Presidency and Congress Thesis

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Presidency and the Congress From 2003 to Present Day

Today's world is a rapidly changing place. Economic, environmental, social, and political turmoil is now commonplace. One only has to look at the last few years in American history to see the upheaval that is constantly in motion, in this country. To further explore the changes and events that have affected the United States in recent years, this paper will explore the latter years of the Bush administration and the emerging years of the Obama administration, from 2003 to the present day.

Significant events in the Bush administration, beginning in 2003, will be overviewed. Included in this discussion will be decisions that were made by the then president that were controversial. President Bush's relationship with Congress will be explored. Lastly, his approaches to the conflict in the Middle East will be reviewed. These will serve as a comparison to Obama's emerging term as president.

President Obama's relationship with Congress and how it has changed in the last twelve months will be discussed. Obama's plans and actions concerning the conflict in the Middle East will also be overviewed. Other critical issues the current president hopes to address during his term will also be explored. These issues include: health care reform, immigration reform, economic improvement, and green technology development.

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TOPIC: Thesis on Presidency and Congress Assignment

George W. Bush was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States, on January 20th, 2001. His presidency was filled with accomplishments and controversies. The man who ran on a campaign taking the position that America was not the world's police and democracy should not be forced on unwilling nations, quickly found himself in a position contrary to this platform, due to the horrific attacks on September 11th, 2001, only eight, short months since Bush had become president. The last six years of his term, from 2003 to January 2009, would be filled with numerous significant events and decisions that created controversy. The President's relationship with Congress would, at times, be strained, and his approach to the crisis in the Middle East is still being questioned to this day.

Significant events for this time period began on March 19th, 2003, when the United States and coalition forces officially began their military actions against the Iraqi regime ("The Bush Administration," 2008). This action was supported by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House had voted 296-133 for Resolution 114, authorizing military force against Iraq, on October 10th, 2002. Nearly all of the Republican representatives and almost half of the Democrats approved the Resolution ("Final vote," 2002). The next morning, the Resolution passed the Senate with a vote of 77-23 ("Senate," 2002). On June 28th, 2004, sovereignty was transferred to an Iraqi interim government by the U.S. led coalition forces.

Another significant event for the Bush presidency occurred on August 29th, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the United States. More than 1.5 million people over the age of 16 left the gulf states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, due to the hurricane (Groen & Polivka, 2008). The disaster became a quagmire of local, state and federal inefficiencies. Although many of Bush's controversial decisions were based on the events of the Iraqi War that was a primary focus of the Administration and the American people, during this time, President Bush made a variety of other decisions that some would see as controversial.

Two months following the first military action in Iraq, in an effort to stimulate a flagging economy, President Bush enacts a second round of tax cuts, worth $330 million over ten years ("The Bush Administration," 2008). The Dow Jones Industrial Average had slipped below the 8,000 mark in March of 2003. Although some would question the tax cuts, the American economy instantly rebounded. By December 31st, 2003, the Dow Jones was 10,453.92, a 36% increase over the March 6th figure ("Dow Jones," 2009).

On December 8th, 2003, President Bush approved the expansion of Medicare. In this expansion was included prescription drug benefits for seniors ("The Bush Administration," 2008). Concerns about the financial solvency of Medicare rose concerns about this expansion. Increasing benefits for a program that was already fiscally unstable was questionable at best. However, the senior citizens of the country and the rapidly aging Baby Boomer generation welcomed the expansion with open arms. It was during this early time frame that the president and Congress appeared to both be on the same page regarding a variety of policies.

The Republican-led House and Senate for both the 108th and 109th Congress, lasting from January 2003 to December 2006, had a good working relationship with the president during the early years of the time frame investigated in this paper. As mentioned earlier, an overwhelming majority of both the House and Senate approved the resolution for military force against Iraq. The Medicare expansion was also a well-supported piece of legislation the president had favored. During these two Congresses, the president only vetoed one bill -- the Stem Cell Research Enactment Act of 2005 -- which never became law ("H.R. 810," n.d.).

January 2007, however, saw a changing of the guard in both legislative bodies. The Democrats took control of Congress and there was much more difficulty in getting approved what the president hoped to accomplish. Of particular debate was the conflict in the Middle East. Although the Democratic-led House of Representatives opposed President Bush's plans to increase troops in the Middle East, they did pass increased funding. However, this funding came with strings attached, specifically troop level guidelines and mandated withdrawal timelines. President Bush vetoed this bill and a later bill was passed with benchmark guidelines, as opposed to the mandatory timelines. The president also vetoed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, and the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. However, it was still the Middle East that caused the most controversy for President Bush.

Original support for the Iraq War began to wane and by 2006, the American public wanted an end to conflict. Although Bush announced that 'major combat operations' had ended on May 1st, 2003, soldiers remained on the ground and in harm's way. Two months later, the nation was questioning whether the weapons of mass destruction that had led the country to war were really in Iraq, and whether or not Bush knew about the possible inaccuracy of the intel this belief had been based on. Military forces, and billions of dollars in spending, continued as the U.S. led coalition forces try to bring peace to a country that was being torn apart by a leadership vacuum. By August of 2004, President Bush admitted that he had miscalculated what the post-war conditions would be like in Iraq ("A timeline," 2009).

With a new respect for the unique challenges in Iraq, troops focus on areas that are the hot beds for Iraqi dissidents. In particular, Fallujah sees increased military action. However, the insurgency is not anticipated to come to a conclusion anytime in the near future. Donald Rumsfeld is quoted as noting that insurgencies can go on for five to twelve years ("A timeline," 2009). As the situation in Iraq failed to improve, and tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money continued to be spent and hundreds of American lives were lost, both the American people and the Iraqi civilians began to call for an end of the American presence in Iraq. In Afghanistan, America is making little progress as well.

Although NATO took over military forces in Afghanistan in 2004, the United States has continued to have a strong military presence in the country, due to its instability. Fighting with the Taliban continues, and Osama bin Laden has yet to be found. The country's still in political turmoil, despite the new constitution that was approved in 2004 ("Timeline: War," 2008). This was one of the primary reasons that led to President Obama's election -- Americans looking for a change.

The Obama Administration

Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on January 20th, 2009. Coming into Washington on a swell of hope for change, Obama had full support of his Democrat-led Congress. However, there has been some breaking off of Congressional supports over the course of Obama's first eleven months in office. It appears that the honeymoon is over. One issue that has caused Obama's support base to crumble is the situation in the Middle East, specifically Afghanistan.

Since President Obama's inauguration, troop levels in Afghanistan have skyrocketed. In December 2008, there were 31,400 troops in the country. As of November 2009, there were 68,000 troops -- more than double ("Since 2003," 2009). On December 1st, 2009, the president announced he would be sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, tripling the number of troops in the country since he took office ("Obama wants," 2009). Some wonder if Afghanistan will become Obama's Vietnam (Hornick, 2009). Keilar (2009) notes that even… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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