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A Do-Something President, Not Afraid Of Big Things

by Stuart Shapiro

Earlier this week, Congress passed financial reform which will be signed by President Obama in the days ahead.  As Sheryl Gay Stolberg notes in the New York Times, this marks the third economy-wide statute that has been passed in a year and a half under Obama.

The financial regulatory bill is the final piece of a legislative hat trick that also included the stimulus bill and the landmark new health care law. Over the last 18 months, Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress have made considerable inroads in passing what could be the most ambitious agenda in decades.

In a mere one-and-a-half years, Obama has pushed through Congress bills more far-reaching than any President since Nixon.  If he stopped now, his policy legacy would be the largest overall since Reagan and the largest domestically since Nixon or Johnson.

The charges of socialism are, of course, ridiculous, as both health insurance reform and financial reform left the market in a central role in these areas.  However, both Obama’s critics and supporters are right to note that he has made a big difference.  With 2.5-6.5 years to go in his presidency, the potential is there for him to reach his goal of being a truly “transformative” president.

About Stuart Shapiro

Stuart Shapiro Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

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