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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Book of Matthew: Obama’s Experience

Published: September 12, 2008
Section: Opinions

Thursday is good for a lot of things. It’s a great day to go to the BMC, work on the next issue of The Hoot, and have a good time. Unfortunately for me, Thursday is not the best day to realize that you haven’t written your weekly opinion yet.

Needless to say, today’s column is going to be short. But since I don’t want to waste your time, I’ve decided to at least write about something that I think everyone should know about: Senator Obama’s government experience.

Yes, it does exist, and no, most people don’t know much about it. The Republicans spent their entire convention spreading the lie that Obama has done nothing with his career in the Illinois and US Senate, and they did so rather easily, for many of Obama’s own supporters can barely name his accomplishments.

However, thanks to this little thing called the public record, there is no excuse for such ignorance.

Elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996, Senator Obama proceeded to sponsor a total of 823 bills. Those that passed included:

•A bill that would establish a commission to develop a plan for providing universal healthcare in Illinois (passed in 2004).

•A bill meant to initiate a study of welfare success rates and making the information available to research institutions (passed in 1997).

•A bill that would provide job skills training for recipients of federal aid (passed in 1999).

•A bill that would require police to videotape interrogations of criminal suspects (passed in 2003).

•A bill that would ban almost all gifts by lobbyists, and barred the personal use of campaign money (passed 1998).

In 2004, Senator Obama was elected to serve in the United States Senate. Since then, he has sponsored or co-sponsored 647 bills, and yes, there are some fairly important bills included in that number. For example:

•The Lugar-Obama Non-Proliferation Act, passed in 2006 and signed into law in 2007, was meant, according to its authors, to “seek out and destroy surplus and unguarded stocks of conventional arms in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.”

•The Coburn-Obama Transparency Act, passed and signed into law in 2006, provides that all federal contracts be made public and available for viewing online (Tom Coburn, by the way, is a very conservative Republican from Oklahoma, yet he and Obama worked together just fine).

•The Fair Share Act of 2008, sponsored by Senator Obama and Senator Kerry, closed a loophole that had allowed defense contractors to avoid paying taxes by setting up “shell companies” in the Cayman Islands.

•The Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008, also sponsored by Senators Obama and Kerry, will provide tax relief for men and women serving in the Armed Forces, the Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps. Interestingly enough, this tax relief was paid for by the Fair Share Act of 2008.

So readers, I encourage you to continue looking into Senator Obama’s record. Although you are free to disagree with his legislative work, or question whether or not this work can match Senator McCain’s, no one can deny that Senator has been an active member of two legislatures.