Is Obama Spreading Himself Too Thin?

As has been true in nearly every presidential election, from FDR to Lincoln, newly inaugurated presidents often use their executive orders to make their mark on Washington quickly. President-elect Barack Obama is no exception.

Executive orders allow presidents to implement current policies immediately, without requiring the months or so it would take to pass a law in Congress. Upon taking office is January, Obama is expected to use his executive authority to reverse Bush’s order limiting the types of embryonic stem cell research that it can receive federal tax dollars.

According to, Obama’s transition team is reviewing hundreds of Bush’s executive orders, as said by John Podesta, Obama’s transition co-chair.

As one of his first orders of business after taking office in January, President-elect Barack Obama plans to reverse some of President Bush’s most controversial orders, including his stance on abortion, oil drilling, and embryonic stem cell research.

Justine Colabraro, a pre-med major at Marist College, said “Since people are living longer, I think that it is really important that we keep up with the curve. The longer people live, the more diseases they could encounter. Stem cells research could benefit any number of diseases, from diabetes to Parkinson’s, and anywhere in between. I fully support Obama’s decision to reverse that.”

According to, in August 2001, Bush barred the National Institutes of Heath from funding any additional research on embryonic stem cells, other than the 60 existing cell lines that existed prior to when he signed the executive order.

Colabraro, who voted for Obama, says that the ban would seriously limit the progress scientists have made in finding cures for many diseases, such as Cancer. Furthermore, after watching Obama’s first presidential interview on “60 Minutes” tonight, she feels very confident in her decision.

Other controversial Bush measures Obama is expected to overturn are related to abortion and family planning.

Sam Deluca, a double major in Political Science and Economics at the College of the Holy Cross, said, “Since the election has brought about a democratic majority in the Senate, he can probably push through any legislation he wants. Personally, I just think that the plans that Obama hopes to institute are very ambitious, and somewhat dangerous to try to institute all of the different kinds of change so quickly.”

According to, Podesta also said that his team also is reviewing Bush’s order that lifted restrictions on oil drilling on “fragile federal lands” in Utah.

Environmental groups condemned Bush’s controversial decision when he opened the 360,000 acres of land to exploration earlier this month, which Podesta called a “mistake.”

Daniel Cleary, Financial Consult for Barclays Bank, said “As I understand it, the oil in this part of Utah has not been explored or extracted yet. Because of this, the oil is not and will be readily available to be supplied to either the industry or the consumer for a number of years.”

While Obama’s plan to reverse Bush’s decision will have only a negligible effect on the price of oil, if anything, Cleary said that Obama should really focus on what he claims to be the main priority: the economy.

“All the stem cell research and other lofty goals Obama have proposed doesn’t really matter when there are millions of jobs at stake,” Cleary said. “This credit crisis needs to be sorted out before all of these other issues should even come to the surface.”

Deluca, who voted for Obama, agreed, “I just think his main focus should be about the economy. That’s where most of America is suffering. Everything else is just gravy.”

Both Deluca and Cleary agreed that while Obama is not yet in office, he still has a great amount of influence on what will happen in the months leading up to his inauguration.

“Obama said that he would do whatever it takes to get the economy moving again. However, I have yet to see any concrete ideas or policies that will truly fix the problems of our economy,” Cleary said. The U.S. economy is on the brink of recession, and it’s hard to see how he is going to push it into a different direction.”

Cleary lamented that action must be taken quickly, citing the auto industry as the biggest concern.

“Obama should examine ways of mitigating the ongoing credit crisis, now spilling on to the wider US economy as a whole and in the Auto industry in particular,” Cleary said. “If action is not taken and a solution to the ongoing bailout saga involving the auto industry, GM is likely to be in bankrupt by the time Obama is inaugurated in January.”

Moreover, Cleary argued that the market hasn’t responded that positively to Obama’s election, citing specifically the numbers in the Dow Jones. He argued that such a response implies that most people don’t think that he really has the “magic answer” to all of the economies problems.

However, Colabraro, a firm believer in Obama, disagrees.

“Americans aren’t expecting a miracle. They know that he can’t make all of these changes overnight,” Colabraro said. “I think that it is evident that what the current administration has done is clearly not working, and I think that all of the changes that Obama plans to make are going to be for the better.”



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