Thursday, March 12, 2009

50 Days In

No, not 50 days since I've posted a blog here (actually, it's been a little longer than that), but 50 days (plus a couple) since Barack Obama was sworn in as President, and I know you're all just dying to find out what I'm thinking. Is the honeymoon over? Do I regret my vote? Am I loving everything he does?

No. No. And No.

The honeymoon is not over, I think he's doing a great job in a very difficult situation. I'm still pleased with my choice, and have no regrets over not sticking with an independent or third party candidate. But, no, I'm not thrilled with everything.

But I'm fine with not being thrilled with everything (and, really, who can be seriously paying attention and agree with any politician all the time?). The point is that even where I've disagreed or had a different opinion on something he's proposed, I can at least understand where he's coming from. It may be a different approach, or a different degree of attack than I would have preferred, but I can agree that it's for reasons that I can at least respect.

I'm still finding this a refreshing change from the previous administration, where it was not simply an honest disagreement with a particular detail of a policy, but where I was constantly being outraged with what I perceived to the wholesale destruction of all of what I believe to be great about this country. But back to Obama...

Example one of my disagreement: Obama's tax plan will cap the tax deduction for charitable contributions at 28 percent (current cap 35%). The positive side: this is to help pay for some rather expensive, but needed, health care proposals. The negative: this could put a damper on on major donor giving at a time when the nonprofit sector is being hit on all sides with reductions in revenue coupled with increased demand for services.

As a guy who lives in the nonprofit sector, this concerns me. But I'm not as panicked about it as some people are. The truth is, we won't really know how much of a hit this will bring to the nonprofit sector until long after it's happened, and it's being done for all the right reasons. Taking a hit to fund health care reform feels a whole lot better to me than taking a hit to give billionaires another tax cut.

Another area of disagreement is in Education. My wife is a teacher, and she and her co-workers are upset about the President's recent speech on the topic of failing schools and education reform. Obama crossed in front of a few sacred cows and promised more of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policies that failed so miserably before.

Again, my wife and I (and many others) believe that NCLB was a failed policy from the concept (other than a nifty title), and that the problem was not simply "not doing enough of it." But, as I reminded my wife at dinner tonight, we knew this was coming. Obama, the candidate, was clear about his support for NCLB. This was a trade-off we made back in November so we have no right to start acting surprised or hurt by it today.

So, am I still drinking the KoolAid and thinking that President Obama can do no wrong? Absolutely not. But I'm still willing to give the man a chance. Overall, I'll give the First Fifty a strong 85% approval rating. Will it remain that high for the next four years? I doubt it, but I'm enjoying this moment while I can.

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