Thursday, December 31, 2009
7 News Features: 7's Top 7 - Obama
After a heated and often contentious presidential campaign in 2008, the new year began with history in the air. With the nation also dealing with a historic economic collapse and a health care crisis, President Obama had his hands full in his first year in office. 7's Reed Cowan with 7's top 7, the first year of Obama.
WSVN -- On a cold, clear January day in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama was sworn into the U.S. presidency.
President Obama: "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear..."
The moment itself and the words spoken by President Obama were forever frozen in the memory of millions.
President Obama: "...preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God."
Chief Justice John Roberts: "Congratulations, Mr. President."
Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States and the first African-American to hold the highest office in the land.
President Obama: "My fellow citizens, I stand here today humbled by the task here before us."
The day after the inauguration, President Obama went right to work.
His first task was to heal an economy in full-blown crisis, the worst U.S. economic situation since the Great Depression.
President Obama: "We cannot lose a day, because every day the economic picture is darkening here and across the globe."
The president wasted no time and pushed a massive stimulus package, but mounting debt loomed large in the minds of Republicans.
Republican: "We believe that spending nearly $1 trillion is really more than what we ought to be putting on the backs of our kids and their kids."
In spite of opposition, President Obama pushed back hard.
President Obama: "Time for talk is over. Time for action is now."
Ultimately, the president signed into law a $787 billion piece of legislation aimed at creating jobs, cutting taxes, and investing in infrastructure.
President Obama: "Today does mark the beginning of the end."
The beginning of the end was marked by a big bailout for failing banks. $2.5 trillion was allocated to buy up garbage loans that banks had accumulated. The Obama administration hoped the bailout would allow banks to increase their lending. Another bailout was created for struggling auto makers.
President Obama: "G.M. is announcing today that Rick Wagoner is stepping aside as chairman and CEO."
The president took unprecedented control of the U.S. automobile industry and demanded that G.M. and Chrysler become more productive.
President Obama: "The government and Chrysler has failed everyone."
The country's unemployment rate rose to over 10 percent, which left many people in search of a job.
"I've been out of work since November."
"I was laid off Jan. 2."
"I've been out of work three weeks."
Thousands lined up for local job fairs, desperate to take care of their families.
"I've been picking up cans, aluminum, as much as i can to sell it, feed my little girl."
South Florida's struggles made headlines across the country.
President Obama: "More than 1,000 men and women stood in line for 35 firefighter jobs in Miami."
Many people were out of work. Cash-strapped citizens became outraged that the big banks -- bailed out with taxpayer money -- were still dishing out huge bonuses. A major target of the public's anger was insurance giant AIG.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner: "I found those payments -- as have so many -- deeply troubling."
Then there were the foreclosures.
"The hardest part is coming home from work and hoping there isn't a summons."
Obama pushed for another bailout plan for homeowners. The price tag for the homeowner bailout was $75 billion.
One bailout that did gain immediate traction with consumers was Cash for Clunkers. Drivers raced to trade in their gas guzzlers for hefty rebates on newer models.
President Obama: "What you're starting to see is glimmers of hope across the economy."
The president capitalized on that hope when he pushed forward with healthcare reform. He was met with immediate vocal opposition.
"We keep getting the bull. That's all we're getting: bull."
Town hall meetings turned ugly.
Sen. Arlen Specter: "You want to be led out of here? Now wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute..."
Then, there were the two words that shocked the nation.
Rep. Joe Wilson: "You lie!"
Rep. Joe Wilson interrupted the president during a speech to Congress. Wilson apologized, but the line in the sand was clear.
Woman at rally: "President Obama, can you hear us now?"
By year's end, the House of Representatives passed its version of health care reform.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: "The bill is passed."
Then, the Senate's version of the health care reform bill passed. Now, the two very different plans must merge. We will have to wait until 2010 to find out if a bill in any form ever reaches the president's desk.