While the first 100 days is a ceremonial milestone that dates back to the famed first months of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, there is a reason President Barack Obama's and every recent presidents' first days in office are judged with scrutiny. Every president knows that the best chance to make advances with his governing agenda is immediately after he takes office. After that, politics takes center stage with the upcoming congressional races, and then over the horizon the campaign to re-elect the sitting president.
April 29 marked the 100th day in office for Obama. Our new president took office in the most trying of times in modern history. I do not need to explain the difficult circumstances. The political debate has been contentious, and I am sure many of you reading this column have vastly different opinions than I do when it comes to the highly publicized and major actions of Obama.
Contentious debate continues on the economic stimulus bill, the financial industry bailouts, the monumental proposed budget that seems headed for passage that includes health care, education, and energy reform, the new policies concerning Iraq and Afghanistan, and much more.
Beyond these major issues, there are many achievements that have occurred in the first 100 days of this administration that may be overlooked. Yet these actions are incredibly important for our country and deserve praise from both sides of the political spectrum.
These triumphs have received bipartisan praise and show that the Obama administration is committed to following through on major campaign pledges. They deserve recognition because their actions will truly affect people's lives in the immediate future and deserve respect and separation from partisan bickering:
- The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: Obama signed the act into law just nine days after he was inaugurated. The law ensures a woman's right to file a lawsuit if she finds discrimination in her compensation compared to a man of equal position. This was a bill that most likely would not have been signed by a Republican president. The act is a major step in closing pay discrimination in our country and will protect tens of thousands of women from unfairness.
- Kennedy Serve America Act: In the spirit of President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Sen. Robert Kennedy, Obama signed this act that expands the AmeriCorps work force from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2017. Obama has inspired a call for community service across the nation and now provides the outlet for citizens to give back to their communities. The words "what can you do for your country" have never been more important, and now, possible.
- Children's Health Insurance Program Amendment: In early February, Obama signed a bill amending the Social Security Act to extend comprehensive health care coverage to more than four million children who previously were uninsured. Although the number covered is small, it makes a dent in the enormous amount of young children in this country who should have health care, no matter their circumstances. The policy puts us on the path to future health care legislation that will improve the lives of millions and millions of Americans.
- Executive Order on Stem Cell Policy: In March, Obama signed an executive order that lifted the ban on stem cell research imposed by President Bush. Twice during his presidency, Bush vetoed bills that would have authorized the research. Now, research is moving forward thanks to Obama's commitment to science. Stem cell research soon will lead to help for people with diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and spinal-chord injuries. Along with most Americans, Obama realizes we are now in the 21st century and should take advantage of the technology that is available. This research will affect the lives of millions and surely many people you know yourself.
Obama has a bold agenda. He promised change during his historic campaign. Whether change has arrived will be debated every single day. However, beyond the stories that dominate the front page, it is important to look beyond the headlines and realize that Obama already has signed laws that our country deserves. Amid all the 100-day chatter and the debate that will continue concerning Obama's strategy to save the economy and revitalize our country, remember to look back at some major achievements that are positive for all Americans, regardless of party or ideology.
Roberts was Barack Obama's field organizer for Northwest Colorado in the presidential campaign. He is a sophomore at Boston College pursuing a degree in political science and environmental studies. Roberts went to high school in Steamboat and ski raced for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.