Commentator Robert J. Elisberg, writing for the Huffington Post, looks into accusations by the McCain-Palin campaign that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has no legislative experience and has not accomplished anything while serving in the Senate.
As we all know, Barack Obama hasn’t passed any major legislation. He’s inexperienced, never done anything. We know this. We know it because John McCain and Sarah Palin, bless her accomplished heart, have said so. And so, we know.
Far be it from me not to take their word for it, but I decided to check things out. And shockingly… it doesn’t turn out to be true! Really. So, take a guess on how much legislation Barack Obama has sponsored in the United States Senate, which has become law.
C’mon, take a guess.
Nope, sorry, take another guess.
Barack Obama has authored or co-sponsored 579 bills in Washington. And as a state senator, he sponsored 820 laws for Illinois.
That’s 1,399 bills in all. Not bad for someone who apparently had done zero — okay, according to his opponents.
I know, I know. Those 820 are just for a “state,” so they don’t really count. Except… well, wait, a “state” is what Sarah Palin is governor of. (At least for 21 months.) So if sponsoring pesky “state” laws doesn’t count, what in the world does she have on her resume then? Other than ethics violations.
Besides, y’know, Illinois is an awfully big state. If someone passes a law there, it does affect the lives of 26 million people.
And, yipes, it turns out that there is a wide-ranging record of bipartisan laws he’s co-sponsored, as well, working across the aisles with Republicans. Go figure, who knew?!
Okay, first, let’s look at Barack Obama’s 579 Senate bills. (To be fair, some of these are pending — the U.S. Senate works slooowly…)
But here are just a few highlights of the ones that have passed.
With Russ Feingold, Sen. Obama helped put together and co-sponsor the Obama/Feingold 2007 Ethics Reform Law, which curbed lobbying abuses. The bill was perhaps the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.
Mr. Obama joined forces with Republican Richard Lugar as original co-sponsors of the landmark bill that improved the government’s ability to detect and destroy Weapons of Mass Destruction, keeping them from terrorists.
Working across the aisle again, this time, with Republican Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama authored a provision to secure vulnerable nuclear weapons and nuclear material around the world, protecting them from terrorists.
Sen. Obama also wrote the legislation for his Homes for Heroes Act and SAVE Act, that increased services for homeless veterans.
Shockingly, it turns out that John McCain is also wrong about Barack Obama not being willing to go against his party. You see, Mr. Obama sponsored an amendment that required lobbyist disclosures. And as the NY Timeswrote, “The disclosure idea’s lead sponsor, Senator Barack Obama… ‘has not been the most popular person in our caucus in the last couple of weeks,’ said a Democratic aide involved in deliberations over the bill.”
Gee. Apparently, it seems, Barack Obama has been willing to buck his own party. And work across the aisle. And sponsor and pass important legislation. And there are 574 other bills — some large, some smaller, but all can be found on State Surge.
Meanwhile, his record as a senator in Illinois has an impressive 820 bills that impacted the lives of countless millions, as well. By the way, for fact buffs: the 13th District he represented was alone comprised of 653,457 people — the same as the entire state of Alaska.
In Illinois, with its 26 million citizens, Barack Obama co-sponsored bipartisan campaign finance reforms, that the Chicago Tribune referred to as “the most sweeping good-government legislation in decades.” He co-sponsored a bipartisan, groundbreaking ethics reform law and was the main sponsor of the Health Care Justice Act. As co-chairman of a bipartisan committee, Sen. Obama also helped pass predatory mortgage lending reforms, which prevent foreclosures. (Hmm, that was forward thinking. Ya think? But, tosh, it was just a “state” law…) He sponsored laws that raised tax credits for low-income workers, that improved childcare subsidies for the KidCare Program (bringing health care to 70,000 uncovered children), and that reformed welfare. And he co-sponsored the Equal Pay Act for women.
Further, Mr. Obama sponsored bipartisan legislation that made Illinois the first state to require videotaping of capital cases, and bipartisan laws for monitoring racial profiling.
This list goes endlessly on. A total of 820 laws in all. FactCheck.org has detailed descriptions.
None of this is to place a value judgment on the 579 federal laws Barack Obama authored or co-sponsored. Nor is it to equate state laws with federal. It’s merely to address the false impression that the McCain campaign has tried to put forth that Sen. Obama has sponsored no important legislation in the U.S. Senate, never been able to work across the aisle and largely sat in the Illinois Senate voting “present.”
Put whatever value you wish on the 1,399 laws Barack Obama has helped sponsor. Decide for yourself what is a “major” law. From ethics reform to safeguarding WMD to child health care to home foreclosure protection, and much more, you have a great many laws to choose from.
It’s up to you to decide if passing laws in a state of 26 million people shows a person’s interests, initiative and abilities and helps set precedents. In truth, Illinois state laws do not cover a nation – they just cover 9% of the nation’s population.
In the end, there is only one simple point to this. Honesty. That anyone who suggests that Barack Obama has been ineffectual in his 12-year career as an elected representative, sponsoring no important legislation, unable to work across party lines, unwilling to go against his party, and avoiding taking stances by voting “present” — then that person doesn’t know what they are talking about. Or is lying.