 22, 2011
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I oppose spousal notification or consent [to obtain an abortion]. Regarding parental notification, I would oppose any legislation that does not include a bypass provision for minors who have been victims of, or have reason to fear, physical or sexual abuse."
"IVI-IPO 2004 US Senate Questionnaire," Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization, Jan. 5, 2004
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I know there are many who question how the United States perceives China's emergence. But as I have said - in an inter-connected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game, and nations need not fear the success of another. Cultivating spheres of cooperation - not competing spheres of influence - will lead to progress in the Asia Pacific."
"Obama Calls for New Era in Trans-Pacific Relations," Voice of America website, Nov. 14, 2009
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "You know, most Americans use credit cards all the time. In the majority of cases, this is a convenience or a temporary, occasional crutch: a means to make life a little easier; to make the rare, large, or unexpected purchase that's paid off as quickly as possible.
We've also seen credit cards become, for a minority of customers, part of an uneasy, unstable dependence. Some end up in trouble because of reckless spending or wishful thinking. Some get in over their heads by not using their heads. And I want to be clear: We do not excuse or condone folks who've acted irresponsibly. We don't excuse irresponsibility.
But the reason this legislation is so important is because there are many others - many who have written me letters, or grabbed my arm along rope lines, or shared their stories while choking back tears - who relied on credit cards not because they were avoiding responsibilities, but precisely because they wanted to meet their responsibilities - and got trapped...
Over the past decade, credit card debt has increased by 25 percent in our country. Nearly half of all Americans carry a balance on their cards. Those who do, carry an average balance of more than $7,000...
I want to be clear about this: Credit card companies provide a valuable service; we don't begrudge them turning a profit. We just want to make sure that they do so while upholding basic standards of fairness, transparency, and accountability. Just as we demand credit card users to act responsibly, we demand that credit card companies act responsibly, too. And that's not too much to ask."
Signing ceremony for The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, www.whitehouse.gov, May 22, 2009
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I am a strong believer that we have to think more about drugs as a public health problem. When you think about other damaging activities in our society: smoking, drunk driving... typically we've made huge strides over the last 20 or 30 years by changing people's attitudes. On drugs I think a lot of times we have been so focused on arrest, incarceration, interdiction, that we don't spend as much time thinking about how do we shrink demand...
[W]hen we have nonviolent, first-time drug offenders, are there ways that we can make sure that we're steering them into the straight and narrow without automatically resorting to incareration, drug courts, mechanisms like that. These are all issues that are worth exploring, and worth a serious debate."
"Your Interview with the President: State of the Union 2011," YouTube.com, Jan. 27, 2011
Con: "...[T]there is a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.
As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in this society. That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made.
And yet the fact of the matter is, is that this still haunts us. And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently and oftentime for no cause casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody is going to be."
"News Conference by the President," www.whitehouse.gov, July 22, 2009
Now Pro: "...[W]e're prepared to show flexibility and not be stuck in a Cold War mentality dating back to when I was born. On the other hand, we have to see a signal back from the Cuban government that it is following through on releasing political prisoners, on providing people their basic human rights, in order for us to be fully engaged with them. And so far, at least, what we haven't seen is the kind of genuine spirit of transformation inside of Cuba that would justify us eliminating the embargo...
And as long as I'm President I will always be prepared to change our Cuba policy if and when we start seeing a serious intention on the part of the Cuban government to provide liberty for its people. But that's always my watchword, is are we seeing freedom for the Cuban people to live lives of opportunity and prosperity. If we are, then we'll be supportive of them."
"Open for Questions with President Obama," whitehouse.gov, Sep. 28, 2011
[Editor's Note: Prior to the Sep. 28, 2011 Pro position above, Obama also made the following Pro comment during an Aug. 25, 2007 speech in Miami, FL, while serving as US Senator (D-IL) during the 2008 presidential election:
"As President I am not going to take off the embargo, it's an important inducement for change because we know that Castro's death will not automatically guarantee freedom."]
Con: “I think it's time for us to end the embargo on Cuba... Our planet is shrinking. And our biggest foreign policy challenge… is how do we make sure that other countries, in developing nations, are providing sustenance for their people, human rights for their people, a basic structure of government for their people, that is stable and secure so they can be partners in a brighter future for the entire planet. And the Cuban embargo has failed to provide the sorts of rising standards of living, and has squeezed the innocents in Cuba and utterly failed to overthrow Castro, who has now been there since I was born. It is now time to acknowledge that that particular policy has failed.”
Speech at Southern Illinois University, YouTube.com, Jan. 20, 2004
Pro: "While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes- mass murder, the rape and murder of a child- so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment."
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, 2006
Pro: "Now, first, the bill [Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act] being considered in the Senate would create what we did not have before, and that is a way to protect the financial system and the broader economy and American taxpayers in the event that a large financial firm begins to fail. If there’s a Lehmans or an AIG, how can we respond in a way that doesn’t force taxpayers to pick up the tab or, alternatively, could bring down the whole system...
[W]hen this crisis began, crucial decisions about what would happen to some of the world’s biggest companies -- companies employing tens of thousands of people and holding hundreds of billions of dollars in assets -- had to take place in hurried discussions in the middle of the night. And that’s why, to save the entire economy from an even worse catastrophe, we had to deploy taxpayer dollars. Now, much of that money has now been paid back and my administration has proposed a fee to be paid by large financial firms to recover all the money, every dime, because the American people should never have been put in that position in the first place.
But this is why we need a system to shut these firms down with the least amount of collateral damage to innocent people and innocent businesses. And from the start, I’ve insisted that the financial industry, not taxpayers, shoulder the costs in the event that a large financial company should falter. The goal is to make certain that taxpayers are never again on the hook because a firm is deemed 'too big to fail.'
[T]he system as it stands is what led to a series of massive, costly taxpayer bailouts. And it’s only with reform that we can avoid a similar outcome in the future. In other words, a vote for reform is a vote to put a stop to taxpayer-funded bailouts. That’s the truth. End of story."
"Remarks by the President on Wall Street Reform," www.whitehouse.gov, Apr. 22, 2010
Pro: "On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number-one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.
We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back."
"State of the Union Address," www.whitehouse.gov, Jan. 24, 2012
Pro: "Understand - raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up. In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine. Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it. President Reagan did it 18 times. George W. Bush did it 7 times. And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won't be able to pay all of our bills...
For the first time in history, our country's Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet. Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, mortgages, and car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people. We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis - one caused almost entirely by Washington.
Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate."
"Address by the President to the Nation," White House website, July 25, 2011
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The Administration will work with the Federal Housing Finance Agency ('FHFA') to develop a plan to responsibly reduce the role of the Federal National Mortgage Association ('Fannie Mae') and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ('Freddie Mac') in the mortgage market and, ultimately, wind down both institutions. We recommend FHFA employ a number of policy levers – including increased guarantee fee pricing, increased down payment requirements, and other measures – to bring private capital back into the mortgage market and reduce taxpayer risk. As the market improves and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are wound down, it should be clear that the government is committed to ensuring that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sufficient capital to perform under any guarantees issued now or in the future and the ability to meet any of their debt obligations. We believe that under our current Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs), there is sufficient funding to ensure the orderly and deliberate wind down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as described in our plan.
Successful reform will require more than just winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reducing other government support to the housing market."
"Housing Finance Market: A Report to Congress," www.treasury.gov, Feb. 2011
Con: "I've put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan...
And the way we do it is $2.50 for every cut, we ask for a dollar of additional revenue, paid for, as I indicated earlier, by asking those of us who have done very well in this country to contribute a little bit more to reduce the deficit...
There has to be revenue in addition to cuts. Now, Governor Romney has ruled out revenue. He's — he's ruled out revenue...
If we're serious, we've got to take a balanced, responsible approach..."
Presidential debate, University of Denver, www.npr.org, Oct. 3, 2012
Pro: "...[A]s I look out on this crowd and as I travel across this country, the one thing I know for certain is that labor unions are still mobilizing. Labor unions are still organizing. And you're still fighting to give America's working people a voice in Washington.
I'm tired of playing defense. I know the AFL-CIO [American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization] is tired of playing defense. We're ready to play some offense. We're ready to play offense for a decent wage. We're ready to play offense for retirement security...
We're ready to play offense for organized labor. It's time we had a President who didn't choke saying the word 'union.' A President who knows it's the Department of Labor and not the Department of Management. And a President who strengthens our unions by letting them do what they do best - organize our workers. If a majority of workers want a union, they should get a union."
"Remarks for Senator Barack Obama: AFL-CIO," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Apr. 2, 2008
Con: "We can't keep passing unfair trade deals like NAFTA that put special interests over workers' interests...
I don't think NAFTA has been good for America -- and I never have. I didn't just start criticizing unfair trade deals like NAFTA because I started running for office -- I'm doing it because I've seen what happens to a community when the factory closes down and the jobs move overseas."
"Remarks for Senator Barack Obama: National Gypsum in Lorain, Ohio," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Feb. 24, 2008
[Editor's Note: On Oct. 21, 2011, Obama signed the US-Korean Trade Agreement, the US-Panama Trade Agreement, and the US-Colombia Trade Agreement.]
Con: "Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.
We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it. So let’s change it.
First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.
Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America...
So my message is simple. It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away."
"State of the Union Address," www.whitehouse.gov, Jan. 24, 2012
Con: "[W]hat I have consistently talked about is to take a comprehensive approach where we focus on abstinence, where we are teaching the sacredness of sexuality to our children.
But we also recognize the importance of good medical care for women, that we're also recognizing the importance of age-appropriate education to reduce risks. I do believe that contraception has to be part of that education process."
Pro: "...[W]e’ve got to have an economy in which every American has access to a world-class higher education...
But the challenge is it's getting tougher and tougher to afford it. Since most of you were born, tuition and fees have more than doubled. That forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt...
Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever. Think about that. That’s inexcusable...
...[M]y administration is increasing federal student aid so more students can afford college. And one of the things I'm proudest of, with the help of all these members of Congress, we won a tough fight to stop handing out tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to banks that issue student loans and shift that money to where it should go, directly to the students and to the families who need it.
Tens of billions of dollars that were going to subsidies for banks are now going to students in the form of more grants and lower rates on loans. We’ve capped student loan payments so that nearly 1.6 million students - including a bunch of you - are only going to have to pay 10 percent of your monthly income towards your loans once you graduate - 10 percent of your monthly income."
"Remarks by the President on College Affordability, Ann Arbor, Michigan," www.whitehouse.gov, Jan. 27, 2012
Now Not Clearly Pro or Con: "And I want to say the goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable, and President Bush deserves credit for that. Higher standards are the right goal. Accountability is the right goal. Closing the achievement gap is the right goal. And we’ve got to stay focused on those goals. But experience has taught us that, in it’s implementation, No Child Left Behind had some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping them. Teachers too often are being forced to teach to the test. Subjects like history and science have been squeezed out. And in order to avoid having their schools labeled as failures, some states, perversely, have actually had to lower their standards in a race to the bottom instead of a Race to the Top. They don't want to get penalized? Let’s make sure that the standards are so low that we’re not going to be seen failing to meet them. That makes no sense.”
"Remarks by the President on No Child Left Behind Flexibility," www.whitehouse.gov, Sep. 23, 2011
Con: [Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Sep. 23, 2011 Not Clearly Pro or Con position above, he held a Con position as indicated by the Jan. 28, 2008 statement below from "Issues: Education" on his official 2008 presidential campaign website.]
"No Child Left Behind Left the Money Behind: The goal of the law was the right one, but unfulfilled funding promises, inadequate implementation by the Education Department and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have limited its effectiveness and undercut its support. As a result, the law has failed to provide high-quality teachers in every classroom and failed to adequately support and pay those teachers."']
Con: [Editor's Note: On Mar. 29, 2011 the Executive Office of the President released a "Statement of Administration Policy," available at www.whitehouse.gov, on HR 471 - the "Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act." It contained the following statement:
"While the Administration appreciates that H.R. 471 would provide Federal support for improving public schools in the District of Columbia (D.C.), including expanding and improving high-quality D.C. public charter schools, the Administration opposes the creation or expansion of private school voucher programs that are authorized by this bill. The Federal Government should focus its attention and available resources on improving the quality of public schools for all students. Private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement...
While the President's FY 2012 Budget requests funding to improve D.C. public schools and expand high-quality public charter schools, the Administration opposes targeting resources to help a small number of individuals attend private schools rather than creating access to great public schools for every child.]
"Statement of Administration Policy," www.whitehouse.gov, Mar. 29, 2011
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "We have piled on a lot of standardized tests on our kids. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a standardized test being given occasionally just to give a baseline of where kids are at…
Too often what we’ve been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools. And so what we’ve said is let’s find a test that everybody agrees makes sense; let’s apply it in a less pressured-packed atmosphere; let’s figure out whether we have to do it every year or whether we can do it maybe every several years; and let’s make sure that that’s not the only way we’re judging whether a school is doing well…
So what I want to do is — one thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching to the test. Because then you’re not learning about the world; you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not earning about math. All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and the little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test."
Bob Murphy, "Obama on Obama," www.blogcea.org, Apr. 7, 2011, quoting Obama from a Mar. 20, 2011 public forum hosted by Univision
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "If a teacher is given a chance or two chances or three chances but still does not improve, there's no excuse for that person to continue teaching. I reject a system that rewards failure and protects a person from its consequences."
"Transcript: Obama Speaks to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce," www.washingtonpost.com, Mar. 10, 2009
Con: "With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems."
"Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address," www.whitehouse.gov, Jan. 10, 2010
[Editor's Note: In additon to the above Con statement, Barack Obama made the following Con response on Aug. 29, 2012 during an online question and answer session on Reddit, available at www.redditt.com:
"Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change."]
Con: "Expressing the sense of Congress that any effort to impose photo identification requirements for voting should be rejected...
Whereas historically, certain citizens, especially racial minorities, have been prevented from voting because of significant barriers such as literacy tests, poll taxes, and property requirements;
Whereas in the face of persistently low voter turnout relative to other industrialized democracies, exaggerated fears of voter impersonation have led to calls for more stringent voter identification requirements, including the requirement of government-issued photo identification cards as the only approved form of voter identification;
Whereas there has been no substantiated evidence of any significant incidence of fraud due to voter impersonation, and the more serious attack on ballot integrity has been the discounting of millions of ballots, including an estimated 6,000,000 ballots lost in the 2000 Presidential election;
Whereas there is no evidence that photo identification requirements address the few isolated instances of such fraud..."
Pro: "Look, we all agree we got to increase oil production. We all agree we got to increase natural gas production. But the question is whether we build on the progress for the new energy sources of the future. I'm not going to keep on giving corporate taxpayer-funded welfare to oil companies, $4 billion a year, when we could be using that money to continue to promote wind and solar and long-lasting batteries, and put Americans back to work right now - seeing that technology develop here in the United States instead of China or Germany, or some other country.
And I've got to tell you, Iowa, this is not a pipedream; there are nearly 7,000 jobs in Iowa right now depending on wind energy. Last night, Governor Romney claimed he didn’t have a plan to end wind jobs in Iowa, but he called these jobs 'imaginary.' His plan would end tax credits for wind energy producers. That is a fact. My plan will keep these investments, and we’ll keep reducing the carbon pollution that’s also heating the planet - because climate change isn't a hoax."
"Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event in Mt. Vernon, IA," www.whitehouse.gov, Oct. 17, 2012
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.
This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people... In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security..."
"Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline," www.whitehouse.gov, Jan. 18, 2012
Pro: "[W]e’ve got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy. Yes, oil and gas, but also wind and solar and nuclear and biofuels, and more... We supported the first new nuclear power plant in three decades."
"Remarks by the President on Energy," www.whitehouse.gov, Feb. 23, 2012
Con: "Instead of taxpayer giveaways to an [oil] industry that’s never been more profitable, we should be using that money to double-down on investments in clean energy technologies that have never been more promising - investments in wind power and solar power and biofuels; investments in fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and energy-efficient homes and buildings. That’s the future. That’s the only way we're going to break this cycle of high gas prices that happen year after year after year...
...[W]e can’t just drill our way out of this problem. As I said, oil production here in the United States is doing very well, and it's been doing well even as gas prices are going up. Well, the reason is because we use more than 20 percent of the world’s oil but we only have 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves. And that means we could drill every drop of American oil tomorrow but we’d still have to buy oil from other countries to make up the difference. We’d still have to depend on other countries to meet our energy needs."
"Remarks by the President on Oil and Gas Subsidies," www.whitehouse.gov, Mar. 29, 2012
Con: "I strongly reject drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because it would irreversibly damage a protected national wildlife refuge without creating sufficient oil supplies to meaningfully affect the global market price or have a discernable impact on US energy security."
League of Conservation Voters questionnaire, 2007
[Editors' Note:US Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar explained the Obama Administration’s opposition to drilling in ANWR in a Mar. 4, 2011 article titled "Interior Secretary Says White House Opposes Drilling in Arctic Because It Will Not Lead to Energy Security," available at cnsnews.com. When asked by CNSNews.com "Given the rising cost of gasoline why is the administration opposed to drilling in the arctic refuge?," Salazar responded "We don't believe that you need to drill everywhere and we don't believe that the 'drill, baby, drill' program is the way that's going to get us to the energy independence that we need for America..."]
Pro: "Global warming is real, is happening now and is the result of human activities. The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years. Glaciers are melting faster; the polar ice caps are shrinking; trees are blooming earlier; oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening marine life; people are dying in heat waves; species are migrating, and eventually many will become extinct. Scientists predict that absent major [green house gas] emission reductions, climate change will worsen famine and drought in some of the poorest places in the world and wreak havoc across the globe.."
"Barack Obama's Plan to Make America a Global Energy Leader," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Oct. 7, 2007
Con: [Editor's Note: On April 5, 2011 the Executive Office of the President released a "Statement of Administration Policy," available at www.whitehouse.gov, on HR 910 the "Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011" vowing that Obama would veto the bill if it made it to his desk. It contained the following statement:
"The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 910, which would halt the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) common-sense steps under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to protect Americans from harmful air pollution. H.R. 910 would also increase the Nation's dependence on oil and other fossil fuels as well as contradict the scientific consensus on climate change."
The Energy Tax Prevention Act sought to amend the Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from regulation as a pollutant. The act passed the US House of Representatives (255-172) on Apr. 7, 2011. The Act was received by the Senate on Apr. 8 and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.]
"Statement of Administration Policy," www.whitehouse.gov, Apr. 5, 2011
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I am in favor of palliative medicine in circumstances where someone is terminally ill... I'm mindful of the legitimate interests of states to prevent a slide from palliative treatments into euthanasia. On the other hand, I think that the people of Oregon did a service for the country in recognizing that as the population gets older we've got to think about issues of end-of-life care..."
Interview with Gary Nelson published in the Mail Tribune, "He Favors Long-Term Timber-Payments Solution," www.mailtribune.com, Mar. 23, 2008
Pro: "Here is what I will do as president... we will let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified because Americans should know what they are buying."
2007 Food and Family Farm Presidential Summit in Des Moines, IA, hosted by the Iowa Farmers Union, www.fooddemocracynow.org, Nov. 10, 2007
[Editor's Note: In 2009 President Obama appointed Michael Taylor as Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration. Michael Taylor had formerly served as the Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto from 1998 to 2001. Monsanto is the nation’s leading developer of genetically modified plant seed. Taylor began his career with the FDA in 1976.]
Pro: "We lose the same number of young people to guns every day and a half as we did at Columbine, and every four days as we did at Virginia Tech.
Every single day, America is robbed of more futures. It has awful consequences for our society. And as a society, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to put a stop to it.
I'm willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few - dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example - from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.
I'm willing to bet they don't think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas - that we should check someone's criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn't be able to buy a gun so easily; that there's room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment."
"President Obama: We Must Seek Agreement on Gun Reforms," Arizona Daily Star, Mar. 13, 2011
Pro: "Today, after almost a century of trying... health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America...
This year, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need...
This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people's coverage when they get sick. They won't be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive...
Once this reform is implemented, health insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace where uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable, quality insurance."
"Remarks by the President and Vice President at Signing of the Health Insurance Reform Bill," White House website, Mar. 23, 2010
Now Pro: "The plan I'm announcing tonight would meet three basic goals. It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance for those who don't. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. It's a plan that asks everyone to take responsibility for meeting this challenge - not just government, not just insurance companies, but everybody including employers and individuals...
Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those - especially the young and the healthy - who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers by giving them coverage. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don't sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for these people's expensive emergency room visits... unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek - especially requiring insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions - just can't be achieved...
And that's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance - just as most states require you to carry auto insurance."
"Remarks by the President to a Joint Session of Congress on Health Care," www.whitehouse.gov, Sep. 9, 2009
Con: [Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Pro statement from Sep. 9, 2009, he expressed a Con position as indicated by his statement during a Feb. 28, 2008 interview on NBC's Ellen DeGeneres Show, available at www.cnsnews.com, below.]
"Both of us [Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton] want to provide health care to all Americans. There’s a slight difference, and her plan is a good one. But, she mandates that everybody buy health care. She’d have the government force every individual to buy insurance and I don’t have such a mandate because I don’t think the problem is that people don’t want health insurance, it’s that they can’t afford it. So, I focus more on lowering costs. This is a modest difference. But, it’s one that she’s tried to elevate, arguing that because I don’t force people to buy health care that I’m not insuring everybody. Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t."
Interview on NBC's Ellen DeGeneres Show, www.cnsnews.com, Feb. 28, 2008
Con: "...[A]s part of the Affordable Care Act, we gave seniors deeper discounts on prescription drugs, and made sure preventive care like mammograms are free without a co-pay. We’ve extended the life of Medicare by almost a decade. And I’ve proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system and reining in insurance companies – reforms that won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.
Republicans in Congress have put forward a very different plan. They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. That means that instead of being guaranteed Medicare, seniors would get a voucher to buy insurance, but it wouldn’t keep up with costs. As a result, one plan would force seniors to pay an extra $6,400 a year for the same benefits they get now. And it would effectively end Medicare as we know it.
I think our seniors deserve better. I’m willing to work with anyone to keep improving the current system, but I refuse to do anything that undermines the basic idea of Medicare as a guarantee for seniors who get sick."
"Weekly Address: Preserving and Strengthening Medicare," www.whitehouse.gov, Aug. 25, 2012
Pro: "...I think it [health care] should be a right for every American. In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills -- for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "[W]e have to demand responsibility from people living here illegally. They must be required to admit that they broke the law. They should be required to register, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English...
We need to provide farms a legal way to hire the workers they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status. And we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents by denying them the chance to stay here and earn an education and contribute their talents to build the country where they've grown up."
"Remarks by the President on Comprehensive Immigration Reform." whitehouse.gov, July 1, 2010
Pro: “In order to hold businesses accountable that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers, the President supports:
Phasing in mandatory use of the E-Verify system over a multi-year period in conjunction with a program that requires the undocumented population to get right with the law. Employers with more than 1000 employees would be required to join the system first, with additional phases that add more employers in succeeding years. Some small businesses could be exempt from using E-Verify system..."
"Building a 21st Century Immigration System," www.whitehouse.gov, May 2011
Con: "I think this (law) [Arizona's SB 1070] puts American citizens who look Hispanic, are Hispanic, potentially in an unfair situation. And more importantly, it creates the prospect of 50 different laws, in 50 different states, when it comes to immigration. This is a federal job. What we have to do is take on that federal responsibility by working with border states in border security. And I told Governor Brewer that we've already put more resources into border security than we ever have. We've got more border guards in Arizona than we ever have. We just made the decision to put in additional National Guard.
But without comprehensive immigration reform, which is congress's responsibility, we are not gonna solve this problem."
Interview with Larry King on CNN's Larry King Live, www.transcripts.cnn.com, June 3, 2010
Pro: "Well, this is an area where Senator Clinton and I almost entirely agree. I think that the key is to consult with local communities, whether it's on the commercial interests or the environmental stakes of creating any kind of barrier...
As Senator Clinton indicated, there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having border patrolled, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that's going to be the better approach."
"The CNN Democratic Presidential Debate in Texas," CNN.com, Feb. 21, 2008
[Editor's Note: Barack Obama indicated in a May 10, 2011 speech delivered at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, TX, available at whitehouse.gov, that he believes the fence to be "basically complete": "The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents -- more than twice as many as there were in 2004. It's a build-up that began under President Bush and that we've continued.. So we put the agents here. Then they wanted a fence. Well, the fence is now basically complete...
We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done...
You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they're going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied."]
[Editor's Note: Senator Obama also voted in favor of the "Secure Fence Act of 2006" (H.R.6061) on Sep. 29, 2006 which allowed for the following:
"SEC. 3. CONSTRUCTION OF FENCING AND SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS IN BORDER AREA FROM PACIFIC OCEAN TO GULF OF MEXICO...
(1) SECURITY FEATURES.-
(A) REINFORCED FENCING.-In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide for least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors..."]
Pro: [Editor's Note: On June 3, 2010 the White House Office of the Press Secretary released a "Readout of the President's Meeting with Governor Brewer of Arizona," available at www.whitehouse.gov. It contained the following statement:
"The President had a good meeting with Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona at the White House today to discuss a range of critical issues of mutual interest, including the President’s comprehensive plan to secure the Southwest border and the unprecedented resources his Administration has devoted to that effort. The President and Governor Brewer also discussed the President’s decision to deploy up to an additional 1,200 requirements-based National Guard troops to the border and his upcoming request to Congress of $500 million in supplemental funds for enhanced border protection and law enforcement activities as part of that integrated strategy."]
"Readout of the President's Meeting with Governor Brewer of Arizona," www.whitehouse.gov, June 3, 2010
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Others avoid immigration laws by overstaying their visas. Regardless of how they came, the overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families. But we have to acknowledge they've broken the rules. They've cut in front of the line. And what is also true is that the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are trying to immigrate legally.
So one way to strengthen the middle class in America is to reform the immigration system so that there is no longer a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everybody else... And that's why immigration reform is an economic imperative. It's an economic imperative."
"Building a 21st Century Immigration System," White House website, May 10, 2011
Pro: "[A]s President and Commander-in-Chief, I have a deeply held preference for peace over war. I have sent men and women into harm’s way. I've seen the consequences of those decisions in the eyes of those I meet who've come back gravely wounded, and the absence of those who don’t make it home. Long after I leave this office, I will remember those moments as the most searing of my presidency. And for this reason, as part of my solemn obligation to the American people, I will only use force when the time and circumstances demand it. And I know that Israeli leaders also know all too well the costs and consequences of war, even as they recognize their obligation to defend their country.
We all prefer to resolve this issue diplomatically. Having said that, Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.
I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power: A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.
Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."
"Remarks by the President at AIPAC Policy Conference," www.whitehouse.gov, Mar. 4, 2012
Now Pro: "Thank you to all the men and women who have served in Iraq and who are currently serving in Iraq. Your dedication, your bravery, your courage, has made America safer and has helped to stand up democracy in Iraq..."
"President Obama Salutes the Troops, and Invites You to Join," YouTube.com, Aug. 26, 2010
Con: [Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Pro statement from Aug. 26, 2010, he expressed a Con position as indicated by the statement from Sep. 12, 2007 below.]
"Perhaps the saddest irony of the Administration's cynical use of 9/11 is that the Iraq War has left us less safe than we were before 9/11. Osama bin Ladin and his top lieutenants have rebuilt a new base in Pakistan where they freely train recruits, plot new attacks, and disseminate propaganda. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. Iran has emerged as the greatest strategic challenge to America in the Middle East in a generation. Violent extremism has increased. Terrorism has increased. All of that is a cost of this war."
"Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Turning the Page in Iraq," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Sep. 12, 2007
Pro: "One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves... Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.
We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There's no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state."
"Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly," White House website, Sep. 21, 2011
Now Pro: “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
Interview with Robin Roberts from ABC's Good Morning America, www.abcnews.go.com, May 9, 2012
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "President Obama: That at minimum, that gays and lesbians have strong civil unions that provide the same kinds of protections.
George Stephanopoulos: At minimum?
Obama: At minimum. Stephanopoulos: So you've said your position is evolving. You said you're struggling with it. What more do you need to know?
Obama: Well-- you know-- I probably won't-- make news right now, George. But I-- I think that there's no doubt that-- as I see-- friends, families-- children of gay couples-- who are thriving-- you know, that-- that has an impact on how I think about these issues. It's also one of the reasons that I made the decision for us not to defend-- The Defense of Marriage Act, which-- I believe violated the Constitution. And, you know, is going to be-- decided in the courts probably-- in the next-- next few terms.
Stephanopoulos: You think you'll change your mind before the election?
Obama: You know-- I-- I'm-- I'm-- still working on it."
"Transcript: George Stephanopoulos' ABC News / Yahoo! News Exclusive Interview With President Obama," www.abcnews.go.com, Oct. 3, 2011
Con: [Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Not Clearly Pro or Con statement from Oct. 3, 2011, he expressed a Con position as indicated by the statement from Aug. 18, 2008 below.]
"I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. For me, as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. You know, God's in the mix."
"Transcript of Obama, McCain at Saddleback Civil Forum with Pastor Rich Warren," www.suntimes.com, Aug. 18, 2008
Pro: [Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Con statement from Aug. 18, 2008, he expressed a Pro position as indicated by a statement from Feb. 15, 1996, reprinted in the June 18, 2011 article "Obama’s Views on Gay Marriage ‘Evolving. '"]
"I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Obama’s Views on Gay Marriage ‘Evolving.'" New York Times, June 18, 2011
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "[Katie] Couric: Should infidelity qualify someone, or should infidel...
[Katie] Couric: ...infidelity disqualify someone?
Obama: You know...I'm very cautious about applying strict moral rules to...or a blanket universal rule to...people. Because, you know, I mean, there are some people who might say that the fact that, you know, I indulged in drugs when I was young, disqualifies me. I mean, there are a lot of ways that you can apply that kind of morality. What I'm always hopeful of is that people...judge our public servants based on their passion, their commitment, their public integrity, how they operate with that public trust. And, you know, if we start getting too sanctimonious about some of these issues then there aren't going to be that many people who are able or willing to serve."
"Candidates Offer Views on Infidelity," CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Dec. 19, 2007
Con: "What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it's against federal law. I can't nullify congressional law. I can't ask the Justice Department to say, 'Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books.' What I can say is, 'Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.' As a consequence, there haven't been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes."
"Ready for the Fight: Rolling Stone Interview with Barack Obama," www.rollingstone.com, Apr. 25, 2012
Con: "I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It's not a good use of our resources."
2008 election campaign event in Nashua, NH, YouTube.com, Aug. 21, 2007
[Editor's Note: On Oct. 19, 2009 the US Department of Justice announced in a memo that federal prosecutors should not target "individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana."
The memo stated that "prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority." It is also explicitly stated that the memo "does not 'legalize' marijuana or provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law."
On Oct. 7, 2011, federal prosecutors in California announced their efforts to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries with "significant commercial operations." Some medical marijuana proponents believe that these and other actions of the US Department of Justice reflect a Pro position for Barack Obama.]
Pro: "When it comes to medical marijuana, I have more of a practical view than anything else. My attitude is that if it's an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else. I think there are legitimate concerns in not wanting to allow people to grow their own or start setting up mom and pop shops because at that point it becomes fairly difficult to regulate.
I'm not familiar with all the details of the initiative that was passed [in Oregon] and what safeguards there were in place, but I think the basic concept that using medical marijuana in the same way, with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that's entirely appropriate.
I would not punish doctors if it's prescribed in a way that is appropriate. That may require some changes in federal law. I will tell you that...the likelihood of that being real high on my list is not likely. What I'm not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism. We've got a lot of things for our law enforcement officers to deal with."
Interview with Editorial Page Editor Gary Nelson, Mail Tribune, Mar. 22, 2008
[Editor's Note: On Oct. 7, 2011, federal prosecutors in California announced their efforts to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries with "significant commercial operations." Some medical marijuana proponents believe that these and similar actions of the US Department of Justice reflect a Con position for Barack Obama. Still others say that Obama is Not Clearly Pro or Con medical marijuana given statements like the one from a Nov. 24, 2007 town hall meeting in Audbon, IA:
"My attitude is, if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the best way to relieve pain and suffering is through medical marijuana then that's something I'm open to, because there's no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain. But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want to make sure that it is prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs would be prescribed. I'm concerned about folks just kind of growing their own and saying it's for medicinal purposes, because that's kind of a slippery slope."]
Pro: "As a general proposition... I want to make sure the people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part they have been very precise precision strikes against al-Qaeda and their affiliates. And we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied...
This is a targeted, focused effort, at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases...
It is part and parcel of our overall authority when it comes to battling al-Qaeda...
We have to be judicious in how we use drones, but understand that probably our ability to respect the sovereignty of other countries and to limit our incursions into somebody else’s territory is enhanced by the fact that we are able to pin-point strike an al-Qaeda operative...
That doesn't mean that we shouldn’t be careful about how we proceed on this... Obviously I’m looking forward to a time where al-Qaeda is no longer an operative network... I think we are on the offence now, al-Qaeda has been really weakened, but we've still got a little more work to do, and we've got to make sure that were using all our capacities in order to deal with it."
"Obama Addresses Drone Strikes During 'Hangout,'" YouTube.com, Jan. 30, 2012
Con: "...[W]e have to renew our economic strength here at home, which is the foundation of our strength around the world. And that includes putting our fiscal house in order. To that end, the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year - with the support of Republicans and Democrats alike - mandates reductions in federal spending, including defense spending...
...[W]e will be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of that critical region. We’re going to continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has demonstrated time and again - most recently in Libya - that it’s a force multiplier. We will stay vigilant, especially in the Middle East...
Some will no doubt say that the spending reductions are too big; others will say that they’re too small. It will be easy to take issue with a particular change in a particular program. But I’d encourage all of us to remember what President Eisenhower once said - that 'each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.' After a decade of war, and as we rebuild the source of our strength - at home and abroad - it’s time to restore that balance."
"Remarks by the President on the Defense Strategic Review," www.whitehouse.gov, Jan. 5, 2012
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Today I have signed into law H.R. 1540, the 'National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.' I have signed the Act chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed...
The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists...
Section 1021 affirms the executive branch's authority to detain persons covered by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note). This section breaks no new ground and is unnecessary. The authority it describes was included in the 2001 AUMF, as recognized by the Supreme Court and confirmed through lower court decisions since then. Two critical limitations in section 1021 confirm that it solely codifies established authorities. First, under section 1021(d), the bill does not 'limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.' Second, under section 1021(e), the bill may not be construed to affect any 'existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."...
...I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law."
"Statement by the President on HR 1540," www.whitehouse.gov, Dec. 31, 2011
Con: [Editor's Note: Change.gov, the official website for Obama's transition into the White House, after winning the 2008 presidential election but before his inauguration, stated the following on a page titled "America Serves," as captured on Nov. 7, 2008 by archive.org: "Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year."
By Nov. 10, 2008, the word "require" was replaced with the phrase "set a goal," which remains on the "America Serves" page of Change.gov as of Feb. 14, 2012.
Obama's opposition to the draft and his support of voluntary (vs. mandatory) community service led us to categorize his position as Con to our question.]
"I think that if women are registered for service -- not necessarily in combat roles, and I don’t agree with the draft -- I think it will help to send a message to my two daughters that they’ve got obligations to this great country as well as boys do."
Democratic presidential debate, Charleston, SC, July 23, 2007
Pro: "I understand the frustrations being expressed in those [Occupy Wall Street] protests. In some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them.
The most important thing we can do right now is those of us in leadership letting people know that we understand their struggles and we are on their side, and that we want to set up a system in which hard work, responsibility, doing what you’re supposed to do, is rewarded. And that people who are irresponsible, who are reckless, who don’t feel a sense of obligation to their communities and their companies and their workers that those folks aren’t rewarded."
Devin Dwyer, "Obama: Occupy Wall Street ‘Not That Different’ from Tea Party Protests," www.abcnews.go.com, Oct. 18, 2011
Pro: "The other night he [Mitt Romney] ruled out asking millionaires and billionaires to pay even a dime more in taxes to help us bring down our deficit. Not a dime. When he was asked what he’d actually do to cut spending, he said he’d go after public television. So for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry, somebody is finally cracking down on Big Bird...
Governor Romney plans to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s bringing the hammer down on Sesame Street...
...We can’t afford to gut our investments in education or clean energy or research and technology. We can’t afford to roll back regulations not just on Wall Street, but on oil companies and insurance companies. That’s not a jobs plan. That’s not a plan to grow our economy. That’s not change. It’s a relapse. We’ve been there. We have tried that. We’re not going back."
"Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event," www.whitehouse.gov, Oct. 8, 2012
[Editor's Note: According to a Feb. 13, 2012 press release by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), available at www.cpb.org, Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of the CPB, made the following statement:
“President Obama today submitted his Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget to Congress. In it, he requested full funding – $445 million – for CPB’s FY 2015 advance appropriation."]
Con: “I’m a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state. But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there’s a difference between science and faith. That doesn’t make faith any less important than science. It just means they’re two different things. And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.”
"Obama Talks About York We Got Five Minutes to Ask Obama Your Questions," www.ydr.com, Mar. 30, 2008
Con: "I have been adamant in saying that Social Security should not be privatized and it will not be privatized as long as I'm President. And here's the reason. I was opposed to it before the financial crisis. And what I said was the purpose of Social Security is to have that floor, that solid -- rock-solid security, so that no matter what else happens you've always got some income to support you in your retirement. And I've got no problem with people investing in their 401(k)s, and we want to encourage people to invest in private savings accounts. But Social Security has to be separate from that...
So here's the thing. Social Security is not in crisis. What is happening is, is that the population is getting older, which means we've got more retirees per worker than we used to. We're going to have to make some modest adjustments in order to strengthen it. There are some fairly modest changes that could be made without resorting to any newfangled schemes that would continue Social Security for another 75 years, where everybody would get the benefits that they deserve."
"Remarks by the President at a Discussion with Ohio Families on the Economy," White House website, Aug. 18, 2010
Pro: "Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign... we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield...
Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research – from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit – and from a government willing to support that work...
As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research – and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."
Speech in Washington, DC, upon signing Executive Order 13505, "Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells," whitehouse.gov, Mar. 9, 2009
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "On Syria, obviously this is a very tough issue. I have indicated repeatedly that President al-Assad has lost legitimacy, that he needs to step down. So far, he hasn’t gotten the message, and instead has double downed in violence on his own people...
What we’ve said is, number one, we want to make sure we’re providing humanitarian assistance, and we’ve done that to the tune of $82 million, I believe, so far. And we’ll probably end up doing a little more because we want to make sure that the hundreds of thousands of refugees that are fleeing the mayhem, that they don’t end up creating -- or being in a terrible situation, or also destabilizing some of Syria’s neighbors.
The second thing we’ve done is we said that we would provide, in consultation with the international community, some assistance to the opposition in thinking about how would a political transition take place, and what are the principles that should be upheld in terms of looking out for minority rights and human rights. And that consultation is taking place.
I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation. But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.
We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation."
"Remarks by the President to the White House Press Corps," www.whitehouse.gov, Aug. 20, 2012
Pro: "The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working... It will provide -- it will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business. It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and if they hire, there will be customers for their products and services...
Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin. And you know that while corporate profits have come roaring back, smaller companies haven't. So for everyone who speaks so passionately about making life easier for 'job creators,' this plan is for you.
Pass this jobs bill -- pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or if they raise workers' wages. Pass this jobs bill, and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year. If you have 50 employees -- if you have 50 employees making an average salary, that's an $80,000 tax cut. And all businesses will be able to continue writing off the investments they make in 2012."
"Address by the President to a Joint Session of Congress," White House website, Sep. 8, 2011
Pro: "[T]he plan calls for the Congress to undertake comprehensive tax reform that... observes the Buffett Rule -- that people making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay.
...I also included specific tax loophole closers and measures to broaden the tax base. Together with the expiration of the high-income tax cuts from 2001 and 2003, these measures would be more than enough to reach this $1.5 trillion target. They include cutting tax preferences for high-income households, eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies, closing the carried interest loophole for investment fund managers, and eliminating benefits for those who use corporate jets...
This plan lives up to a simple idea: as a Nation, we can live within our means while still making the investments we need to prosper. It follows a balanced approach: asking everyone to do their part, so no one has to bear all the burden. And it says that everyone -- including millionaires and billionaires -- has to pay their fair share."
"Presidential Memorandum--President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction," White House website, Sep. 19, 2011
Pro: "In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1% has gone up by more than 25% to $1.2m per year. I'm not talking about millionaires, people who have a million dollars. I'm saying people who make a million dollars every single year. For the top one hundredth of 1%, the average income is now $27m per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6%...
If we want a strong middle class, then our tax code must reflect our values. We have to make choices...
Today, the wealthiest Americans are paying the lowest taxes in over half a century. This isn't like in the early 50s, when the top tax rate was over 90%. This isn't even like the early 80s, when the top tax rate was about 70%. Under President Clinton, the top rate was only about 39%. Today, thanks to loopholes and shelters, a quarter of all millionaires now pay lower tax rates than millions of you, millions of middle-class families. Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1%. One percent...
That is the height of unfairness. It is wrong. It's wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker, maybe earns $50,000 a year, should pay a higher tax rate than somebody raking in $50m. It's wrong for Warren Buffett's secretary to pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett...
This isn't about class warfare. This is about the nation's welfare. It's about making choices that benefit not just the people who've done fantastically well over the last few decades, but that benefits the middle class, and those fighting to get into the middle class, and the economy as a whole."
"Remarks by the President on the Economy in Oswatomie, Kansas," www.whitehouse.gov, Dec. 6, 2011
Con: "From economics to immigration, Governor Perry, Governor Romney, and the Republican field have embraced policies that the American people oppose. The campaign to win the Republican nomination has become a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Tea Party. They would return to policies that have been tried before and done nothing to improve economic security for the middle class, rewarding special interests who can afford to pay for lobbyists instead of looking out for working families."
Ben LaBolt, "Republican Candidates Support Policies That the American People Oppose," www.barackobama.com, Oct. 3, 2011
Pro: Barack Obama, then a US Senator (D-IL), co-sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 10 (S.J. Res. 10) on Mar. 27, 2007 bill in the 110th Congress which was titled A Joint Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Relative to Equal Rights for Men and Women, available at thomas.loc.gov. S.J. Res. 10 said in part:
"...[T]he following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States...
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
"S.J.RES.10," Library of Congress: THOMAS website, Mar. 27, 2007
Con: "The secret authorization of brutal interrogations is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security. We must do whatever it takes to track down and capture or kill terrorists, but torture is not a part of the answer - it is a fundamental part of the problem with this administration's [George W. Bush] approach. Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them. Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence. Torture is how you set back America's standing in the world, not how you strengthen it. It's time to tell the world that America rejects torture without exception or equivocation. It's time to stop telling the American people one thing in public while doing something else in the shadows. No more secret authorization of methods like simulated drowning. When I am president America will once again be the country that stands up to these deplorable tactics. When I am president we won't work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution, we will be straight with the American people and true to our values."
Press release, "Obama: Torture and Secrecy Betray Core American Values," White House website, Oct. 4, 2007
Pro: "As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."
Ryan Creed, "President Obama Supports Building of Mosque Near Ground Zero," ABC News website, Aug. 14, 2010
Barack Obama's Biography
44th US President
Full Name: Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.
Marital Status: Married
Birthdate: Aug. 4, 1961
Birthplace: Honolulu, HI
Religion: Member of United Church of Christ for 20+ years
44th US President, Jan. 20, 2009-present
Recipient, Nobel Peace Prize, 2009
US Senator (D-IL), 2005-Nov. 16, 2008
Former Member, US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, Environment and Public Works Committee, and Veterans' Affairs Committee
Member, Illinois State Senate, 1997-2004
Civil Rights Attorney, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, 1993-2004
Former Teacher, Constitutional Law
Community Organizer, Chicago, 1985
Senior Lecturer, Constitutional Law, University of Chicago Law School
Former Editor, Harvard Law Review
JD, magna cum laude, Harvard University, 1991
BA, Columbia University, 1983
Affiliations and Memberships:
Recipient, Honorary JD, University of Massachusetts at Boston, 2006
Recipient, Best Spoken Word Album, Grammy Award, 2006
Recipient, Chairman's Award, National NAACP, 2005
Recipient, 100 most influential people in the world, TIME magazine, 2005
Recipient, 10 people who will change the world, New Statesman, 2005
Recipient, Honorary Doctorate, Knox College, 2005
Recipient, Harold Blake Walker Award, Christopher House, 2005
Recipient, Rock the Nation Award, Rock the Vote, 2005
Recipient, Outstanding Legislator Award, Campaign for Better Health Care and Illinois Primary Health Care Association, 1998
Recipient, Best Freshman Legislator Award, Independent Voters of Illinois, 1997
Recipient, Monarch Award for Outstanding Public Service, 1994
Recipient, 40 Under 40 Award, Crain's Chicago Business, 1993
Born at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, Honolulu, HI on Aug. 4, 1961
Married Michelle Robinson, JD, on Oct. 3, 1992
Has two children, Malia Ann (born 1998) and Natasha ("Sasha," born 2001)
Barack Obama attended Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the United Church of Christ's largest congregation. At a May 31, 2008 Press Conference in Aberdeen, SD, Obama announced that he and his wife were "withdrawing as members of Trinity" because of "offensive statements" by church leadership including Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
First African-American president of the United States
First US president to chair a session of the United Nations Security Council
The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Barack Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
Barack Obama in His Own Words, Ed. Lisa Rogak, 2007
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, 2006
"One Nation... Under God?," Sojourners Magazine, Nov. 1, 2006
"US Must Encourage Biofuel Revolution," Chicago Sun Times, May 1, 2006
"The Political Movement in Black America," Ebony, Nov. 1, 2005
"Veterans Should Be Priority," Chicago Sun Times, Aug. 8, 2005
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, 1995