June 2015 was a remarkable month for President Obama. In particular. the last week of the month was a real “winner” for the president. Among the topic victories or accomplishments for the president are:
- U. S. Supreme Court once again upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
- U. S. Supreme Court ruling same-sex marriage as constitutional in all 50 states
- Out of the tragic shooting of nine innocent church-goers in Charleston, SC, the president eulogized Rev. Senator Clementa Pinckney and while doing so, he directly confronted the issues of race, gun control, the symbolism of the Confederate flag, and hate in America.
- Announced plans to extend overtime pay to millions of additional Americans
- Passage by both the Senate and the House of Representatives of authority for the president to enter a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement with fast-track processing of the treaty (no amendments allowed nor filibustering)
- Sending an additional 450 military advisers to Iraq
Of these six developments, four seem to have immediate benefits for the American people; two are more geared towards the interests of corporations and/or the military-intelligence/industrial complex.
The ones that directly help the American people in the here and now are ones in which the President has openly expressed joy and approval; the two others are more, “excuse me while I …….”
More than six million people in the United States already have access to health insurance through the federal exchanges provided for recalcitrant states through the ACA. President Obama was truly thrilled that the Court signed off on the legality of the federal exchanges. His joy was matched by the individuals and families whose insurance is now secure, and by the millions more who will sign on in coming years. This was also a victory for those who see health care as a right and who ultimately want a Medicare-for-All system.
The Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage is also a victory for the underdog. A burden of oppression is lifted from millions, and their quality of life will be improved.
President Obama clearly spoke out for justice, fairness, compassion, and sensitivity in Charleston. He was a man who was connected to the millions of Americans who have felt the pain of prejudice or violence.
The president’s move to more than double the eligibility threshold for overtime pay, to $970 a week from the current cutoff of $455 a week, will help an estimated five million workers immediately, and more in the future. As the Republican-controlled Congress fails to move forward with raising the federal minimum wage, the president’s actions reveal a keen awareness of income inequality in the United States as well as the sound economic principle of providing more money to those who have a higher propensity to spend.
The two outliers in the president’s “month of success” are the passage of fast-track consideration for the TPP, and the increase in American military presence in Iraq. We did not see the president coming forward on either of these actions with pronouncements of improving the quality of life for the American people, particularly those who are struggling in our economy and feel encumbered by some of our social norms.
All of this makes me all the more interested in the president’s memoirs following his term in office. He may have some “splaining” to do to help us figure out what was really going on.