Monday, November 02, 2009

The Fine Print

An article in the Journal today got my attention. Printing it probably annoyed the paper’s ideologues, and maybe they figured that by letting people know what’s going on they could stop more of it from happening, but in any event there it was.

While the headlines have focused on whether Obama will be successful in getting his major legislative initiatives passed, there has been a series of relatively quiet accomplishments that up until now the Republicans have been able to stop or delay. And these are not minor items. For example, new measures that have been signed into law this year include:

1. Workers now have more time to sue employers for wage discrimination. This will mostly affect women who want to sue for equal pay.

2. Federal hate-crime laws now apply to sexual orientation and gender identification. This is a big deal, especially for the LGBT community.

3. Millions of acres of federal land have been designated as wilderness, which puts it off-limits to oil and natural-gas development.

4. The FDA now has the power to regulate tobacco products and raise tobacco taxes to expand health insurance for children.

5. The children’s health insurance program has been renewed for 4½ years and expanded to include 4 million more children.

6. The new defense-policy bill killed unnecessary weapons programs that had survived earlier attempts at termination.

Those are just a few of the changes that have become reality. It’s fair to hold Obama and his congressional allies accountable for all their promises, but we shouldn’t get so focused on the high visibility items that we forget the many accomplishments that are often lost in the fine print.


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