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A look at Obama's first year in presidency

He's signed the children's health bill, pushed for a $787-billion stimulus and picked the first Latino Supreme Court justice. What he hasn't done: healthcare overhaul, more job creation, Guantanamo.

January 17, 2010|By Christi Parsons

Reporting from Washington — A year ago Wednesday, Barack Obama embarked on his historic presidency, facing immense challenges but riding a tide of hope for success. Here's a look at what he has accomplished so far, and what he has left to do:

Actions completed

Children's healthcare: In February, Obama signed legislation to expand publicly funded insurance for children. The bill aimed to provide government-subsidized insurance to 4 million mostly low-income children, reducing the number of uninsured youth by half, and was funded primarily by an increase in the federal tax on cigarettes.

Afghanistan plan: Obama this winter ordered 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, with the goal of reversing the Taliban's momentum, stabilizing the government and, ultimately, eradicating Al Qaeda havens along the Afghan border with Pakistan. Deployment begins this year, with a target date to begin withdrawal in the summer of 2011.

Economic stimulus: Obama signed a $787-billion stimulus bill just weeks after taking office, aiming to ease the recession. The White House says the initiative has saved jobs and staved off an even deeper recession.

Supreme Court: Obama chose Sonia Sotomayor to be the first Latino justice on the high court. Confirmed last year by a 68-31 vote, the Yale Law School graduate became the third woman to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

High on to-do list

Healthcare overhaul: Obama helped guide a major overhaul of the nation's healthcare system through the House and Senate. He is trying to negotiate a final version with congressional leaders, although a Republican victory in Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts would present significant hurdles.

Improving the intelligence system: The alleged Al Qaeda attempt to down a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day revealed gaps in the system for detecting and preventing terrorist plots. A full-scale review showed the need for numerous improvements.

Job creation: Although the White House points to economic growth and other signs of recovery, including a slowdown in the loss of jobs, Republicans are talking about the staggering number of people still out of work. The White House is proposing additional steps to create jobs.

International engagement: Many analysts credit Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, with changing America's image abroad by emphasizing multilateralism and collaboration. But he still has to translate goodwill into achievement on a range of complex subjects, including stopping the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, diminishing conflict in the Middle East and improving relations with Russia, China and the Islamic world.

Deferred

Guantanamo closure: Ordering a shutdown of the military prison in Cuba was one of the first things Obama did last January, but emptying the facility has proved harder than expected. New worries about Al Qaeda activity on the Arabian Peninsula prompted the U.S. to halt the flow of Yemeni detainees to their home country, further complicating the plan to close the detention center.

Immigration: As a candidate, Obama supported creating a path to citizenship for many of the nation's illegal immigrants. But he has yet to push for legislation to overhaul immigration laws.

Gays in the military: Obama's promise to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy governing gays and lesbians in the armed forces is on hold while the White House and lawmakers work to build support for its repeal.

cparsons@latimes.com

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