During the Democratic National Convention we heard about the President’s constant fight for working and middle-class Americans and how he’s fought every day to rebuild an economy that’s meant to last – an economy built from the middle class out, not the top down. 

Given that Republicans in Congress have tried at every turn to block any meaningful legislation to move our country forward, President Obama’s  accomplishments in the last three-plus years – from the economy to healthcare to women’s rights – have been remarkable.   Here are just a few highlights.  (You can go here for a more complete summary, with citations.)

. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, he signed the Affordable Care Act (2010).  It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth.

In addition, all health insurance providers are required to cover the entire cost of preventive care for women, thus removing a huge burden on household budgets.   47 million women now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing, including more than 212,000 in Maine.

.  Passed the Stimulus: Signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid the greatest recession since the Great Depression.  4.5 million private sector jobs have been created in the last 30 months and 512,000 Manufacturing jobs have been created since 2010.  

. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession.

.  Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country.  Last troops left on December 18, 2011.

. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, he injected $62 billion in federal money into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring.  Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades.

.  Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.

. Expanded Pell Grant Spending: As part of the 2010 health care reform bill, signed measure ending the wasteful decades-old practice of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. Starting July 2010 all students began getting their federal student loans directly from the federal government. Treasury will save $67 billion over ten years, $36 billion of which will go to expanding Pell Grants to lower-income students.

.  Passed Mini Stimuli: To help families hurt by the recession and spur the economy as stimulus spending declined, he signed a series of measures to extend unemployment insurance and cut payroll taxes.

.  Increased Support for Veterans: With so many soldiers coming home from Iraq and Iran with serious physical and mental health problems, yet facing long waits for services, increased 2010 Department of Veterans Affairs budget by 16 percent and the 2011 budget by 10 percent. Also signed new GI bill offering $78 billion in tuition assistance over a decade, and provided multiple tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans.

.  Fair Pay for Women: Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, giving women who are paid less than men for the same work the right to sue their employers after they find out about the discrimination, even if that discrimination happened years ago.  Republicans blocked this bill in 2007 and when it finally passed in 2009 only 5 Republican Senators voted for it.

. Expanded Health Coverage for Children: Signed 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act, which allows the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover health care for 4 million more children, paid for by a tax increase on tobacco products.

.  Expanded Stem Cell Research: In 2009, eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, which shows promise in treating spinal injuries, among many other areas.

This convention crystallized the choice Americans face in this election.  It’s a choice between President Obama’s vision of moving our country forward with a strong middle class at its core, or Mitt Romney’s vision of going back to the same “top-down” economic policies that crashed our economy and punished the middle class.

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