USA. According to
COUNTRYAAH, Democrats lost their "super majority" in the Senate
in January, when a Republican unexpectedly won the election
after the deceased Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. In doing
so, Republicans increased their ability to stop bills, which
seemed to jeopardize the bitterly disputed health care
reform that both chambers of Congress adopted as their
version of. President Barack Obama invested heavily in
enforcing the law and finally adopted it in March. This was
done by the House of Representatives approving the Senate
version, without further adjustment.
Welfare reform was the most pervasive since the 1960s. It
provided health insurance to approximately 32 million
previously uninsured Americans and was estimated to reduce
the declining health care costs over time. Some Democrats
were dissatisfied with what was seen as a diluted proposal
that lacked a state insurance option. Republicans voted
manganese against the law, which they felt meant too much
government involvement in the economy and people's lives.
An oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April,
sinking to a depth of 1,500 meters. Eleven workers were
killed and large amounts of oil began to sprout
uncontrollably from the seabed.
Soon, the spill was called the worst environmental
disaster in US history. Sensitive wetlands with rich bird
and wildlife life along the south coast were affected, as
was the fishing industry and tourism. The oil company BP was
accused of lack of preparedness and lousy handling of the
accident. The government was criticized for reacting slowly.
President Obama gradually sharpened the tone for BP and
decided to temporarily halt oil drilling at great depths.
After several unsuccessful attempts, BP stopped the leak in
July. Nearly five million barrels of oil had then leaked,
the largest offshore discharge that has ever occurred
anywhere in the world.
On May 1, a car full of explosives was discovered in
Times Square, New York. Two days later, a Pakistani-American
man was arrested for leaving the country with a passenger
plane. The man, who said he was waging war on Islam, was
sentenced in October to life in prison for terrorism and
attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. A new
reminder of the terror threat came the same month when
explosives were found in two packages that were on the way
with shipping plans to the United States.
A new financial regulation that was missing through the
congress was completed in July. Obama called financial
reform the toughest since the depression in the 1930s. The
intention was to increase stability in the markets to
prevent future taxpayers being forced to step in to save
financial institutions from collapse.
Illegal immigration came into focus when Arizona adopted
a strict immigration law. Critics called the law racist and
boycott demands came from other states. The federal
government turned to court, which ruled that the law
violated the constitution as immigration is a federal task.
But the decision was appealed. According to estimates, there
are twelve million paperless immigrants in the United
The WikiLeaks website caused disruption in July by
publishing tens of thousands of secretly stamped documents
on US warfare in Afghanistan. The documents gave a picture
of a failed war with few prospects of victory. Later,
WikiLeaks released documents from Iraq. In November, it was
time for countless diplomatic reports, with annoying
comments about people and phenomena. Many in the United
States raged over the publication, which was deemed to
jeopardize US relations and freedom of movement in the world
and threaten the safety of many individuals.
President Obama's popularity figures have dropped
sharply. One reason was continued concern over the economy.
A cautious recovery had taken place after the deep dive that
began in 2008, but unemployment remained at around 10
percent and many more were counted as underemployed.
More and more Americans were considered poor; every
eighth resident received a federal grant to buy food.
Unemployment hit particularly hard against male-dominated
occupations. During the year, for the first time in US
history, more women than men were included in the workforce.
From the right, Obama and government opponents organized
themselves, among others, in the newly formed so-called Tea
Party movement, a loose association of right-wing populists,
nationalists and anti-federalists. Several Tea Party
candidates won Republican primary elections this fall.
As expected, the November election turned out to be a
stinging defeat for the Democrats. In the House of
Representatives, where all 435 seats were at stake, the
party lost over 60 seats and Republicans took control. In
the Senate election, which covered a third of the seats,
Democrats managed to retain their majority, even if it
weakened. The Democrats also lost several important governor
positions. Several leading Republicans vowed to invest
everything in tearing up health care reform. The result
meant further limited room for maneuver for Obama, who had
already faced massive opposition from Republicans.
But towards the end of the year, Obama unexpectedly rowed
ashore several important party-wide deals that disrupted the
image of a crippled president. First, he got Congress to
pass an important tax compromise: concessions to
Republicans' demands for extended tax relief for
multi-millionaires, in exchange for extended unemployment
benefits and other stimulus measures. Subsequently, a
decision was made to allow openly gay men to serve in the
military. A new START agreement that Obama struck with the
Russian Federation on Reduced Nuclear Arsenal was ratified.
Finally, free medical care was also approved for workers who
received but after the rescue operation in connection with
the terrorist attacks in 2001.