This year will be President Obama's third year in office. After two years of fighting an uphill battle while Republicans threw anything and everything they could think of or make up at him and a select few Democrats stabbed him in the back, the president will return to the White House after a well deserved and much needed break over Christmas to face the difficult challenges facing this nation.
While most expect partisan gridlock this year as President Obama and Democrats face greater opposition from a Republican controlled House of Representatives and larger minority of Republicans in the Senate, the president is as usual attempting to bridge the divide between the parties to focus on real ways to help the American people.
After a year of scoring major, meaningful legislative victories that benefit Americans: the ratification of the new START treaty, repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' a bill overhauling the system to ensure food safety, Wall Street regulation, credit card regulation, a bill providing medical care and reimbursement for 9/11 responders, a bill providing free or reduced-price meals to 31 million children from low-income households and help tackle the problem of childhood obesity, expansion for federal aid for college students, and the extension of tax cuts and unemployment benefits, among others, President Obama last year also claimed victory in the appointment of his second supreme court justice nominee in two years in Justice Elena Kagan, as well as the end to combat operations in Iraq and withdrawal of all but 50,000 troops with the plan to remove the last troops by the end of this year.
But perhaps the most important accomplishment for President Obama and the Congressional Democrats in 2010, and a prime example of what they have done to help Americans, is their passing of landmark health care reform legislation designed to be rolled out over the course of the next few years. In 2010, some provisions of health care reform went into effect including the prohibiting of health insurers from denying children with 'pre-existing conditions' or imposing lifetime caps on coverage, as well as requiring health insurers to allow children to stay on their parents policies until the age of 26. In 2011, several more provisions of the health care reform law go into effect including expanded benefits to seniors on Medicare and the Medicare part D prescription drug plan and the requiring of health insurers to spend 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars on medical care and quality improvement or to provide rebates to customers.
Republicans, however, are vowing to strip Americans of these health care measures by repealing reform legislation. Apparently, they want to take money away from seniors paying for prescription medicine, allow insurers to deny coverage for sick children, and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, add $140 billion dollars over ten years to the deficit.
As usual, Republican politicians, pundits, and strategists will all posture and threaten to repeal the health care reform law and they might, but only in the Republican controlled House of Representatives. Even in the unlikely event of the Senate repealing the law, the power of the veto lies with President Obama so the law will stand unless it manages to get to the Supreme Court years from now where, even with a conservative majority, it is expected to be withheld. Several Republican state attorney generals have filed lawsuits against the government over health care reform, and three federal judges have so far ruled on it: two judges have ruled to uphold the law and one judge with ties to Republican and anti-health care reform campaigns has ruled against it.
While Republicans in both the House and the Senate this year plan on trying to repeal health care reform, undo every law and regulation and cut funding for every program passed by Democrats, threaten a government shutdown, attempt to rewrite the Constitution, dismantle Social Security, and conduct a baseless witch-hunt of the Obama administration - all of which are simply theater as they prepare for the 2012 elections, where will Republicans find the time to work on things that will create jobs, strengthen the economy, or pay down the national debt?
Looks like the new year will be much like the last year. President Obama and Congressional Democrats will continue to push social and economic reform and Republicans will continue to stand in the way.